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Judges 2014

Golden Baobab has announced the judges for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes. Established to inspire the writing and publishing of African stories that captivate the minds of children, the prizes award $20,000 to talented African writers and illustrators. 

The 2014 judges are:

  • Summer Edward, Anansesem Caribbean Children’s Literature Ezine founder and editor, Children’s publishing consultant
  • Nancy Drost, Seasoned international educator, Golden Baobab board member
  • Kinna Likimani, Mbaasem Foundation board member, Celebrated book critic (
  • Doreen Baingana, Multiple award-winning Ugandan author, Former chairperson FEMRITE
  • Nonikiwe Mashologu, African children’s literature critic, South African literacy activist
  • Kananengo Diallo, 13-year old Tanzanian winner of the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers
  • Paul O. Zelinsky, International Award-winning American Illustrator and Writer, Caldecott Medalist
  • Akua Peprah, Early Childhood Educator
  • Kofi Kokua Asante Anyimadu, 8-year old Ghanaian book lover

“We are excited about working with our 2014 judges to discover and celebrate some of the best children’s story writers and illustrators in Africa today,” says the Executive Director of Golden Baobab. “In this 6th year of the prizes, we are proud of the contribution we are making to the children’s literature world and are actively searching for exciting partnerships to expand our reach and impact across Africa. We are seeking major corporate partnerships by our next prize season to further propel our vision of making the heads of children across Africa beautiful places for them to live!”

Full details about the judges can be found here:

The winners of the Golden Baobab Prizes will be announced on November 13, 2014

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2014 Shortlist Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature


We are delighted to announce the shortlist for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for African Children's Literature.

The shortlisted writers are:

The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books

  • Portia Dery (Ghana) – Grandma’s List
  • Shaleen Keshavjee-Gulam (Kenya) – Malaika’s Magical Kiosk
  • Mandy Collins (South Africa) – There is a Hyena in my Kitchen
  • Mike Mware (Zimbabwe) – The Big Ball

The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

  • Bontle Senne (South Africa) – The Monster at Midnight
  • Mamle Wolo (Ghana) – Flying through Water
  • Mary Okon Ononokpono (Nigeria) – Talulah the Time Traveller
  • Hillary Molenje Namunyu (Kenya) – Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash
  • Jayne Bauling (South Africa) – The Saturday Dress

No stories from the Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers made it onto this year's shortlist. The winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature as well as the winners and shortlist for the Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrators will be announced on November 13, 2014. A hearty congratulations to all writers who have made it this far!

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The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a documentary produced and directed by Yaba Mangela Badoo, a shortlisted writer for Golden Baobab Prizes in 2012, which celebrates and explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa’s foremost writers and patron of Golden Baobab, Ama Ata Aidoo.

The feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans seven decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.

The documentary was premiered last week at the British council in Accra. Among the audience were Golden Baobab’s Executive Director, Deborah Ahenkorah, Abena Karikari, a participant of the Masterclass jointly organized by Mbaasem Foundation and Golden Baobab as well this year's  longlisted writer for Early Chapter Book Prize, Ricky Ansong.

         b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0003.jpg    b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0004_20140924-163015_1.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG-20140923-WA0000.jpg

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Here are the seven longlisted writers for this year's Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mary-Okon.jpgMary Okon Ononokpono is a British based writer, artist and illustrator. Born in Calabar, Nigeria, Mary moved to the United Kingdom as a baby and has lived there ever since. Mary has a passion for African arts, culture and history. With a background in design and journalism, Mary has been featured in numerous Pan-African publications. Following a brief return to Nigeria in December 2012, Mary turned her hand towards creative writing.

Mary says, “I'm delighted to discover that I've been long-listed for this prestigious award! This is the first story Children's story I've written so it comes as a complete shock. My daughter, who happens to be my inspiration for the story is even more delighted than me.”

