It has been a great honour for us to be chosen as the judging panel for the 2022 Kendeka Prize for African Literature. The Kendeka Prize espouses values that we individually and collectively cherish. While we are drawn from different parts of the continent, the common denominator among us is our love and commitment to the development of African literature.
We believe that for African literature to grow, a concerted effort needs to be made towards nurturing and amplifying new voices. In only two years, the Kendeka Prize is already making headway towards the fulfillment of these ideals. Our mutual aspirations are captured in the founding objectives of the prize, described as to “nurture new and existing writers from the African Continent and the Diaspora by creating a platform for Africans to tell their stories not only on the Continent but to reach wider audiences around the world.”
It has been a privilege for us as the panel of judges to be given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a kaleidoscopic variety of writing by emerging writers from the African continent and the Diaspora. To be entrusted with the mammoth task of selecting the brightest stars in a galaxy bursting with talent was both an edifying and exhilarating experience. The diversity of voices from different parts of the continent and the Diaspora bears testament to the burgeoning of a new generation of African writers. Through this prize, contemporary African writers are announcing themselves and what they stand for.
An initiative such as the Kendeka Prize is duty-bound to amplify African voices so they can reverberate beyond our shores. Each and every writer who put their ideas on paper and submitted their story for consideration in this prize adds a unique voice to the African literary tradition. The wide range of themes, narrative styles and imagery tells of a continent undergoing a literary revolution. Scholars might not have coined a suitable name for it as yet, but these new voices are redefining the African literary tradition in their own terms.
The shortlisted stories are most remarkable for their diversity of style, approaches to narrative voice, and their wide range of thematic content. It is quite significant that the shortlisted stories come from three regions of the continent – East Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa. The winning story stood out for its rich tapestry of poetic language, its pertinent themes and an engrossing storyline. It is a shining example of the great promise that African writing holds to the world. This talent must be nurtured and guarded.
Congratulations to the overall winner and to all the entrants of the 2022 Kendeka Prize. They typify the emergent paradigms in the African literary landscape. African literature is on the rise.
Siphiwo Mahala (Chair), Bisi Adjapon and Faith Oneya
24 September 2022