Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta Prize Shortlist: Questions of Marketing the Winners

In News by Dennis Abrams

From the Daily Nation: While publishers in Kenya enjoy seeing their titles win prizes like the Jomo Kenyatta Prize, some may not adequately capitalize on those wins with marketing.

In Nairobi. Image – iStockphoto: Ammonite Foto

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘Boosting the Reading Culture’
ABooks & Beyond, the biennial Text Book Center Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature’s shortlist has been announced. The competition is organized by the Kenya Publishers Association to honor the outstanding works of fiction published in the past two years.

Commenting on the list this year, Joseph Ngunjiri at the Daily Nation writes that publishers will be watching for the results because “this is where they assert their bragging rights. “Having your book win a national award is nothing to be trifled with.

“Leading the pack of publishers” with nominated titles, Ngunjiri writes, “is Longhorn with four nominations, followed closely by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation with three.

“By the look of this year’s nominees,” he writes, “it would appear that Storymoja has elbowed its way up to the big league with two nominations. Spotlight, Moran, Kenya Literature Bureau and Nsemia, have one nomination each.”

Ngunjiri also points up what he sees as a problem in how publishers handle their award-winning titles. “In Europe and the US,” he writes, “publishers invest heavily in marketing award-winning titles and authors, including sponsoring book-signing tours. That way, more book lovers get to know about the winning titles and also buy them, boosting the reading culture.

“In Kenya, apart from the publicity generated by the awards committee of the Nairobi International Book Fair, no other finds are sunk into marketing the winning titles and authors.”

This year’s winners are to be announced on September 30, at the conclusion of Nairobi International Book Fair. Those honored in the adult categories will receive 300,000 Kenyan shillings (US$2,900) each. Winners in the youth categories will receive 150,000 shillings (US$1,450). Winning authors in the children’s categories are awarded 75,000 shillings (US$728).

The Jomo Kenyatta Prize Shortlist 2017

English Adult Category

  • The Whistleblower (Samuel Wachira) published by Longhorn Publishers
  • The Elephant Dance (H. Ole Kulet) published by Longhorn Publishers

Kiswahili Adult Category

  • Majira ya Utasa (Timothy Arege) published by Spotlight Publishers
  • Mashetani Wa Alepo (Tom Olali) published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation
  • Kigodo Cha Simanzi na Hadithi Zingine (Jeff Mandila) published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation

English Youth Category

  • Ghost and Fortune Hunters (Goro Wa Kamau) published by Longhorn Publishers
  • The Wind Under His Wings (Erick Livumbazi) published by Storymoja Publishers
  • The Dreamer (Imali J. Abala) published by Nsemia Inc Publishers

Kiswahili Youth Category

  • Adhabu Ya Mahaba (Peter Juma) published by Longhorn Publishers
  • Zaidi Ya Mipaka (Jeff Mandila) published by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation
  • Majilio Ya Mkombozi (Mwenda Mbatiah) published by Moran Publishers Ltd

English Children Category

  • Koko Riko Take it Easy (Muthoni Muchemi) published by Storymoja Africa
  • Joe’s Amazing Friends (Winnie Thuku) published by Longhorn Publishers
  • Two Huts on Two Hills (Charles Gecaga) published by Longhorn Publishers

Joseph Ngunjiri’s full article at the Daily Nation can be read here.


About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.