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Here are the winners of the Maisha Yetu Awards 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, Maisha Yetu would like to appreciate and celebrate the best in terms of books and honour them with the Maisha Yetu Excellence Awards for 2023.

For hosting a successful Nairobi International Book Fair, the Kenya Publishers Association, for the second year running, takes the Maisha Yetu Award for the Best Body Corporate. This year, NIBF went a step further and hosted the first ever Rights Trading forum, in conjunction with eKitabu and the African Publishers Forum (APNET)


In early September Peter Ngila Njeri, won the 2023 edition of the James Currey Prize for African Literature with his fiction manuscript, The Legend of Beach House. He beat other writers including those from Western and Southern African countries. What is more, Ngila shared his prize money with fellow nominees (he did not have to do that). For that reason, we award him the Maisha Yetu Young Writer of the Year (Male)


Eunniah Mbabazi, is a self-published author and editor. Despite being a trained engineer, Eunniah chose a life of writing and publishing, with its ups and downs. She has written Breaking Down, an anthology of short stories, If My Bones Could Speak, a collection of poems, Unbirthed Souls, a collection of short stories and My Heart Sings Sometimes, a collection of poems. She has also edited, When A Stranger Calls, an anthology of Short stories, by different writers, currently doing well in the market. Eunniah, thus takes home the Maisha Yetu Young Writer of the Year (Female).


Will Clurman is the CEO of eKitabu. For masterminding the Rights Café Pavilion, the first ever rights trading forum at the Nairobi International Book Fair, where 13 agents from different publishing, houses across the globe, congregated at the Nairobi International Book Fair, where several publishing deals were inked, Will Curlman wins the Maisha Yetu CEO of the Year Award.


The Alliance Française in Nairobi has, since November 2019, offered its library space for authors, mostly young and self-published, to launch their books, free of charge, as well as hosting literary debates. This year alone, more than 50 books have been launched at the Alliance Française library. AF also hosts the Nyrobi Book Fest, where self-published authors have an opportunity to exhibit their books for free. For its role in promoting literature and writing, the  Alliance Française gets the 2023 Maisha Yetu Foreign Cultural Organisation of the Year.


Independently published writers aka self-published writers, have for the longest time agonised over an outlet for their creative outlet. Many bookstores impose stringent, nay, impossible rules for them to stock independently published books. This changed when Nuria Bookstore came onto the scene. Nuria revolutionised bookselling in Kenya. Many first-time writers, who are mostly self-published found a willing ally in Nuria.

Nuria not only stocks their books for sale, they also help them market. Nuria, a brainchild of Abdullahi Bulle, goes out of its way to seek out events where they can sell, market, and generally promote books and their authors.

For the second year running, Nuria gets the 2023 Maisha Yetu Bookseller of the Year Award.


The 2023 Maisha Yetu Award for the Most Creative, Most Sustained and thus, the Most Effective Marketing Campaign for a Book goes to Rough Silk, a memoir by Deborah Auko Tendo. The book shares the remarkable story of her father, a man who lived an extraordinary life in ordinary circumstances. Through his daughter’s eyes, we see his wisdom, his humor, his love and his legacy.


In May this year, Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) donated foodstuffs, books and other assorted items to Eldoret School for the Hearing Impaired. This was during the Eldoret Regional Book Fair. Come September, KPA did the same for the Compassionate Hands for the Disabled in Ruai, during the Nairobi International Book Fair. Donating to the less fortunate has become a ritual for KPA, whenever they organise a book Fair.

It is thus in order for KPA to receive the 2023 Maisha Yetu Corporate Social Responsibility Award.


The 2023 Maisha Yetu Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Edward Mburu Gachina. Mzee Gachina, 76, from Kandara in Muranga, beat all the odds to write and publish his memoirs, The Odyssey of an African Man. Despite the fact that he is just an ordinary retired old man, living in the village, he felt compelled to pen his autobiography for the sake of future generations. He is a retired accountant.