Talulah the Time Traveller - Talulah Taiwo is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Talulah is an inventor that happens to be obsessed with coding. She lives with her Mum (an independent architect) and with her trusty sidekick, Karma, an intelligent jet black cat. Talulah's latest app has been entered into the 'Minds of Tomorrow' science fair, but Mum is unable to take her due to a looming deadline and poor organisation skills. Disappointed at the thought of Mum letting her down again, Talulah decides to take matters into her own hands. She creates a shock inducing time management app to help Mum keep to time. However in her haste, she accidentally enters part of the code incorrectly. Upon testing the app, Talulah finds herself suddenly transported to an ancient Egyptian city. The trouble is, the unexpected power surge has drained the battery on her tablet. Aided by Karma, a gang of cats, and a curious Egyptian boy, Talulah sets about finding a solution to her problem. Will they get the tablet to work so that she can get back home in time for the fair?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jayne.jpgJayne Bauling's Young Adult novels have won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Award and the Sanlam Gold Prize for Youth Literature. The most recent, Dreaming of Light, was chosen for the 2014 IBBY Honour List. Her short stories for adults and youth have been published in a number of anthologies. She lives in White River in Mpumalanga, South Africa. 

“As a long-time admirer of Golden Baobab’s commitment to African stories, I’m honoured and thrilled that my story should have made the 2014 long-list for this prestigious award. Congratulations to everyone else on the list and good luck to us all.” Jayne remarked after receiving news she had  been longlisted for the Golden Boabab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

The Saturday Dress - Mavi isn’t too happy about being sent to live with his grandparents in Kabokweni, and discovering that one of his teachers, Ms Mabuza, is their next door neighbour adds to his woes. Things aren’t exactly easy at his new school either, where his only friend seems to be Gcina, but he soon finds himself distracted by a number of mysteries. Matchboxes and money are being hidden in some strange places in his area, and then there’s the child’s dress that hangs on Ms Mabuza’s washing line every Saturday – when there is no child in the house. In trying to solve the matchbox mystery, Mavi makes a mistake which leads to him being misjudged, and he does something terrible in response. How will he ever put things right?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ricky-Dankwa-Ansong.jpgRicky Dankwa Ansong was born in June, 1990 in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana. Ricky developed a love for reading at an early age but he didn’t think he was good enough to write something worth reading. It was only in his second year of high school in Saint Augustine’s College (Cape Coast) that he ventured to write his first novel “Basic Interest” which he never published. In his third year at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, while studying Business Administration, Ricky decided to share his talent with the world.

“I had to take a walk to calm my racing heart. While I did that, I kept repeating the words: God, I thank you.” That was what Ricky did when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes.

Kweku Ananse: The Tale of the Wolf and the Moon - Sakraman, the wolf, is poor and has no friends. He has nothing to harvest from his farm and, thus, suffers the wrath of Kweku Ananse due his inability to pay the cunning spider what he owes him. The Wolf’s bad luck ends when the Moon hears his plea and decides to offer him help. Soon, the Wolf and the Moon become best friends and the wolf becomes very rich. The cunning spider, Kweku Ananse, follows the Wolf around the Kingdom to discover the source of Wolf’s good fortune. When Ananse discovers the truth behind the Wolf’s wealth, his greedy heart hatches a plan to take it all for himself.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Dina.jpgDina Mousa was born in 1984 and grew up in Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from business school majoring in business administration. She started traveling at the age of 24 and moved to South Korea in 2010. She's a wife, animal lover, author, and a traveler.

Dina narrated,  "I was checking my inbox as I do every morning. I saw the email from Golden Baobab, I read it and couldn't believe that I made it to the long list. As I stared at the email my heartbeat got faster and my eyes filled with tears."

The Sunbird and Fatuma - One day a little girl who lives with her loving father in the woods discovers a magical forest. A friendship begins between the little girl, Fatuma, and the Sunbird. When Fatuma finds out the painful truth about her father, how will she protect her friend?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hillary.jpgHillary Namunyu  is a publishing editor in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a reading ambassador with Start-A-Library, an organisation that promotes installation and stocking of libraries with creative books as well as championing reading in primary schools. He occasionally contributes literary commentaries to The Saturday Nation.  

