Sunday, May 26, 2024

THE 2024 ALEXANDER NDERITU PRIZE FOR WORLD LITERATURE

 

TheAfricanGriot.com is proud to present the inaugural Alexander Nderitu Prize For World Literature. Prize will be awarded to the best unpublished short story from anywhere in the world and is aimed at launching new literary stars.

DATES: The submission window opens on 1 May 2024 and closes on 31 May 2024. The long and shortlists shall be announced towards the end of the year. The winner shall be unveiled in early 2025.

THEME:  Being cognizant of the turbulent times we are currently living in, this year’s theme is simply: ‘Peace’.

ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open to citizens from all over the globe above 18 years of age. Entries must be previously unpublished and may be written in English or Kiswahili languages.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

  • Only one entry per person.
  • Submissions should be in a Microsoft Word (doc, docx) document. Format: Times New Roman font, 12-point size, double-spaced. The story, minus the title, must be between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Pages should be numbered.
  • There is no entry fee.
  • Only the title of the story and the word count should appear in the document along with the story. No author-identifying information should be included.
  • Submissions shall be via email. Entries should be sent to submissions@theafricangriot.com. The subject shall be: Submission for Alexander Nderitu Prize For World Literature 2024. Place your cover letter in the body of the e-mail. It should include the author’s legal name, age, nationality, one-paragraph bio, and contact details. Shortlisted entrants may be asked to provide photos and further information
  • Shortlistees grant TheAfricanGriot.com permission to publish their stories online. In addition, Prize organizers may publicize the fact that their entry has been longlisted or shortlisted for the Prize. Authors retain copyright over their work.
  • Any submissions received after the deadline will not be read.
  • Simultaneous entries are accepted but kindly inform us if your story is accepted elsewhere during the judging period.
  • The winner shall be expected to take part in publicity activities, especially online
  • Any entries that do not meet all conditions of entry will be automatically disqualified.
  • The judges’ decision is final.

PRIZE: The overall winner shall receive a Kshs 100,000 (USD$ 740.00) cash prize and an online marketing campaign worth another Kshs 100,000; sponsored by IT firm Websoft Interactive.

JUDGES: This year’s judging panel consists of:-

  • Camilla Bauer (Sweden): Translator and short story writer. Former reader and adviser on English and French literature to prominent publishing houses in Stockholm. MA in English Literature from The University of Sussex, and former student of French literature and culture at the Sorbonne. Former Juror at Radio Sweden selecting The Best Swedish Novel of The Year.
  • Dr. Paula O. M. Otukile (Botswana): Award-winning author. Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Mulher Forte African Literature Pty Ltd, which includes the Mulher Forte African Awards.
  • Rupasinghe D. Pramudith (Sri Lanka): Laureate of the Golden Aster Prize for Global Literature (2020) for his fiction set in Ukraine, Bayan. Known for his cross-cultural works of fiction. He has been judging the UK’s prestigious Page-turner awards for two consecutive years. CEO of The Asian Group of Literature which includes The Asian Review literary magazine.
  •  Henry Akubuiro (Nigeria): Playwright, novelist, short story, and children's literature author. Winner of the 1998 National Essay Competition organized by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport and the 1998 BBC World Service Young Reporters’ Competition. He was the runner-up for the ANA Prose Prize (2017) and the Nigeria Media Merit Award Arts and Culture Reporter of the Year (2022). 
  • Alexander Nderitu (Kenya): Poet, novelist, playwright, and critic. Winner of the Business Daily 'Top 40 Under 40' Kenyan Men Award (2017), IHRAF Human Rights Playwriting Prize (2021), Share Africa Climate Fiction Award (2022), Sahitto International Prizes for Literature Jury Award (2023), and the SEVHAGE-Agema Founders’ Prize for African Criticism (2023). He will chair this year's jury.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Reflections on the late Dr. Henry Chakava


A Mūgumo tree has fallen.

Not in Kikuyuland, this time, but in Africa's literary landscape. A written statement from Mr. Kiarie Kamau, Managing Director and CEO of East African Educational Publishers, has this morning confirmed the passing of Dr. Henry Chakava, at the age of 77. 

