The AKO Caine Prize announces its 2021 judges

London, 22 April 2021 – The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced 153 submissions from 22 African countries via their new online submissions platform this year, including an entry from Burkina Faso, for the first time. Also announced, are the five judges for the 2021 Prize.
This year’s Chair of judges is the Founder and Director of the African Writers Trust (AWT)Goretti Kyomuhendo. She is the first Ugandan woman writer to receive the International Writing Program Fellowship at the University of Iowa, and has been recognised for her work as a writer and literary activist nationally and internationally. As the founding member of FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers Association and Publishing House, Kyomuhendo has been championing the work of African editors and publishers for decades. Her work at the AWT promotes synergies and collaborative learning between African writers on the continent and in the Diaspora. She will be tutoring writers and readers in a new hybrid Reading Residency programme in Kampala, Uganda, across April and May 2021.
Kyomuhendo is joined on the judging panel by Razia Iqbal, who is a BBC News Presenter on Newshour on the World Service, and the World Tonight on Radio 4, and was the BBC arts correspondent for ten years. She will be a Visiting Journalism Professor at Princeton in 2022. She was born in Uganda and lived in Nairobi until she was 8-years-old, when she moved to London. Victor Ehikhamenor is an award-winning multimedia artist, photographer and writer whose works have featured in several international exhibitions including the 57th Venice Biennale as part of the Nigerian Pavilion in 2017 and the 12th Dak’art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal in 2016. He is the founder of Angels and Muse, a thought laboratory dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary African art and literature in Lagos, Nigeria. Georgina Godwin is an independent broadcast journalist. A regular chair of literary events, worldwide, she is also Books Editor for Monocle 24 and presenter of the in-depth author interview show “Meet the Writers”. She is a frequent host of the award winning current affairs programme The Globalist and a commentator on Southern African politics. She was a founder member of SW Radio Africa, Zimbabwe’s first independent radio station and of the Harare International Festival of the Arts. She serves on the board of the charities English PEN & Developing Artists. Writer Nicholas Makoha was born in Uganda has lived in Kenya, Saudi Arabia and currently resides in London. He is the founder of The Obsidian Foundation, a one-week retreat for black poets of African descent who want to advance their writing practice led by five black acclaimed tutors. In 2017, his debut collection, Kingdom of Gravity, was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and was one of the Guardian’s best books of the year. Makoha is a Trustee for the Arvon Foundation and the Ministry of Stories, and a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective.

Full biographies of each judge can be found on our website here.
Commenting on this year’s judges’ appointments, Ellah Wakatama OBE, Chair of the AKO Caine Prize, said: “It is a huge pleasure to have such esteemed figures from the arts and literary worlds on our judging panel this year. I am sure their wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for literature, as well as their different perspectives of the arts, will make for lively debate and another exciting shortlist. I am especially pleased that Goretti Kyomuhendo, a literary activist whose work in developing and professionalising the publishing industry has had such a profound effect on the Continent, will be our Chair. I am so pleased that so many authors in Africa and around the globe have engaged fully with our new online submission process, during this period of the pandemic. I wish the judges the very best in selecting the 2021 shortlist, and celebrating the literature of Africa and her Diaspora for another year.”
The judges will meet online in May and, guided by the Chair, will deliberate on their final five choices.
Each writer shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize will be awarded £500, and the winner will receive a £10,000 prize. If a work in translation is chosen as the winning story, the prize will be shared between the author and the translator.
The five shortlisted stories will be compiled into the official AKO Caine Prize anthology which has been published by New Internationalist in the UK, Interlink Publishing in the USA, and a variety of international publishers around the world.

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