The Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature has announced the 2021 shortlisted manuscripts. The Prize is supported by Mabati Rolling Mills, ALAF Tanzania, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University, the Africana Studies Center at Cornell University and the Ngugi wa Thiong’o Foundation.

The prize was founded in 2014 by Dr. Lizzy Attree and Dr. Mukoma Wa Ngugi to recognize writing in African languages and encourage translation from, between and into African languages.

The shortlist for the one-off 2021 special prize for youth writing science fiction and speculative fiction in Kiswahili, the Nyabola Prize, targeting writers aged between 18 and 35, was announced on November 17, 2021.

Listed below are the shortlisted works and authors.


  • Kirusi Kipya and Halfani Sudy
  • Bweni la Wasichana by Lucas Lubango Kido
  • Kanzu ya Ukubwa by Hafidh Athumani


  • Chemchemi Jangwani by Moh’d Omar Juma
  • Malenga Wa Masasi by Msusa Mohamedi Msusa
  • Sinaye Baba by Mfaume Hamisi Mfaume


  • Sinaubi by Mbwana Kidato

Overall winners will be announced at the awards ceremony slated for 27th January, 2022, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The 2021 prize judging panel includes Prof. Aldin K. Mutembei, Dr. Salma Omar and Dr. Joseph Nyehita Maitaria.

The prize will be awarded to the best unpublished manuscript or book published within two years of the award year across the categories of fiction, poetry and memoir, and graphic novels. The total proposed awards of Ksh. 1.7 million (USD 15,000) will be divided as follows.

  • 1st Fiction/Non-fiction prize – Ksh. 563,000 (USD 5,000)
  • 1st Poetry prize – Ksh. 563,000 (USD 5,000)
  • Runner-up Prize any genre – Ksh. 281,500 (USD 2,500)

Winning entries will also be considered for publication by East African Education Publishers in Kenya and Kiswahili by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers in Tanzania. The winning poetry will be translated to English and published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.