Dr. Chakava was the founder and chairman of EAEP and also the chairman of the Global Book Alliance. Mr. Kiarie's statement describes the deceased as 'the father of book publishing in Africa'. It goes on to say:

'He is associated with publishing of iconic literary luminaries in Africa such as: Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Grace Ogot, Francis Imbuga, John Kiriamiti, Meja Mwangi, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye (all from Kenya), Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi (Nigeria), Taban Lo Liyong (South Sudan), Okot p'Bitek, John Ruganda (Uganda), David Rubadiri (Malawi), Peter Abrahams (South Africa), among many others.'

I had the honour of meeting Dr. Chakava a few times, all pre-COVID era. If I'm not wrong, the first we met was during a Worldreader-organized publishers' event. He knew who I was (most probably from my literary criticism document, 'Changing the Literary Map of Kenya' which had been widely circulated via email). He gave me his EAEP business card and invited me to visit him in his office some time. Since he gave no agenda or particular date for the meeting, I was left rather perplexed by the publishing giant. I felt I shouldn't visit without a substantial work-in-progress that I could pitch. (After all, this was the guy that published Kenya's most iconic novel, Kiriamiti's 'My Life in Crime')! Meanwhile, I hadn't written a novel manuscript since 2001's 'When the Whirlwind Passes'. Still haven't. I had transitioned into more of criticism as well as poetry, plays and short stories. So our office meeting never happened.

We did meet again over the years, most recently in 2019, at the African Union/ADEA - Association for the Development of Education in Africa ‘High-Level Regional Workshop on National Book and Reading Policies in Africa’. (http://alexandernderitu.blogspot.com/2019/08/au-and-adea-launch-continental.html) We were cordial to each other. He was like our industry dad. Everyone respected him. He was a big guy, physically, and spoke with a quiet authority. Never in a rush. He reminded me of the mysterious and powerful character code-named 'Sunday' in G. K. Chesterton's classic novel 'The Man Who Was Thursday'. The photo below, of Dr. Chakava and I during a brainstorming session, was taken at that summit. 

Dr. Chakava and I always got along. We even agreed on the importance of promoting indigenous languages as they are essential to our culture/heritage. (Speaking at the summit, Mr Kiarie Kamau, had said that EAEP had just published texts in six local languages: Kikuyu, Kamba, Maragoli, Dholuo, Giriama, and Ekegusii.) Dr. Chakava remarked: 'We cannot create a reading culture without bookstores and libraries.' On the challenges facing indigenous publishing, Mr Chakava said that countries such as 'Denmark, Finland and Sweden have small populations but thriving publishing industries. Why not African nations, some of which have tribes larger than the aforementioned national populations?' The issue was how to make vernacular publishing profitable/sustainable. Relying on donors was frowned upon in our brainstorming/discussion sessions. Dr. Chakava opined that the main reason many writing/publishing associations had folded was 'heavy reliance' on (foreign) donor funding. 'Once the funds dry up, so do the organizations,' he said. He also said that some literary association founders were not serious about the promotion of literature/writers, they were merely promoting themselves (What we now call 'clout chasing'.) He mentioned a lady he knew who was 'being invited all over the world' as the founder/CEO of a children's literature association in Nairobi. However, she was the only member of that association, had no programmes/events, and everything related to her NGO could have fitted in a handbag. (He was dead serious when he told as that story, I would have been laughing like a hyena that has spotted a carcass.)

This is not really a tribute. These are just some reflections on my encounters of this great man of letters. I am going through our photos and emails as we speak. Publishers like John Mwazemba will probably have better anecdotes. Veteran journos like Tony Mochama can certainly pen more insightful articles. 

Me, I am just glad I got to meet the man. The man who boldly published Ngugi wa Thiong'o's 'Matigari' and was physically assaulted by state agents for it. The man who agreed to publish Kiriamiti's semi-autobiographical thriller 'My Life in Crime' which was written on tissue paper in Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

I hope my seniors in the publishing world will honour his legacy in some way. Since I will be launching my own literary awards this year, I cannot commit much in terms of resources to towards this but I can contribute ideas. Since Dr. Chakava was a publisher, how about an annual Henry Chakava Editor-of-the-Year Award? (I have said countless times that editors are the shadow heroes of literature.) Or an annual Henry Chakava Public Lecture hosted/organized by the Literature Department of one of our major universities? How about a Dr. Henry Chakava Cultural Foundation that enables important indigenous-language books to be published/translated? How about a special tribute session during this year's Nairobi International Book Fair, with panelists from across the continent describing the manner in which ustadh Chakava impacted their publishing/literary scene?

