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. 

Please see below for a list of past judges. 

Judges 2015 


Zoë Wicomb is a South African writer who lives in Scotland where she is Emeritus Professor in English Studies at Strathclyde University. Her critical work is on Postcolonial theory and South African writing and culture. Her works of fiction are You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town, David’s Story, Playing in the Light, The One That Got Away and October. Wicomb is a recipient of Yale’s 2013 Windham-Campbell Prize for fiction.


Zeinab Badawi is a Sudanese-British television and radio journalist. In 2009 she was awarded International TV Personality of the Year by the Association of International Broadcasters. She is the current Chair of the Royal African Society, a patron of the BBC Media Action and a former trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. 


Brian Chikwava won the Caine Prize in 2004 and is the author of Harare North, published by Jonathan Cape (English, 2009) and Editions Zoe (French, 2011). His short fiction has appeared in anthologies published by Picador, Granta, Weaver Press, Jacana, Umuzi and also been broadcast on BBC Radios 3 and 4 and the BBC World Service.


Neel Mukherjee is the author of the award-winning debut novel, A Life Apart (2010). His second novel, The Lives of Others (2014), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has reviewed fiction widely for a number of UK, Indian and US publications. He lives in London.


Cóilín Parsons is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he teaches Irish literature, modernism, and postcolonial literature and theory. Cóilín, who is from Ireland, received his PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Before joining Georgetown’s English department, he was a Lecturer in English at the University of Cape Town.

Judges 2014

Jackie Kay MBE (Chair)





Percy Zvomuya


Dr. Nicole Rizzuto


Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. Jackie won the Guardian Fiction Award for her novel Trumpet, which was also shortlisted for the IMPAC award. She won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and the London Book Award for Red Dust Road, and the Decibel British Book Award for her book of stories entitledWish I Was Here. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002 and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

Helon Habila was born in Nigeria  and in 2001 his short story, “Love Poems”, won the Caine Prize and his first novel, Waiting for an Angel, was published the following year. The novel went on to win the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section) in 2003. In 2005-2006 Helon was the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York. He stayed on in America as a professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University.


Percy Zvomuya is a Zimbabwean journalist, football fan and critic. He is a co-founder of The Con Magazine, a Johannesburg writing collective. His writing has appeared in various publications including Africasacountry.com, Mail & Guardian, The Sunday Times (South Africa) and Chimurenga.  He is working on a biography of Robert Mugabe. He is a Miles Morland fellow and Wiser-Duke fellow.



South African born Gillian Slovo is the author of twelve novels and a family memoir. Her novel Ice Road was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and Red Dust, which won the RFI Temoin du Monde prize, was made into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Hilary Swank.



Nicole Rizzuto is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University.  Her areas of concentration include modernist and contemporary Anglophone literature, with a focus on narratives of Britain, Africa, and the Caribbean. Nicole Rizzuto received her PhD from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature. Before joining Georgetown’s English department, she was Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University.

Judges 2013

L to R: Nathan Hensley, Leila Aboulela, Gus Casely-Hayford, Sokari Douglas Camp, John Sutherland

L to R: Nathan Hensley, Leila Aboulela, Gus Casely-Hayford, Sokari Douglas Camp, John Sutherland

Gus Casely-Hayford (Chair)

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford is an art historian and broadcaster, currently holding the position of Research Associate at SOAS. After completing his PhD in African history, Gus proceeded to teach a number of degree and MA courses in international culture. His second Lost Kingdoms of Africa series was broadcast on the BBC in early 2012. Gus was the director of Africa05 and has advised high-profile institutions such as the United Nations and the Canadian, Dutch and Norwegian Arts Councils.

Nathan Hensley

Nathan K. Hensley is Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University, where his work and teaching focus on nineteenth-century British literature, critical theory, and the novel. His critical articles have appeared in Victorian Studies, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and a collection, The Politics of Gender in Anthony Trollope's Novels: New Readings for the Twenty-First Century. Hensley holds degrees from Vassar College (B.A.), the University of Notre Dame (M.A.), and Duke (Ph.D), where he was also a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow. He was born and raised in Fresno, California.

Leila Aboulela

Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000. Leila adapted her winning story The Museum for Radio 4. BBC radio has adapted her work extensively and broadcast a number of her plays including The Mystic Life and the historical drama The Lion of Chechnya. Her third novel Lyrics Alley, was published in January 2010 by Weidenfeld Nicolson. Set in 1950s Sudan, Lyrics Alley is the Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. It was long-listed for the Orange Prize and short-listed for a Regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Leila grew up in Khartoum and has lived much of her adult life in Scotland.

Sokari Douglas Camp

Sokari Douglas Camp was born in Buguma, Rivers State, Nigeria. She studied fine art at Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. She has had more than 40 solo shows worldwide, and has work in permanent collections at The Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C., Setagaya Museum, Tokyo and the British Museum, London. In 2005 she became an Honorary Fellow of University of the Arts London and was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to art. 

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at UCL. In a long career in Britain and America, John has written many books (most recently Lives of the Novelists: a History of Fiction in 294 Lives) and has judged a number of literary prizes including the James Tait Black, the Booker, the Man Booker, and the Encore. He believes that, in the huge profusion of published literature at the present time, prizes have a necessary and highly useful function in raising quality and discrimination. And, in the case of the Caine Prize, directing attention to areas of creativity.