Burt Award Inspires Young Ethiopian Authors to Keep Writing

Three young Ethiopian authors received the Burt Award for African Literature for their outstanding Young Adult novels telling contemporary stories of youth in their country.

The three winners

Kebere Mala (One Night in the Street), Linda Yohannes (The School Newspaper) and Befekadu Hailu (Children of Their Parents) were all in attendance at a ceremony held in Addis Ababa to celebrate the second round of the Award in Ethiopia. The three authors – who are all active bloggers — participated in the writing workshops offered by CODE and its local partner CODE-Ethiopia as part of the program. They also benefitted from the mentoring of award-winning Canadian author Ted Staunton during the editing and publishing process.

They all agreed that this opportunity was pivotal to their development as writers.

“[Going through the Burt Award process] gave me the chance to get the valuable practice of drafting, editing and finalizing a book,” said second-prize winner Linda Yohannes, a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Addis Ababa.

For his part, first-prize recipient Kebere Mala, who teaches English Language and Literature at a school in the Afar region, said that participating in the workshop led by Canadian author Richard Scrimger allowed him to learn to write from his own experiences in life.

Mala, Yohannes and third-prize winner Befekadu Hailu, an IT professional, received $9,000 CAD, $7,000 CAD and $5,000 CAD respectively in prize money. The publishers of their books also received a guaranteed purchase of 5,000 copies of each title, which will allow CODE-Ethiopia to distribute them to youth across the country.

All three winners extent their heartfelt gratitude to William (Bill) Burt, CODE and CODE-Ethiopia for the opportunity they provided. “Winning the Burt Award was like a springboard,” said Yohannes. “It provided me with the perfect opportunity and hope for me to aspire even more strongly to the dream of being an established Ethiopian writer.”

To read about the winning books:

  1. One Night in the Street, Kebere Mala
  2. The School Newspaper, Linda Yohannes
  3. Children of Their Parents, Befekadu Hailu

Read Linda Yohannes' blog post about her experience.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
News Type: 
Press Release

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