Rest in peace, great man. And since you were a cultural icon, I bid you goodbye in the sacred manner of my people:

Thai, Thathaiya Ngai Thai! Thai, Thathaiya Ngai Thai!

Monday, February 5, 2024

BEREAVED AUTHOR SCOOPS INTERNATIONAL WRITING PRIZE

Alexander Nderitu during a studio interview

Author Alexander Nderitu was the only African writer on last year’s Sahitto International Awards of Literature list of winners. The annual literary awards are organized by Tareq Samin; a writer, social entrepreneur and human rights activist from Bangladesh. The 2023 winners are:

 

 ‘Grand Jury Award’ Category:

  • Agron Shele (Albania/Belgium)        
  • Vesna Mundishevska-Veljanovska (North Macedonia)

 

‘Excellence in Literature’ Category:

  • Shurouk Hammoud (Syria/Sweden)
  • Mariela Cordero (Venezuela)
  • Daniela Andonovoska (North Macedonia)
  • Ali Al Hasmi (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

 

 ‘Jury Award’ Category:

  •  Alexander Nderitu (Kenya)
  • Rania Angelakoudi (Sweden)
  • Fernando Carbrera (Dominican Republic)
  • Surya Keerthy (India)
  • Sushant Thapa (Nepal)
  • Taghrid Bou Merhi (Lebanon)
  • Yang Jijun (China)
  • Anna Maria Dall’Olio (Italy)
  • Armenuhi Sisyan (Armenia)

 

‘Special Jury Recolonization Award’

  •  Anna Yovka (Ukraine)
  • Liang Ling (China)
  • Pedro Licona (Colombia)

 

Alexander Nderitu, who lost his mother to cancer in October 2023, is a poet, novelist, playwright, and critic. His first book, When the Whirlwind Passes, was Africa’s pioneering digital novel. In 2017, Business Daily newspaper named him one of Kenya’s ‘Top 40 Under 40 Men’. In 2022, he took third place in the Share Africa Climate Fiction Awards. In 2023, he was shortlisted for an E. E. Sule/SEVHAGE Books African Criticism Award

 

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

SHOULD PUBLISHERS EMBRACE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?


I feel rather bad for my graphic designer. He used to charge me about Kshs 10k - 12k (USD$ 71.00 - 85.00) for the central image of a book's cover art, and take about a week - two if there were revisions. I now use Artificial Intelligence. It costs me Kshs 0.00 and just a couple of minutes (to key in the "prompts" ie. instructions.)

For now, there's no cause for writers to panic. AI is unlikely to take away THEIR jobs anytime soon. This year, the US film/and TV industry was brought to its knees - yet again - by a strike organized by Writers' Guild of America. Virtually all late-night talk shows temporarily ceased production. The 76th Tony Awards could not be televised. AI can't write original shows, or jokes. It can't actually write literature, either, but it can re-write stuff and imitate styles with remarkable speed and accuracy. It has no soul; no emotions, sense of humour, no storytelling gift.

It can't really replace visual artists entirely, especially for extended projects like comic books or story boards. But for one-off pieces like portraits, posters, book/album covers, 'photos', 'paintings', illustrations etc, it's magical. It can take your breath away!

Frankfurter Buchmesse and Gould Finch carried out research on the nexus between publishing and AI and e-published the results in a paper titled “The Future Impact of Artificial Intelligence on The Publishing Industry” (https://www.stateofdigitalpublishing.com/digital-platform-tools/ai-in-publishing-industry/). The key findings were as follows:

"Artificial Intelligence is not going to replace writers, but it is able to strengthen core-business. While there is technology available to mimic tone and craft plausible 
prose, the narrative arc and a best-seller’s make-up have yet to be reduced to an algorithm. The technology available offers publishers access to an array of new mediums and processes to strengthen areas such marketing and analytics, as well as production and administration.

Investing in Artificial Intelligence doesn’t mean fewer jobs for humans. On the contrary, businesses currently implementing AI, including The Washington Post and Axel Springer as well as smaller publishing houses, have witnessed positive effects on readership statistics and sales, but also better job stability for journalists and writers.

Minimal investments can still bring in monetary benefits."

The conclusion of the research is that:

"AI and its future development offer promising opportunities for the publishing industry. Publishing is a people’s business and our study shows that the technology will not replace human interactions within the industry but offer various improvements in the value chain. Writers will discover new tools with which to expresstheir creativity, marketing creatives will discover new tools to craft personalized campaigns for a wider audience, and customers will be thrilled by new experiences."

