Ugandan poet, Anena wins US$10,000 Wole Soyinka prize

Ugandan poet, Anena wins US$10,000 Wole Soyinka prize

Ugandan poet, Anena wins US$10,000 Wole Soyinka prize


Harriet Anena, a Journalist and poet from Uganda has won the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

Anena therefore becomes the first Ugandan to receive the honour.

She tweeted that she was “super happy” to have won the award for her book of poetry, A Nation in Labour.


Prof. Wole Soyinka is best-known Yoruba speaker—BBC report  

Her publisher calls it “a collection of social conscience poetry” taking in “the giant politician, the restless citizen, the clueless youth, those struggling to heal from life’s scratches and the ones hunting for words to describe fiery flames of affection”.

Anena, who hails from Gulu in northern Uganda, shares this year’s prize with Nigeria’s Tanure Ojaide who wrote Songs of Myself, the BBC recalls

They each win a cash prize of $10,000 (£7,870).

Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa is a pan-African writing prize awarded biennially to the best literary work produced by an African. It was established by the Lumina Foundation in 2005 in honour of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in literature, Wole Soyinka, who presents the prize, which is chosen by an international jury of literary figures. Administered by the Lumina Foundation, the prize has been described as “the African equivalent of the Nobel Prize”.

The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, worth US$10,000, is awarded every two years to the best book written by an African in any of the literary genres. Previous winners of the prize include Sefi Atta for Everything Good Will Come in 2006 and Nnedi Okorafor, Zahrah the Windseeker in 2008. In 2010, Kopano Matlwa (Coconut) and Wale Okediran (Tenants of The House) shared the honours while Sifiso Mzobe won it in 2012 for Young Blood. Akin Bello would take the honours in 2014 for his play The Egbon of Lagos.

This year the prize was judged by a jury chaired by Margaret Busby who previously chaired the Caine Prize for African Writing and the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. She was supported by University of Texas’ Professor Toyin Falola, author of A Month Sweeter than Salt and the Lagos-based international literary scholar, Olu Obafemi.

This year’s edition of the prize is for poetry and there were 110 submissions from 11 countries on the continent, including Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda. The poets who made the longlist and their collections are:

Dami Ajayi – Clinical Blues.

Servio Gbadamosi – A Tributary in Servitude.

Tanure Ojaide – Songs of Myself.

Harriet Anena- A Nation in Labour.

Iquo Eke- Symphony of Becoming.

Hyinus Ekwuazi – One Day, I‘ll Dare to Raise My Middle Finger at the Stark and the Reaper.

Su’eddie Vershima Agema- Home Equals Holes- Tale of An Exile,

Abayomi Animashaun- Sailing for Ithaca.

Taiwo Dominic – Heaven on Earth- A Harvest of Poems.

The short-list of three was announced at a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria on November 21 and the winner declared on December 9, 2018.

Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka (Yoruba: Akinwándé Oluwo̩lé Babátúndé S̩óyinká (born 13 July 1934), known as Wole Soyinka (pronounced [wɔlé ʃójĩŋká]), is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honoured in that category.  Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta, Wikipedia says.

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