The K & L Prize, for U-25 Writers, Goes to NYSC Member

Mustapha Enesi, a recent graduate and National Youth Service corps member, won for his short story “Kesandu.” The $1,000 prize was this year themed “Madness.”
Mustapha Enesi. Courtesy: K & L Prize.

Mustapha Enesi. Courtesy: K & L Prize.

The K & L Prize, for U-25 Writers, Goes to NYSC Member

The 2021 K & L Prize for African Literature has been awarded to Mustapha Enesi, a young Nigerian university graduate currently completing his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation program. His short story, “Kesandu,” beat other entries from Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, and the Gambia. The theme for this year’s prize was “Madness.”

The $1,000 K &L Prize seeks the best unpublished short story by a writer resident in Africa and between the ages of 18 and 25. The stories, between 1,000 and 2,000 words, are written on a chosen theme.

The other shortlisted writers were Inimfon Inyang, Ntui Vincent Mbey, Chikondi Tembo, Joseph Olamide Babalola, and Chinecherem Udo. The judges were Su’ur Agema, Sisca Julius, and novelist Myles Idoko Ojabo, who launched the award in 2018 and funds it.

All the longlisted stories will appear in Fullmoon, the prize anthology forthcoming in 2022 from Griots Lounge.

Fullmoon, the K & L Prize anthology

In a comment to Open Country Mag, Enesi thanked Ojabo “for sustaining this prize for young writers who are pretty much still struggling to find their feet in the writing community.” Winning, he said, is “an exhilarating experience.”

Ojabo, who has a master’s and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, is based in New Zealand. “On reflecting on my journey as a writer, I decided to establish something I thought I would have enjoyed as an 18 or 25-year-old living in Nigeria,” he said. It is “a platform to fill that gap I missed between my late teenage years and my early twenties.”

Fellow judge Sisca Julius was the inaugural winner. Last year’s recipient, Kanyinsola Olorunnisola, is now an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama.

For Enesi, who studied Agriculture at the University of Ilorin, winning feels surreal. “I won an African Prize for literature. It is a huge win. It is the highest form of validation I could ask for,” he said. “It is pushing me to do more, to write more, to want to apply for an MFA. It made my whole year.”

He continued, “When I say this, I hope I speak for every struggling young writer out there. Writing is difficult, the rewards are fulfilling; we all need validation for our writing, an eye that sees us, and the K & L Prize saw me. I hope it keeps seeing others like me.”


Paula Willie-Okafor, Staff Writer at Open Country Mag

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The $6,000 initiative, sponsored by Africa No Filter, will fund and support five projects representing West, East, and Southern Africa: a musical and art exhibition, 3D fashion and storytelling, a mixed media project on Nok terracotta, a podcast on LGBTQI+ issues, and a documentary on Nollywood.
The manuscript in progress has been acquired by Scribner in the US and W&N in the UK.
In Between Starshine and Clay, the novelist interviews Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama, and Wole Soyinka, among other major Black figures in the arts and politics. “One of the things that was the most surprising was the actual extent to which they forged their own path,” she said.

“An ambitious new magazine that is committed to African literature"

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Get the essential stories in African literature + Nigerian film and TV: in-depth, thought-provoking Profiles, features, reviews, and conversations, as well as news on events and opportunities.

We respect your privacy and will never send you Spam or sell your email.