Kenyans Eligible For A New Continental Prize For Criticism

Ahead of its third anniversary, and in alignment with its commitment to showcasing emerging talent, and promoting critical thinking and cultural discourse, Afrocritik, a niche- and fully-serviced media outfit catering to African entertainment, arts, culture, and lifestyle, recently announced its inaugural Prize for Criticism. 

Since it was founded in 2021, Afrocritik has established itself as a forefront digital media platform highlighting African ingenuity in art and entertainment. Founded to spotlight African creativity, lead conversations and dialogues that promote change and strive for a positive representation of the continent and its diaspora, they have achieved this through insightful criticism and engagement in art, literature, music, film, fashion, policies, and sports, thereby amplifying African voices and narratives on the global stage.  

Speaking about this new prize, co-founder of the platform, Owanate Max-Harry, said, “As Afrocritik approaches its third anniversary, we thought it pertinent to further incentivise critical thinking, especially amongst the literary arts and in young Africans. This is in line with our mission to spotlight excellence in the continent and diaspora at large.”

In recognition of Africa’s literary landscape which has grown over the years to acclaim both on the continent and abroad, the inaugural edition of the Afrocritik Prize for Criticism will spotlight discourse within the works of contemporary African writers.

Books in Review:

The books applicants to the prize are to review are:

Affection & Other Accidents by Dami Ajayi

A poetry collection by Nigerian author Dami Ajayi. Published in 2022, Affections & Other Accidents is Ajayi’s third volume of poems, comprising poems of different forms and lengths. The collection attests to a poet’s state of mind, as told across cities and continents. It intersects romance and heartbreak through politics, music, social justice, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dreaming of Ways to Understand You by Jerry Chiemeke

A short story collection by Nigerian writer, Jerry Chiemeke. First published in 2021 and reproduced in print in 2024, the collection explores the complexities of human relationships. Dreaming of Ways to Understand You addresses important themes like mental health, sexuality, body positivity, ethnic sentiment, and domestic violence, told in a spirited and modern voice. 

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

A novel by Liberian-born Ghanaian academic and writer, Peace Adzo Medie. Published in 2020, His Only Wife is Medie’s debut novel. It follows a young seamstress, Afi Tekple, in a small town in Ghana, who moves to Accra after agreeing to an arranged marriage with the wealthy Elikem Ganyo. She soon finds out that all is not what it seems. But in this new city, she finds her independence in a world run by men. 

The books are available for purchase in Nairobi through Nuria Store Kenya or through Amazon.

Prizes up to $600 will be allotted for the best reviews. The winner will receive a cash prize of $300, with the first and second runners-up receiving $200 and $100, respectively. Entries are open from March 23rd to April 30th, 2024. The Rules of Entry are for reviewers to Submit a 600 to 800-word review each, covering all three books under review. Entries must be submitted as a single document (doc. or pdf file) within the entry period.

The panel of four African writers presiding over this inaugural prize for criticism comprises of Kenyan writers Gloria Mwaniga Odary and Peter Ngila Njeri, and also Adedayo Agarau and Joshua Chizoma from Nigeria.

The Eligibility Criteria for the prize are for Applicants to be between the ages of 17 and 24 and for Applicants to be African citizens residing in Africa. A shortlist of five will be announced first, while the top three will be announced in June, 2024. All shortlisted works will be published on the Afrocritik website.

Proof of age and citizenship may be required during submission. 

Visit bit.ly/afrocritikprizeforcriticism2024 to submit. 

Frank Njugi is a Kenyan Culture journalist and Arts Critic.