I think my AI-aided book covers (an addiction I am now spreading to my writer friends like a common cold) is adequate proof the the above-mentioned paper's conclusion.

Above: Book covers designed with the help of Artificial Intelligence.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

THE ALEXANDER NDERITU PRIZE FOR WORLD LITERATURE

As announced on World Book & Copyright Day 2023, the newest star in the galaxy of literary awards is the Alexander Nderitu Prize For World Literature.

ABOUT 
The Prize will be awarded once per year for a single work of literary merit in the genres that the Founder writes in, ie:

- Novels
- Short stories
- Poetry
- Stage Plays

Entries may come from any part of the world and may have originally been published in any language. It is the Prize’s mission ‘to launch new literary stars’. For this reason, the Prize will include a one-year promotional package for the winner.

JUDGING
The Longlists, Shortlists and eventual Winners will be decided by a panel of Judges chaired by the Founder. The Judges may be of any nationality. The entries will be judged equally, regardless of the nominees' nationality, age, race, gender, religion, or other non-literary factors.

FOUNDER
Alexander Nderitu is an award-winning writer and critic. Some of his works have been translated into Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Kiswahili, French, Swedish, Dholuo, Gikũyũ, and Czech.
PARTNERSHIP
The Prize will begin handing out awards in 2024. In the meantime, the Prize welcomes partners from all over the globe. Areas of partnership may include sponsorship, cross-promotion, judging, publishing, media, and technology. Partners may be individuals, companies, NGOs, academic institutions, government departments, lit mags, or organizers of literary events such as book fairs and literary festivals.

                                ###

For more information, email: admin(at)alexandernderitu.com

                                   

Thursday, February 23, 2023

An Office-based Stage Play by Alexander Nderitu

TITLE: "YUPPIES!"

AUTHOR (S): ALEXANDER NDERITU
CATEGORY: STAGE PLAY (COMEDY)
FORMAT(S): PAPERBACK AND AMAZON KINDLE
PRICE: USD$ 12.00 (PRINT), USD$ 8.00 (KINDLE)
 
 
DESCRIPTION 
 
In the world of finance and investments, Chris – a thirtyish Kenyan businessman - is ‘a giant among insects’. But when it comes to matters of the heart, he’s a dunderhead. The surprise engagement of two of his employees precipitates an encounter with his ‘divalicious’ ex-wife, Yolanda, and sets the stage for scenes that are by turns comic and tender!
 
Written by a guy who was born on William Shakespeare’s birthday, the smart money is on this play becoming a hit!
 
'Popularly known as Kenya's Shakespeare, Alexander is arguably Kenya's most prolific e-poet, playwright and novelist. Surprisingly, he shares the April 23rd birthday - also World Book and Copyright Day - with the legendary English writer William Shakespeare.' - Business Daily, 'Top 40 Under 40 Men' edition (2017)
 
PRODUCT DETAILS
 
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BTTSFM9K
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Alex N. Nderitu; 1st edition (February 2, 2023)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ February 2, 2023
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Print length ‏ : ‎ 120 pages

Alexander Nderitu's New Comic Play

NEW BOOK ALERT!
 
BOOK 2/10 FOR 2023
 
TITLE: "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?"
AUTHOR (S): ALEXANDER NDERITU
CATEGORY: STAGE PLAY (COMEDY)
FORMAT(S): PAPERBACK AND AMAZON KINDLE
AVAILABILITY: WORLDWIDE VIA AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BW384MCB
PRICE: USD$ 10.00 (PRINT), USD$ 9.99 (KINDLE)
 
 

 
DESCRIPTION 
 
Meet Jack Lloyd, a British-born film director teetering on the brink of a personal crisis. His flashy wife is dating a younger man, his teenage daughter has puberty issues, and his latter films are as unpopular as second-hand underwear. At all events, Lloyd’s life is ‘flying apart at the seams’.
 
But this is a comedy and we're in Tinseltown so put on your happy face and prepare to meet Lloyd’s wild bunch of workmates as well: philandering French film producer Jean-Pierre Paquito, heart-throb Ronnie Hunk, weepy Production Assistant Anne, and a cast of cranky actors.
 
Written in the best tradition of humourist S. J. Perelman, 'What’s Wrong With This Picture?' shows why there is no business like show business.
 
PRODUCT DETAILS
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0BW384MCB
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (February 21, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 140 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8378246953