John Kiriamiti, is reformed bank robber, who wrote My Life in Crime, while still in jail. For its vivid descriptions, twists and turns, cliff-hanger suspense and easy conversational writing style My Life in Crime remains a Kenyan bestseller 38 years after its publication. Little wonder then that when Neflix Kenya asked Kenyans, which book they would wish to be turned into a movie, Kenyans on social media voted for My Life in Crime, closely followed in second position to Mwangi Gicheru’s Across the Bridge.

Kiriamiti has written four other equally popular book, My Life in Prison, My Life with a Criminal, The Sinister Trophy and Son of Fate. This year alone, Kiriamiti headlined three major literary events in Nairobi, The NBO Litfest, The Nairobi International Book Fair and the Nyrobi Book Fest. It is for that reason that we award him the Maisha Yetu Personality of the Year.


Silas Nyanchwani and Jacob Aliet have in the past two years made a name for themselves, for publishing socially conscious books that seek to advise men on how to lead better lives. Though their writing tends to be a bit controversial, these two writers have kept at it, in the process earning themselves grudging respects from some of their most persistent critics (women). Aliet is the author of Unplugged, which he recently upgraded to Unplugged 2 and 3. Nyanchawani, other hand dispenses his wisdom through 50 Memos to Men 1 and 2.

Nyachwani and Aliet make a tie and therefore share the 2023 Social Awareness Campaign through books.


The Maisha Yetu Children’s Category Award goes to Brian Wairegi and the triplets of Julie, Jeremy and Jason Mugo. All are aged ten and have published books. Brian has written A Visit to the Farm, while the twins have written Triplet Tales.


The Maisha Yetu Award for publisher of the Year Award goes to eKitabu for curating and hosting the very successful Rights Café at the Nairobi International Book Fair, a first in the region, where agents from different international publishers held talks with various authors and publishers in Kenya, with a view to buying rights to those books.


Author’s Feet is a YouTube based show that features interviews with Kenyan authors. For its role in expanding and cementing the writers’ craft in Kenya, Author’s Feet, produced by Cynthia Abdallah Productions and hosted by the lively Ciku Kimani-Mwaniki, takes the 2023 Maisha Yetu Literary Show of the Year, for the second year running.


For consistently bringing us news an information on African books, African authors and the general publishing scene in Africa, James Murua, who runs the Writing Africa website, takes the Maisha Yetu Blogger of the year.

Awards Books Fiction Issues News

Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature: A call for entries

The Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) has made a call for submissions for the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature. Winners of the award will be unveiled in September, during the 24th edition of the Nairobi International Book Fair.

Titles to be submitted must have been published between 2020 and May 2022. There are two levels of awards: The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and The Wahome Mutahi Award for Humour and Satire.

The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature has three main categories, namely Adult, Youth and Children. Each category has an English and Kiswahili version.

The Wahome Mutahi Literary Award has an English and Kiswahili category. Writers of drama/plays can submit their entries under the adult category of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize and the Wahome Mutahi Award.

Submissions for each category should be accompanied with five non-returnable copies of the book to be entered. Each submission should also be accompanied by a fee of sh10,000 for KPA members and sh25,000 for non-members.

All entries must have been published in Kenya. Although the quality of the content will be the overriding criterion, there are other considerations to be looked into. These are: quality of binding, cover design, quality of paper used, quality of illustrations where applicable and the general layout of the book.

The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature is the brainchild of KPA. It was established in the early 1970s and is open to Kenyan writers whose works are published in Kenya. The prize is awarded to the author of the most outstanding new book in all the categories.

Arts Awards Culture Events Fiction Issues News Non-Fiction Releases Short story

Submissions for Kendeka Prize now open

Short story writers have until May 15 to submit their entries to the Kendeka Prize for African Literature.

The call out for submission for the 2023 prize was made on Saturday January 28, during the inaugural Kendeka Lecture, held at the Mount Kenya University. The lecture, titled Why Literature Matters and Literary Prizes Matter, was delivered by Prof Austin Bukenya.

