Sunday, May 26, 2024

THE 2024 ALEXANDER NDERITU PRIZE FOR WORLD LITERATURE 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 Prize will be awarded to the best unpublished short story from anywhere in the world and is aimed at launching new literary stars.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 Entries must be previously unpublished and may be written in English or Kiswahili languages.


  • 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 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 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 MÅ«gumo 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’. ( 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


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