Kenya’s finest authors shortlisted for prize

Kinyanjui Kombani
Mr Kinyanjui Kombani when he won the 2018 Burt Award for for his book Finding Colombia. PHOTO | CORRESPONDENT  

Author Kinyanjui Kombani has dominated this year’s nominations for the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the Wahome Mutahi Literary Award while Longhorn Publishers lead other houses with five titles.

Mr Kombani, who last year won the Code BURT Award for African Young Adult Literature for his book, Finding Colombia, has three titles nominated for the two awards organised by the Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) and sponsored by the Text Book Centre.

In a joint press release, KPA and Text Book Centre announced the merger of the two biennial awards and conversion to an annual event. Jomo Kenyatta prize for Literature is the oldest literary award in the country and has been won by some of Kenya’s literary greats like Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Meja Mwangi, David Mulwa and Henry ole Kulet.

“The Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature produces some of the best works, often used as set books in the country or as university study materials. It is planned that all genres will be covered in future awards to achieve balance and the right mix of creative expression,” Musyoki Muli, the KPA council member in charge of awards told the Nation on phone.

The Wahome Mutahi Prize for Literature honours exceptional works of art written by Kenyans and was established in 2006 to honour the pre-eminent Kenyan humourist and satirist Wahome Mutahi. It will now be a category within the TBC-JKPL awards.


The winners of the various categories will be announced at an award ceremony that will be held held during the closing of the 22nd Nairobi International Book Fair on the September 28,2019. The fair will begin on September 25 2019 at Sarit Centre, Nairobi. The chief guest at the opening ceremony will be Egypt culture minister, Ines Abdel-Dayem. This year, 66 local and 16 international exhibitors will showcase their products. The organisers anticipate over 30,000 visitors.

The nominations for the English adult category are: Remembrance by Lily Mabura (Longhorn Publishers), Elders of the Mace by Mutu wa Gethoi (Longhorn Publishers) and A Spider’s Web by Samuel Wachira (One Planet and Media Services).

In the Kiswahili adult category, veteran authors John Habwe (for Hidaya Yangu Published by Moran Publishers (E.A) and Mwenda Mbatiah (for Watoto Wa Mwelusi published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation) made it to the shortlist alongside F.M. Kagwa who wrote Hujafa Hujaumbika that was Published by Longhorn Publishers.

It is the English Youth Category that Kinyanjui Kombani got two nominations. His books, Finding Columbia and Do or Do, both published by Oxford University Press, East Africa. A Boy Named Coco by Adipo Sidang’ and Published by Longhorn Publishers completes the shortlist.