A Nigerian writer, OluTimehin Adegbeye, has emerged winner of the 2019 Gerald Kraak Prize.
This was announced on Thursday night at the ceremony in Johannesburg, where the prize anthology The Heart of the Matter was also launched.
A shortlist of 19 writers had been announced in April from over 400 submissions received from across the continent.
Adegbeye’s nonfiction piece, “Mothers and Men,” described by the judges as “a sensitive memoir casting new light on questions of rape, secondary victimisation and motherhood” earned her the prize.
Founded in 2016 by Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation, in honour of the late activist Gerald Kraak, the R25 000 Gerald Kraak Prize aims to honour writing and photography by Africans which “provoke thought on the topics of gender, social justice and sexuality.”
A writer, speaker, and activist, Adegbeye’s work focuses on gender, women’s rights, sex, sexuality and sexual violence, urban poverty, and sustainable development; and her writings have been featured in LatterlyMagazine, Open Democracy, Premium Times, This Is Africa, StyleMANIA, Essays Magazine, Klassekampen, and Women’s Asia 21, among others.
Her TED Talk, “Who Belongs in a City?”, was chosen by TED Lead Curator Chris Anderson as one of the ten most notable talks of 2017.
An alumna of the inaugural Writing for Social Justice workshop organised by AWDF in collaboration with FEMRITE, the Farafina Trust Creative Writing workshop, and the BRITDOC Queer Impact Producers Lab, she is a Carrington Youth Fellow and a Women Deliver Young Leader.
The judges for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize were the South African memoirist and activist, Sisonke Msimang, author of Always Another Country (2017) and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela (2018); a law professor at Makerere University and feminist thinker, Sylvia Tamale, author of African Sexualities: A Reader (2011); the South African journalist and nonfiction writer, Mark Gevisser, author of Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (1994), Portraits of Power: Profiles in a Changing South Africa (1996), and Lost and Found in Johannesburg: A Memoir (2012); and the Nigerian writer and literary journalist Otosirieze Obi-Young, deputy editor of Brittle Paper, an editor at 14, and a judge for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarships.
According to the judges who were taken by the fierce intensity of ‘Mothers and Men’ – a meditation on the bonds between mothers and daughters, the text explores the fragility of healing with a rare sensitivity and insight.
Adegbeye’s voice walks the fine line between heartbreak and redemption, casting new light on questions of rape and secondary victimisation in ways that are new and important.
She is an urgent and timely voice and both her substantive interests and her prose and befitting of a prize that exists to champion human rights and complicate the framing of what it means to be African today, they added.
The fiction prize went to “A Sickness Called Longing,” by Chukwuebuka Ibeh (Nigeria); and the poetry prize to “On My Coming Out” by Chisom Okafor (Nigeria).
The judges commended entries in each category, except photography, which received few submissions, with none shortlisted.