The 2021 Edition of The James Currey Prize for African Literature Opens For Submissions.

The James Currey Prize for African Literature is an annual award for the best unpublished work of fiction written in English by any writer, set in Africa or on Africans in Africa or in the Diaspora.

It was established in 2020 by Nigerian writer, filmmaker and publisher of Hattus Books, Onyeka Nwelue, in honour of James Currey, the leading publisher of academic books on Africa – dedicated to distributing books about Africa in Africa.

The winner receives £1000.

The initiative is powered by the World Arts Agency.


James Currey, co-founder of James Currey publishers (est 1984) has been called “The Godfather of African Literature”. His publishing house is responsible for producing vast numbers of academic books, journals, fiction and non fiction books about Africa, especially in a period when it was considered not profitable to publish books about Africa. He, together with Chinua Achebe, under the auspices of Heinemann publishers, produced the famous African Writers Series (AWS) which has inspired many African(ist)s around the world.



a) The James Currey Prize is worth £1000 to the winner. The Prize is awarded by a panel of judges appointed each year by World Arts Agency.

b) The Prize is awarded annually for the best first unpublished full-length work of fiction written in English.

c) The winner of the Prize will be selected from a longlist of ten titles, followed by a shortlist of three outstanding manuscripts submitted for the prize.


a) Any eligible manuscript which is entered for the Prize will only qualify if they meet the criteria for submission and it satisfies the conditions set out in the rules.

b) The winning author will be signed to World Arts Agency, if they do not have an agent.

c) Each shortlisted author will be invited to attend the Prize ceremony.

d) The curators reserve the right to vary the Rules and Conditions of Entry and may also alter the published programme without prior notice as necessary.


a) Writers may enter up to two unpublished full-length manuscripts.

b) Entry forms must be submitted by April 1st, 2021 to

c) World Arts Agency will acknowledge every entry.


a) Any full-length unpublished manuscript of fiction, is eligible. Short stories or novella are not eligible.

b) Authors must be living at the time of submission.

c) Only manuscripts in English are eligible.

d) The decision of the Judges shall be binding and final.

e) All submissions are made on a confidential basis.

  1. A longlist of ten titles will be announced on June 1st, 2021.
  2. A shortlist of three titles will be announced on July 1st, 2021.
  3. The winner will be announced on September 3rd, 2021.



Sarah Inya Lawal (chair)

Sarah Inya Lawal is a producer, talent manager and business development Manager working across theatre, film, TV and brand management for artists.

Inya is the founder of Ascend Talent Management and has worked as the branding and communications director at Uniexcel Limited and Victoria Holdings where she developed a slate of highly acclaimed media projects. She holds a Masters in Artistic Performance from Stockholm University in Sweden.

She has co-produced some of the most talked about stage plays in Nigeria and developed and continues to manage the careers of some of the finest talents from Africa and its diaspora.

Inya is producing several TV and Film projects.

Bibi Ukonu

Bibi Ukonu is an architect, poet, novelist and publisher. He is published online, and in print magazines, such as Pyramid Magazine and Twilight Musings of the International Library of Poetry. He is also the Editor of CityDezigns Magazine, and writes about Architecture and Sustainable Development. THINGS THAT START SMALL BUT SWEET is his second collection of short stories, and has won him the 1st Runner Up, ANA/Abubakar Gimba Prize for Short Stories.

He is the Cofounder of Griots Lounge Publishing, and the Publisher of Griots Lounge Publishing Canada.

Pinkie Mekgwe

Dr. Pinkie Mekgwe is the Senior Regional Advisor for Africa and West Asia at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Before joining International IDEA in 2018, Mekgwe was Executuve Director for Internationalisation at the University of Johannesburg. She also previously served as Deputy Director for International Education and Partnerships at the University of Botswana, and as Programme lead for Education at TrustAfrica, as well as Programme Officer for Research, Gender and the Humanities for the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

Previously, she taught courses in gender and literary studies at the universities of Sussex and Botswana. At the latter, she also led the Literary writing programme, and was adjudicator on the Bessie Head prize for literature panel. Dr Mekgwe has been a visiting researcher at the Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) and at Malmo university in Sweden.

She remains a passionate supporter of the creative arts in Africa.

Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph

Kennedy hails from Nigeria. He’s the CEO & Co-Founder at Africave: a company that builds distributed teams and connects global companies to Africa’s elite software engineering talent.

He was the first Nigerian recipient of the Yenching Scholarship (dubbed the Chinese Rhodes Scholarship) and studied for a master’s degree in Economics.

He’s previously worked at Accenture and ByteDance where he built TikTok’s Africa business strategy working from the Beijing HQ.

He’s been recognized by HM Queen Elizabeth II as a Queen’s Young Leader.

Arun “Jay” Janakiraman

Inspired by Marshall McLuhan, Arun believes “the product is the message”.

Arun Janakiraman has a track record of leading product management and design efforts that have impacted hundreds of millions of people globally. Some of the products he has helped build and grow include SlideShare, Scribd, LinkedIn Learning,, and Pinterest.

Barbara Adair

Barbara Adair is a writer with published experience in the following areas: fiction, both novels and short stories, travel articles, book reviews.

She writes, and also works part time at the University of the Witwatersrand Writing Centre and in Nairobi, Kenya, consulting and assisting students in critical thinking.

She previously practised as an attorney litigating on human rights issues, and thereafter taught at the Wits School of Public and Development Management.

Barbara is currently registered as a PhD student at the University of Pretoria.

She is author of In Tangier We Killed the Blue Parrot.

Miko Yamanouchi

Miko Yamanouchi is the President of Japan UNI Agency, Inc., the leading literary agency in Tokyo, representing major US/European publishers/agencies, as well as introducing Japanese books to the world. Having placed Oyinkan Braithwaite, William Kamkwamba, Gaile Parkin, and Maaza Mengiste, JUA is seeking great literary talent in Africa.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date