Judges tap 30 new African literary prize (40347)

Jun. 26 (GIN) – Two Kenyan authors are among 30 shortlisted for the new Kwani Manuscript Prize of 2013. The prize celebrates unpublished fiction from African writers and this year considered 280 qualifying submissions from Africans worldwide of which 30 made the next-to-last cut.

Stanley Gazemba and Timothy Kiprop Kimutai were tapped for their manuscripts Ghetto Boy and The Water Spirits. Other short-listed candidates are Ayobami Adebayo (Nigeria), Ayesha Harruma (Ghana/US), Toni Kan (Nigeria), Jennifer Nansubuga (Uganda/UK) and Saah Milimono (Liberia).

The top three manuscripts will be announced on July 1 and will be awarded $6,000.

Kwani Trust plans to publish three to five of the shortlisted manuscripts by April 2014.

“In reviewing the shortlisted stories, I’m blown away by the potential these manuscripts hold, the different styles, concerns and voices that they bring to new contemporary African literature, and further add to Kwani’s fiction list,” enthused Kwani Trust managing editor Billy Kahora.

“We can’t wait to bring them out as novels in the region and partner with publishing houses across the continent to make them available across Africa.”

Judges include Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (Granta magazine), Prof Simon Gikandi (US-based Kenyan scholar), Dr Mbugua wa Mungai (Kenyatta University, Kenya), Irene Staunton (Zimbabwe Weaver Press) and Helon Habila (Nigerian writer).

In a separate development, an appeal is being prepared for Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoub, better known by his rap name Weld El 15. He was convicted June 13 following a trial in March.

Yaacoub was given a two-year jail term for his song “The Police are Dogs”, a video of which was

In the video the singer is heard saying: “Police, magistrates, I’m here to tell you one thing, you dogs; I’ll kill police instead of sheep; Give me a gun I’ll shoot them.”

The severity of the verdict angered his fans who attended the trial. In clashes that broke out afterwards some of them, as well as several journalists, were badly beaten by the police.

The court ruling was also strongly criticised by Tunisia’s political opposition and by human rights groups as an attack on freedom of speech. w/pix of S. Gazemba