"Wow! Unbelievable! ...I now believe in that saying, that there is a sense of greatness in every person." Hillary exclaimed when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash - Teddy is about 12 years old, lives in Nairobi with his parents and goes to a city council school. Like many children, he has a group of friends from different cultures. Some are mischievous, others terribly honest; Teddy is their consciousness. Amidst the challenges of growing up in the city, the desire to perform well in school and appease his parents whilst keeping the company of his friends, he finds himself in the thick of things when his classmate and best friend Muthoni is caught in a tragedy in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi life

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mamle-Wolo.jpgMamle Wolo is a writer of Ghanaian and German parentage, was born in Ghana and educated in both Ghana and the United Kingdom, graduating from the University of Cambridge. She is currently resident in Ghana and works as a consultant in social development issues. In 2011, she won the Burt Award for African Literature in Ghana with her young adult novel ‘The Kaya-Girl.’ She is a co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana and a mother of two.

 "Great news!" Mamle exclaimed when she received the news of  her story being longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Flying through Water  is the story of a boy who escapes from bonded labour in the fishing industry into a great adventure on the Volta Lake. Inspired by his grandfather’s stories, he has learned that his family’s history is bound up with the creation of the lake and the dam. His own adventure reunites and brings back to life the different strands of this history, including the legend of the mysterious creature of the lake, ‘Maame Water.’ This is a story of adventure and of triumph over adversity that is firmly grounded in both historical and present-day realities of Ghana.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bontle_20140917-123900_1.jpgBontle Senne  is a writer, blogger, speaker and literary activist on the board of two education NGOs: Puku Children's Literature Foundation and READ Educational Trust. She is a minority shareholder of publishing house Modjaji Books. In addition to writing for children, Bontle regularly speaks children's literature at international literary festivals and conferences .She wrote her first story at 6 years old: it was about a brother and a sister rabbit who were naughty and wanted to stay up late.

"I am incredibly honored to be on the Golden Baobab longlist. It is certainly the most exciting moment of my life as a writer." Bontle says.

The Monster at Midnight - Phila is stuck in her grandmother's small village for the school holiday. Between bossy big sister Thando and irritating little brother Musa, she's not having a very good holiday. On top of that, there are strange things going on in the village after dark. Things for Phila only get worse when she discovers that there's a monster after her - and he's coming at midnight.

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Here are the seven longlisted writers for this year's Golden Boabab Prize for Picture Books:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Katherine-Graham_20140915-145150_1.jpgKatherine Graham - A wordsmith by profession, Katherine fills her days writing articles for magazines and looking after her two boys, husband and ginger cat. She started her career as an economics reporter for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and, after a gap year in the UK and a brief interlude as a primary school teacher, has remained in the world of media ever since.

Katherine says, "I am delighted to be selected as one of the finalists for this prestigious competition. It's such a wonderful idea to be focusing more attention on African children's literature. African children need stories that reflect their unique circumstances and celebrate the wealth of beauty on this continent."

The Lemon Tree: A rainy day is the perfect time to make pancakes, or so Gogo thinks, although would you believe there is no flour, eggs or milk left in the house? Lungi and Sipho are sent off to find the missing ingredients, making sure they take some lemons from their tree to distribute to their kind neighbours. A gentle tale with a slight twist at the end which perfectly illustrates the uniquely African concept of ubuntu


b2ap3_thumbnail_Mike_20140915-145334_1.jpgMyke Mwale is a Zimbabwean and member of the Dominican Order, just finished his studies and currently teaching in Kroonstad, South Africa. He is also a contributor to the Weekend Witness, a newspaper based in South Africa.

Myke remarks, “Great stuff! I am flattered to be longlisted amongst the story listeners and tellers of our children’s imagination and reality”.

The Big Ball: It all started one afternoon when Chiedza asked to join in and play soccer with the boys. Girls do not play soccer with boys. However, Chiedza persists and soon she can kick the plastic paper ball just like the boys. A few days later, Tendai’s father buys him a real big ball. Everybody is excited to play soccer with Tendai’s ball. Will Chiedza play this new big ball? Only Tendai, the owner of the ball, can decide this.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mandy_20140915-145429_1.jpgMandy Collins is an award-winning South African journalist who has always had a passion for language, and in particular, the multilingual environment of South Africa. Mandy is involved in many aspects of writing. She also provides individualized writing coaching for children and adults. Mandy lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her family and two slightly demented dogs.

According to Mandy, “I am absolutely thrilled to be longlisted again for a Golden Baobab Prize. I had such fun writing and researching the story, and writing it in verse. I absolutely love the idea of promoting authentically African literature for children, written by Africans from every country, and every walk of life – it’s so important to create a culture of reading in our children.”

