Literary prizes in Kenya: Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature

Started by Professor Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Dr. Lizzy Attree in 2014, the Mabati-Cornell Kiswahili Prize for African Literature is a joint effort between Cornell University and Mabati Rolling Mills. It is awarded to the best unpublished manuscripts or books in Kiswahili published within two years of the award. Poetry, fiction, memoirs and graphic novels are eligible.


  • Winners in prose and poetry get $5,000
  • Runners up in any genre get $3,000
  • First runners up get $2,000

In addition the winning entry is published in Kiswahili by East African Educational Publishers (EAEP) and the best poetry book is translated and published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

The winners spend a week in residence at Cornell University and another at an additional partner institution. The award ceremonies are held in Kenya, Tanzania and Cornell University.

  Entry rules:

  • Kenyan and Tanzanian writers are eligible.
  • Fiction manuscripts should have at least 50,000 words.
  • Poetry manuscript should be at least 60 pages long.
  • The entry must be typed in Times New Roman 12 point font with 1.5 line spacing.
  • The first page of the story should include the name of the story and the number of words.
  • Entrants must include: legal name, pen name (if any), telephone number, a short bio, age, and country of residence.
  • Manuscripts should be sent to as an attachment in Microsoft Word or Rich Text format.
  • For published works the publisher must send three hard copies to: Africana Studies and Research Center, 310 Triphammer Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.

NOTE: Submissions are done around March.

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