Judges are drawn from different literary fields including eminent journalists, broadcasters and academics with expertise and a connection to literature in Africa. Five stories are selected for the shortlist by the judges, with one being selected as the winner on the day of the award in July each year.
Peter Kimani - CHAIR OF 2019 JUDGES
Peter Kimani started his career as a journalist and is the author of several works of poetry and fiction, most recently, the historical fiction, Dance of the Jakaranda, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The novel was nominated for the 2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Awards, and longlisted for the Big Books Prize run by Hearst, the UK’s biggest magazine publisher, and the People’s Book Prize, chaired by bestselling British author, Frederick Forsyth.
Born in 1971 in Kenya, Kimani earned his doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Programme in 2014. He had a long stint as a journalist in Kenya, rising to senior editor at The Standard—the oldest newspaper in the region. He toured the continent extensively on assignment, covering conflicts from Darfur to Somalia, while documenting reconstruction efforts, from South Sudan to Somaliland. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, The New African, Sky News, and the Daily Nation.
Kimani has taught at the University of Houston and Amherst College in the US, and is presently on the faculty of the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi.
Sefi Atta was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1964 and currently divides her time between the United States, England and Nigeria. She is the author of Everything Good Will Come (2005), News from Home (2010), Swallow (2010), A Bit of Difference (2013), Drama Queen (2018), The Bead Collector (2019) and the forthcoming Sefi Atta: Selected Plays (2019). She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in England, a Certified Public Accountant in the United States, and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2006. Atta was a juror for the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and has received several literary awards for her works, including the 2006 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and the 2009 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. In 2015, a critical study of her novels and short stories, Writing Contemporary Nigeria: How Sefi Atta Illuminates African Culture and Tradition, was published by Cambria Press. Also, a playwright, her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC and her stage plays have been performed and published internationally.
Margie Orford is an internationally acclaimed writer. Her Clare Hart novels – a literary crime fiction series that explores violence and its effects in South Africa – are published in the USA and the UK and have been widely translated into more than ten languages. They include Like Clockwork (2006), Blood Rose (2006), Gallows Hill (2009), Daddy’s Girl (2011), and Water Music (2013). They have led to her being described by The Weekender as the ‘queen of South African crime-thriller writers.’ She is also an award-winning journalist who writes for papers in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Apart from her fiction, she writes regularly about crime, gender violence, politics and freedom of expression, and literature. She has written a number of children’s books and several works of non-fiction on subjects ranging from climate change to rural development. She was born in London to South African parents but grew up in Namibia and South Africa where she was educated at the University of Cape Town. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1999 and has a Masters in Comparative Literature from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. She was the John Tilney Writer in Residence at the University of York in 2015 and is a Civitella Ranieri Fellow. She is a member of the executive board of PEN International, an Honorary Fellow at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, the patron of Rape Crisis and of the children’s book charity, the Little Hands Trust.
Scott Taylor is professor and director of the African Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Originally from New York, he has studied, worked, and traveled widely in Africa for three decades, and has resided in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. He received his MA and Ph. D. in political science from Emory University, and an AB in Government from Dartmouth College. As an academic, his research and teaching interests lie in the areas of African politics and political economy, with a particular emphasis on governance and political and economic reform. His articles have appeared in numerous political science and area studies journals, and he the author of four books: Politics in Southern Africa: Transition and Transformation; Culture and Customs of Zambia; Business and the State in Southern Africa: The Politics of Economic Reform; and Globalization and the Cultures of Business in Africa: From Patrimonialism to Profit. He has served as consultant for numerous organizations, including DFID, USAID, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Carter Center, and as an advisor to Freedom House, as well as other organizations and firms in Africa and the US. Scott has served as an election observer in a number of African countries, including in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Olufemi Terry, a freelance writer, essayist and journalist based in Washington, DC, is the Sierra-Leone born winner of the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. His fiction has been translated into French and German, and published most recently in the One World Two global anthology of short stories.
As a panel juror for international arts and writing prizes and scholarships, he has played an integral role in the award to date of over £450,000 to writers and visual artists.