Press Release: 

Monday, 3 February 2020 – The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced its panel of judges for 2020. Having marked its 20th anniversary last year, the AKO Caine Prize is looking forward to a new decade of exploring and recognising exceptional African literature.

This year’s Chair of Judges is director of the Africa Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE. A prominent figure in the cultural sphere, Kenneth was made a CBE in recognition of his services to dance, which included working with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. As a passionate champion of the arts, he brings a welcome diversity of experience to the judging panel.

Kenneth will be joined on the panel by Audrey Brown, a South African journalist with BBC Africa in London; Gabriel Gbadamosi, a poet, playwright and essayist who won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize in the Best International Novel category for Vauxhall, published in 2013; Kenyan journalist James Murua, whose prominent blog publishes news and reviews from the African literary scene; and Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, a Dutch-Ethiopian editor currently working at the Council for Culture, where she advises the Dutch Parliament on arts, culture and media.

Judges are drawn from different literary fields including eminent journalists, broadcasters and academics with expertise and a connection to literature in Africa. Five stories are selected for the shortlist by the judges, with one selected as the winner on the day of the award each year. 

Full biographies of each judge can be found on our website here

Commenting on the 2020 panel, Ellah Wakatama OBE, Chair of the AKO Caine Prize, said: “We are honoured to announce such remarkable cultural figures as our 2020 AKO Caine Prize judges. I’m sure that, with his wealth of experience across art forms, Kenneth Tharp will make an excellent Chair, and I wish all the judges great success in deciding our 2020 shortlist and, ultimately, in judicating this year’s winning story.”

The judging panel will meet to determine which entries will make the shortlist, with an announcement on their selection to be published in May 2020.