The Literary Laddership for Emerging African Authors has announced its 2022 fellows: Olaposi Halim, from Benin City, Nigeria; and Davina Kawuma, from Kampala, Uganda.
The fellowship founder, the Nigerian novelist Suyi Davies Okungbowa, recently profiled in Open Country Mag’s The Next Generation special issue, said:
In this inaugural round, we received 76 applications from writers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda. Our hand-selected, trusted reader-judges spent a month reviewing these applications (anonymously, with all identifying information redacted from reading packets), with a focus on storytelling, language and structure, style/approach/themes, and genre.
While we received many impressive, interesting and exciting submissions from clearly talented applicants, we could only award the fellowship to two candidates, and the two fellows selected above have demonstrated a penchant for high quality prose, unique storytelling approaches, a strong commitment to the writing practice and the promise of similarly impressive work in the future.
The 2022 Fellows
Ola W. Halim, a Pushcart prize-nominated writer, has been shortlisted for the Sevhage Short Story Prize 2019, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021. A finalist for the Gerald Kraak Prize 2022, his work appears in The African Writer, Dwartsonline, Lolwe, Black Pride Magazine, Iskanchi, adda, and Isele Magazine.
The reader-judges said:
This writer has a strong and defined voice. They’re able to set a tone, introduce the protagonist, give us a sense of character, and set up dynamics and themes that are carried throughout the piece. The dialogue feels authentic and the characters are engaging. The writing is solid, and there is obvious talent there. The story’s premise is interesting and unique.
This leads [us] to believe that they can provide an interesting perspective on social issues and will be able to give a fresh take on well-worn themes.
Davina Kawuma grew up in Kampala. The daughter of a midwife and an ophthalmologist, she was raised to respect the palliative effects of humour. Her short fiction has been short-listed for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize, the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize, and the 2022 Gerald Kraak Prize.
The reader-judges said:
The writer feels like a ringmaster commanding sentences with skill. They stomp on grammar and it feels natural. Was it real Ugandan society or a parody? I don’t know, but it felt real. Very cutting and funny. I laughed out loud.
For three months, starting in September 2022, these fellows will receive $500 to buy time, space and/or resources to create new work or complete their existing one. They will be given access to a private community of practice that includes emerging and veteran authors sharing craft lessons, best practices, and insider publishing knowledge. Upon completion of their work, fellows will be provided with the necessary guidance and education—and resources, where possible—to navigate the publishing industry and aid the submission and publication of their work.
If you wish to support this fellowship and help it continue to run, go here.