Entry for the prize is free.

“The Prize will be awarded for the best unpublished short story either in fiction or creative non-fiction,” says a statement from the Kendeka secretariat, signed by Andrew Maina, the founder. “The first prize will be Ksh100,000, while the second and the third prizes shall be Ksh50,000 and Ksh25,000 respectively.”

The announcement was made by Prof Goro Kamau, the incoming chair of the Kendeka Prize for African Literature.

Entrants must be born in, or are citizens of any African country. Manuscripts should be of between 3000 and 5000 words and must be in English.

The overall winner of the 2022 Prize was Scholastica Moraa,(Kenya) for her short story titled ‘Chained’. Adaoro Raji, (Nigeria) was the first runners-up for her story Star Boy’, while Beverley Ann Abrahams, from Zimbabwe was the second runners-up for her short story, Isithunzi’.

The winner of the 2021 Kendeka Prize for African Literature was Jenny Robson, Botswana, author of Water for Wine. Fatima Okhousami, from Nigeria, was the first runners-up for her story, The Women of Atinga House, while Okpanachi Irene Ojochegbe, from Nigeria, was the second runners-up for her story, Au Pair.

Other submission guidelines.

  • One entry per writer.
  • Entries should be attached in Microsoft Word or Rich Text format, with the title of the story as the file name.
  • The first page of the story should include the title of the story and the number of words.
  • The entry must be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font with 1.5 line spacing.
  • Entries must be sent as attachments to an email.
  • The email to which the story is attached must include the legal name of the writer, telephone number, a short Bio, age, and country of residence.
  • Entrants agree that the prize organizers may publicize the fact that a story has been entered, long listed, shortlisted or won the prize.
  • An author of a long listed story agrees to its inclusion in the anthology, and to work with editors to get the story ready for publication.
  • The long listing of a story is not a guarantee that the story shall be included in the anthology.
  • The winners, first and second runners-up in the past Kendeka Prize, are not eligible.
  • Every author confirms that the submission is their original work, it has not been published anywhere else, and that it has not been long listed in this prize or in any other prize.
  • The entrant gives exclusive global print and digital rights to Solano Publications Ltd for the long listed stories for publication in an anthology. The author retains the copyright.
  • The judges’ decision is final.
Arts Awards Culture Events Fiction News Personalities Poetry

Cynthia Abdallah wins 2022 Itanile Award

Kenya’s Cynthia Abdallah is among the winners of the 2022 Itanile Awards. The Awards, administered by Itanile Magazine, rewards the effort and commitment of literary creatives for advancing the African experience, through storytelling.

“We select winners of the award from works we publish from January to December every year,” says Itanile. “Our guest editor selected winners based on strength, quality, and the impact of their works on the Itanile community. The winners in each category received $200 each.”

Ms Abdallah won in the Chapbook category, for her poetry collection, Author’s Feet.

In the Fiction category, the winners were Chioma Mildred Okonkwo for Time is Different Over Here and Enit’ayanfe Ayosojumi Akinsanya for A Rehearsal of Shame. In the Poetry category, the winners were Onyedikachi Shaquille Johnson for May the Thirtieth and Olabisi Akinwale At the Twilight of Your Sojourner.

Itanile is a literary brand that provides a platform for African writers to publish stories they want to tell about the African experience.

The awarded works, selected by guest editors, will be chosen based on strength, quality, and impact on the Itanile community. All works published by Itanile throughout the year – up till October – will be considered for the awards.

Ms Abdallah is a multi-talented artist. She is not only a writer; she is also a filmmaker. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, My Six Little Fears and The Author’s Feet. She has also authored a collection of short stories: The Musunzu Tree and Other Stories.

Two of her documentaries, Tales from the Pandemic and Inyumba Yu Mulogooli, were nominated for the Kalasha 2022 Awards. 

She is also the producer of The Author’s Feet, a show available on YouTube. 

Ms Abdallah, 36, is based in Caracas Venezuela, where she teaches English and Literature.