Short List Announced: Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize 2018


Short List Announcement

The short list for Mabati Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature was announced today December 17, 2018 by the board chair, Abdilatif Abdalla. The prize, founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi (Cornell University), has the express goal of recognizing writing in African languages and encouraging translation from, between and into African languages. The shortlisted works and authors are:


  • Mungu Hakopeshwi a novel by Zainab Alwi Baharoon (Tanzania)
  • Kilinge cha Hukumu ya Dhambi by Yasini Hamisi Shekibulah (Tanzania)
  • Makovu ya Uhai by Shisia Wasilwa (Kenya)


  • Wino wa Dhahabu by Bashiru Abdallah (Tanzania)
  • Moto wa Kifuu by Jacob Ngumbau Julius (Kenya)
  • Sauti Yangu by Mohamed Idrisa Haji (Tanzania)

Selected from 116 entries the manuscripts were read by 3 judges: Ahmad Kipacha, a Lecturer of Research Communication with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania, Natalie Arnold Koenings, a fiction writer, Swahili and English literary translator, and anthropologist at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, USA, and Rocha Chimerah, Professor of Kiswahili Linguistics at Pwani University, Kilifi, Kenya, a literary critic and novelist.

The 15,000 dollar prize is awarded to the best unpublished manuscripts, or books published within two years of the award year, across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir, and graphic novels. The winning entries are published in Kiswahili by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers and East African Educational Publishers (EAEP). And the best poetry book published in English translation by the Africa Poetry Book Fund. The award ceremony will be held in Tanzania, in February of 2019. For more information about the prize, please visit:



Mabati-Cornell Awards. Images courtesy of Cornell

Judges – 2018

Ahmad Kipacha completed his doctorate in 2005 specializing in Swahili dialectology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He previously attended undergraduate and post-graduate studies in Swahili and English Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. He is currently a lecturer of Research Communication with the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha, and Head of the Department of Governance, Leadership and Humanities within a school of Business Studies and Humanities. He is also a Senior Associate of Swahili Language with MS-TCDC in Arusha, Tanzania. His current research interest focuses on the Swahili languages, literary criticism and interfaces between Swahili folklore and social enterpreneurship.

Nathalie Arnold Koenings is a fiction writer, Swahili and English literary translator, and anthropologist. Published under the name N.S. Koenings, her fiction, including the novel The Blue Taxi and the story collection Theft, are set in East Africa, where she grew up. Her stories have also appeared in Story Quarterly, Glimmer Train, and The Enkare Review. Her translations into English of work by Mwenda Mbatiah, Mohammed Said Abdulla, and A. S. Manyanza have appeared in the New Orleans Review, Words Without Borders, and Asymptote. Her translation into Swahili of Tope Folarin’s short story ‘Genesis’ was part of the Swahili translation project of the Caine Prize for African Writing. In anthropology, her work, published in Swahili Forum, Research in African Literatures and elsewhere, is focused on oral history, social memory and geography on Pemba Island, Zanzibar. Nathalie teaches Creative Writing and anthropology at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, USA.

Rocha Chimerah is a Professor of Kiswahili Linguistics at Pwani University in Kenya. He received his PhD from Ohio University in the USA in 1989, taught in Rwanda for 8 years and has published many papers in refereed journals in East Africa and abroad in the areas of Kiswahili Linguistics, Language and Literature. He has written a number of acclaimed novels and plays. Among his published novels are Nyongo Mkalia Ini and Siri Sirini ( a three-volume sequel). He won the Noma Award in 2000 for his co-authorship of the book Ufundishaji wa Fasihi: Nadharia na Mbinu. His book, Kiswahili: Past, Present and Future Horizon was listed in the 100 Best African Books of the 20th Century Award in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2002.

Please find much more information on the website. The website is:
Twitter handle: @KiswahiliPrize
Facebook Page:

Contact information: Prof. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Cornell University, , Dr Lizzy Attree,

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