The Miles Morland Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Morland Writing Scholarships. The MMF awards three scholarships every year to African writers selected by a panel of African judges. The winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year to write a book. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.
The standard this year was exceptionally high. Of 445 submissions received 123 were sent to Morland Readers compared with 76 sent to Readers last year. The Readers selected 22 submissions for the Short List. Because of the difficulty in choosing three winners, the MMF has agreed to award four Writing Scholarships this year with two highly-commended Reserve Scholars who will receive a grant if any of the four Scholars are unable to complete their year.
The winners of the 2014 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship for African Writers are:
- Simone Haysom (South Africa)
- Ahmed Khalifa (Egypt)
- Ndinda Kioko (Kenya)
- Yewande Omotoso (Nigeria-Barbados)
The two Reserve Scholars are:
- Fiona Andia Kisia (Kenya)
- Elnathan John (Nigeria)
- Simone Haysom has published many short pieces of fiction and journalism. This will be her first book. Set in South Africa, it will be a work of non-fiction examining a possible miscarriage of justice following the death by “necklacing” of a suspected thief.
- Ahmed Khalifa is only 21. He will write a novel, his first book, about three generations of Egyptians from the 1952 Revolution to the Arab Spring.
- Ndinda Kioka is a writer and film-maker whose work has appeared in several literary magazines. Her novel will tell the story of a daughter’s quest to conjure up memories of her dead mother.
- Yewande Omotoso published Bomboy, a widely acclaimed first novel in 2011. Her Scholarship book, like Ndinda’s, is a story of loss and a mother’s attempt to come to terms with the death of her daughter.
The Judges, as last year, were three well-known African literary figures:
- Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (Chair) from Zimbabwe, the distinguished editor and publisher;
- Nadifa Mohamed, the award-winning Somali novelist; and
- Olufemi Terry from Sierra Leone, past winner of the Caine Prize.
- The five Readers, all of whom are involved in African literature, were Elise Dillsworth, Ted Hodgkinson, Zoe King, Camilla Rankin and Vimbai Shire.
Miles Morland, who sat in with Michela Wrong, the MMF’s Literary Director, as an observer at the judging said:
“I was blown away by the quality of this year’s entries. Everyone in Africa seems to have a story to tell. Our four new Scholars are potentially world-class writers. I’m delighted we have Sarah Simone’s non-fiction proposal among the winners; there is a shortage of good non-fiction by African writers. And it’s good to see the Judges selecting Ahmed, a relatively unknown 21 year-old with the ambition to write a major Egyptian novel.
Ndinda and Yewande are already well-known figures and I’m confident that they will produce outstanding novels. This year’s submissions covered a wide range of topics. If there’s one thing I missed it’s humour. Africa is a place of laughter and good spirits; I’d like to see more of it in the book proposals. Where is the African P G Wodehouse? Next year, I hope. And a big thank you to the Judges under Ellah’s leadership and another one to our brilliant and perceptive Readers.”
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, chair of the judging panel, said:
“It was encouraging to see the high standard and range of entries this year. My fellow judges and I considered the potential impact of the proposed books, along with the quality of the pieces of published work. We were looking for writers with original stories to tell and for those with distinct styles and a grasp of the chosen form. All four of the Scholars selected show incredible promise. To my mind, these scholarships offer the gift of time, and it is our fervent hope that the year to come will allow the four writers to complete works that can be brought to a wide readership”
The Scholarships were awarded for the first time last year.
The three winners in 2013 Writing Scholarship Awards,
- Doreen Baingana from Uganda,
- Tony Mochama from Kenya, and
- Percy Zvomuya from Zimbabwe, are in the final stages of finishing the books written during the year they have been in receipt of the Scholarships. The MMF looks forward to their being published.
A few facts about the entries. The country of birth of those on the Long List of 123 writers:
- South Africa 32,
- Nigeria 29,
- Kenya 16,
- Zimbabwe 16,
- Uganda 6,
- Ghana 5,
- Sierra Leone 3,
- Zambia 3.
- Of the 22 writers on the Short List, Nigeria and South Africa both had 6, Zimbabwe and Kenya 2. 15 of the Short List were female, 7 male.
In addition to the four new Scholars and two Reserve Scholars named above the following sixteen writers made up the balance of the Short List:
- Ayobami Adebayo (Nigeria), Unoma Azuah (Nigeria), Julie Iromanyua (Nigeria), Bolaji Odufin (Nigeria),Kachi Ozumba (Nigeria),
- Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (Ghana), Cheryl Ntumy (Ghana),
- Sean Christie (Zimbabwe),Bryony Rheam (Zimbabwe),
- Edwidge-Renée Dro (Cote d’Ivoire), Véronique Tadjo (Cote d’Ivoire),
- Kurt Ellis (S Africa), Kerstin Hall (S Africa),Andrew Salomon (S Africa), Myolisi Sikupela (S Africa), Joline Young (S Africa).
For further information about the Miles Morland Foundation or the Scholarships please go to Miles Morland Foundation website: www.milesmorlandfoundation.com or call Katherine Ferrier, the Foundation Secretary on +44 20 7349 5030.