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Kinyanjui Kombani wins 2018 Burt Award for Africa

CODE and the Ghana Book Trust proudly announce the winner, the honour book, and the finalists of the 2018 Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature, which recognizes outstanding writing for young adults by African authors, at an award ceremony at the Ghana International Book Fair in Accra, Ghana.

The international jury received a total of 17 titles from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. They selected one winner, one honour book and three finalists. “We were all impressed with the varied themes and messages in this year’s submissions as well as the presentation, style and structure. All of these stories address topical issues that will resonate with young readers.”

Finding Colombia by Kinyanjui Kombani (Kenya) is the winner of the 2018 CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. Kinyanjui received a cash prize of $10,000.00 CDN, while his publisher, Oxford University Press, East Africa Limited received a guaranteed purchase of 2,000 copies for distribution in Kenya, 2,000 copies for distribution in Tanzania and a $2,000 CDN grant to market the title across Africa.

Kinyanjui is known in Kenya as “the banker who writes” because not only is he an author of 13 published titles, but he is also a banker, a learning facilitator, award-winning entrepreneur and a business mentor. His newest novel for young adult readers was a finalist in the 2017 National Burt Award in Kenya and went on for consideration in the CODE Burt Award for Africa. Finding Colombia is an action-packed adventure story involving the local Anti-Drug Agency (ADA), a covert operation involving a notorious and influential but elusive drug baron, and a young man who is determined to find a purpose in life as he deals with the reality of the drug culture.

The 2018 CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature Honour Book went to To Kiss a Girl (Ghana) by Ruby Yayra Goka, published by Digibooks Ghana Ltd. Ruby received a cash prize of $2,000 CDN, and her publisher received a guaranteed purchase of 2,000 copies for distribution in Ghana and a grant of $2,000 CDN to promote the title throughout Africa. Ruby is no stranger to the CODE Burt Literary Awards, her young adult novels have won both the National CODE Burt Award in Ghana and the 2017 All-Star Honour Book. Ruby’s books are enthusiastically enjoyed by youth and her storytelling is exciting, well-crafted, and touches on themes that all young people can relate to. To Kiss a Girl addresses the universal themes of relationships along with difficult by no less important themes of illness, pain and death. In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, Gyikua Ampofo loses faith in everything she ever believed in—God, a mother’s love, school and friends. But then she meets Chidi Anukwe and as their friendship grows, she learns to trust again.

The 2018 Finalists for the CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature are: The Lion’s Whisper (Ghana) by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, published by Kwadwoan Publishers; Ebony Girl (Ghana) by Vera Akumiah, published by Kwadwoan Publishers; and Somebody’s Daughter (Ethiopia)  by Hiwot Walelign published by Mega Publishing. The finalist authors each received a cash prize of $1,000 CDN. These books have also been recognized by the National CODE Burt Award program in each country and all are an exciting addition to young adult fiction in Africa.

Through its local implementing partners and rights sales in each of the program countries, CODE will distribute 12,000 copies each of the winner and honour book to schools, libraries, community organizations across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania throughout 2018-2019. These books will become front and center of CODE’s Read with Me campaign and author tour events in 2018.

The CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature was established by CODE—a Canadian charitable organization that has been advancing literacy and learning for more than 59 years—in collaboration with the Literary Prizes Foundation. The CODE Burt Literary Award is a global readership initiative that includes programs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, the Caribbean, and Canada.

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