Given the shortage of YA fiction for African readers, the Goethe Institute has been supporting a contest to find more YA writers, and chose to target Africa’s young adults themselves to find the new talent.
435 submissions from 13-19 year old authors across Africa were entered for the Afro Young Adult writing competition.
Those 435 submissions were whittled down to 52, the selected few then invited to workshops in eight countries and three languages – English workshops in Nairobi, Kigali, Accra and Lagos, French workshops in Dakar and Lome, and Kiswahili workshops in Dar es Salaam.
The Nairobi workshop, reports Kenya’s Daily Nation,
was facilitated by prolific writer Kinyanjui Kombani, who won the 2018 CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. Renowned writer Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o also had a talk with the budding writers, encouraging them to aspire to change the world through their writing.
The youngest finalist was 13 year old Selam Teshome, who in 2016 published her first book, In The Land of Shammah, at the age of 10. She has another book with her publisher now.
Selam’s love thriller Savannahs and the Sun goes through to the anthology that will be published later this year.
A Goethe Institute press release said,
Through the Afro Young Adult initiative, not only do we hope for an anthology that Young Adults across Africa will relate to and enjoy, but that this can get more people writing in this genre so that we can have as much diverse YA fiction in short and long form as we do short stories and novels for adults.
The final selection, to be announced later this month, will be published in English, French and Kiswahili in an anthology to be released at the Ake Festival in September.