There’s a Hyena in my Kitchen: Juma is something of a fussy eater, and when he pushes his plate away one evening, the food uneaten, his mother warns him that he will have to eat the food for breakfast the following day. But in the morning, the food is gone, and they realise they have a hyena in the kitchen. Three times they chase the hyena away, but each time it returns to eat Juma’s leftovers. Juma is starting to get hungry, so he devises ways to trap the hyena. But the hyena is wily and nimble, and it escapes. Finally Juma finds the solution: he eats his dinner, and the hyena slinks off into the night.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Kwame-Aidoo_20140915-145539_1.jpgCharles Kwame Aidoo is the founder and manager Inkfluent; which has over the years collaborated with National Theatre, People of Equal Thoughts and Ehalakasa on several projects and events including poetry, arts and cultural festivals, open mics, flash mobs, slams and workshops in Ghana.

Kwame says. “I am quite new to the art and hereby acknowledge that Golden Baobab’s master-class for writers of children's stories which featured Mamle Wolo has sharpened my quill in this direction. I am happy to be included on the long-list of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes and look to achieve more with my works.”

The Tale of Busy Body Bee: It is a story about two friends - Ant and Bee. There was drought and Ant always worked himself out to produce enough but whenever he brought the harvest home, he would wake up to an empty stock. An advice from the wise Kwaku Ananse led Ant to add a magic pea to the subsequent harvest that got stuck in mischievous Bee’s tail.

b2ap3_thumbnail_shaleen_20140915-145631_1.jpgShaleen Keshavjee-Gulam was born and grew up in Nairobi. Her current occupation is a Property Developer, both commercial and residential. She is the creator and an administrator of "Kilimani Mums", a popular social media support group for Kenyan Mothers.  Shaleen lives in Nairobi with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys writing, especially for children. 

Describing how she felt when she received news she had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes, Shaleen says, "I was absolutely thrilled and incredibly honored."

Malaika's Magical Kiosk: Michelle is not a very happy little girl. Her mother has gone away to take care of her grandmother and left her with her bossy big sister. Everyone in the village is bad tempered because the rains are late and the food crops may die. But then a mysterious stranger arrives and sets up wonderful kiosk. There is a change in the air and incredible things begin to happen.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Portia-Dery_20140915-145717_1.jpgPortia Dery is writer/blogger, a community development worker and social entrepreneur with focus on writing activities in Ghana. Her love for books has dared her to become a writer. She enjoys gardening and meeting people.

“Thank you Jesus, I shouted to my walls. I thought things like this happen to people on magic lands, perhaps I drunk some magic potion.  Very excited to contribute to African children’s literature but the real joy would be when a child picks up my story to read and smile with satisfaction at the end. That would be sheer bliss!” Portia exclaimed when she received news she had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes

Grandma’s List: Everyone has problems but Fatima an eight (8) year girl has the biggest, she is tired of been treated as a child. For a long time now she has been looking for an opportunity to show everyone especially her family that she is smart like any other grownup…and then the day arrives when Fatima has the change to be a superwoman and save the day! She gets the opportunity to run errands for Grandma from grandma’s list of to-do-things and waits eagerly to be praised but things turn out differently and she learns an important lesson.

b2ap3_thumbnail_aleya-2_20140915-145806_1.jpgFrom Kenya is Aleya Kassam. Aleya is a writer, performer and storyteller. She is the co-creator of the Storymoja Publish Your Own Book series (which has published over 300 children); she delights in finding new ways to excite children about writing and exploring stories.

Aleya says, “I am absolutely thrilled to be part of a movement that celebrates African Children's Literature. My hope is that kids around the Continent will have an abundance of incredible, juicy, fantastical, thrilling stories to read, stories that they see themselves in, that speak of their reality, their dreams, their worlds; and that this will drive an insatiable appetite for reading, just for sheer the pleasure of it!”

The Jacaranda Tree is about little Zawadi's quest to make her father smile again, after her mother passes away. The story is about a young girl, grappling with the death of her mother, and calling out to Nature to help bring happiness back in their lives. When Zawadi asks The Jacaranda Tree for a favour, she doesn't realize the consequences may be permanent. 

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