Accra, February 24th, 2014 – Golden Baobab has launched the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s literature and illustrations. In this 6th year of the prize, the Ghana based literary social enterprise Golden Baobab and its supporters will be awarding 6 distinct prizes worth $20,000. These 6 prizes are:

  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators
  • The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators
  • The Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award

Marking the 6th anniversary of the Golden Baobab Prizes, its coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong states, “we are excited this year to be presenting 6 prizes. For 5 years we have successfully run 3 prizes for literature. As we enter our 6th year, we are thrilled to be able to transfer the expertise we have gained to illustration in Africa and to recognizing lifetime contributors to African children’s literature. The new prizes we are launching this year are: the Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators, The Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators and the Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award.”

2014 Golden Baobab Prize winners will receive cash prizes worth $20,000, opportunities to be published, invitations to the Golden Baobab Award ceremony, mentorship, press opportunities and participation in exhibitions.

Commenting on the launch of the 2014 Prizes, Deborah Ahenkorah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Golden Baobab said, “I’m thrilled that as we mark the 6th anniversary of the prizes, we are doing more than we ever have to champion the work of African writers and illustrators of children’s stories. For example, we have increased cash prizes from an annual $3000 to an annual $20,000. This increase reflects the value we place on the work created by incredibly talented writers and illustrators of African children’s stories. This is only the beginning of our aspirations for this space.”

2014 will see Golden Baobab launch an active search for corporate and foundation partnerships to continue to do more for African children’s literature. For information about the Golden Baobab prizes, visit Golden Baobab’s website. The Golden Baobab Prizes are supported by the African Library Project.

We encourage you to share this post with anyone you know who might be interested in participating in any of the above prizes. For further information, please contact Nanama B. Acheampong at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


  • To view and share our 2014  Promotional Poster for The Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature, please click here
  • To view and share our 2014  Promotional Poster for The Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrations, please click here




Hits: 6008

Posted by on in News

Our Golden Baobab Prizes coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong, had the pleasure of attending the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria. She shares her experiences in this new blogpost!

The Ake Arts and Book Festival, if you haven’t already heard, was a tremendous success. It took place in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, from 19-24 November, 2013 and was organized by writer and women's rights activist, Lola Shoneyin. The theme of the festival was 'Shadow of Memory.'

When at work we decided it would be a great idea for Golden Baobab to be at the festival, I did a little dance in my head. I had been stalking the Ake Festival website for a while and was intrigued by all the activities that promised to be memorable. I wanted to attend for this reason and for some others:

  1. I had never been to Nigeria and so badly wanted to go before the end of 2013
  2. I wanted to meet and speak with many of the writers who were listed on the Ake website
  3. The adventure junkie in me wanted to ride an Okada
  4. I wanted to try Nigerian food

I arrived at the Murtala Muhammed Airport on Thursday 21 and found my way to my hotel in Abeokuta. On arrival, I freshened up and immediately headed to the June 12 Cultural Centre which was the venue for the festival. At the lounge area, lunch was almost over and so I quickly grabbed myself a bowl of jollof and spicy chicken (I was told it was the last one left, lucky me!) from the lovely caterer whose accent sounded like a mixture of British and Nigerian. I then looked around for a place to sit and decided on a chair beside a corn-rowed woman who was busily poking away at her iPad. Through conversation, I found out she was Doreen Baingana, Ugandan writer and winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize for “Tropical Fish.” I bought a copy and got it signed by her. It was a good start to my Ake Festival experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my four days at the festival. The following were my highlights:

Meeting writers, who I had previously only read or read about:  I bumped into Muthoni Garland, who was a 2010 judge for the Golden Baobab Prizes, Tope Folarin who is the 2013 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Syl Cheney-Coker whose poetry I have seen in countless places and whose new book, Sacred River, I am eagerly waiting for. I met Sitawa Namwalie, who gave a splendid performance with Muthoni during the cocktail event, Binyavanga Wainaina, who had green hair to go with his green African print shirt and Lisa Teasley, who had such warm words, a ready smile and enviable locks.

The numerous book chats and the art exhibition: Teju Cole described scenes in Open City so well that it made me wish I had already read the book, Chibundu Onuzo touched on her story, The Spider King’s Daughter and made me debate with myself whether it’s really possible for two very different worlds to come together, Marlon James read excerpts from his novel, The Book of Night Women, in Patois, the language it was written in, which fascinated me and made me want to hear more of it. I also met Temitope Olorunfunmi, who was longlisted for this year’s Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books and looked at beautiful paintings at the art exhibition.

The stage adaptation of Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives: The show started quite late and I was hungry but two minutes the first song and my hunger was all but forgotten. This play, which was adapted by Rotimi Babatunde, 2012 Caine Prize winner, was such a spectacle. It had enough music, dance, humour and drama in it to keep you completely entertained.

An audience with Wole Soyinka: At this special event, four under 21’s were given the chance to ask Wole Soyinka any question they wanted to. It was such a marvel to hear the professor talk about his hair regimen, something you probably wouldn’t hear anywhere else! After this, he sat down for a book signing. I was with a friend and we both wanted his autograph but didn’t have any of his books with us. We quickly ran up to the book fair that was taking place in the main auditorium and bought “Climate of Fea.r”  We took it back down to be signed, only to realize that Wole Soyinka had gotten in his car and was being driven off. We couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves!

The barbeque: I have two left feet that have made it quite impossible to keep to rhythm but during the barbeque on the evening of Saturday 23, I couldn’t help but join the dancing crowd that had gathered under the white tents behind the cultural centre. There was great food and drinks and a live band that played some catchy tunes. This was my last night in Nigeria and at the Ake Festival and I must say, it was a great way to spend it!

At the end of the Ake Festival, I had met so many wonderful writers, artists and book enthusiasts, I had bought a number of books to add to my Christmas reading list, I had gobbled mouthfuls of delicious Nigerian food, I had danced and I had been on one or two Okada rides. What more could I have asked for?

For more photos from The Ake Festival, visit our Facebook page

Hits: 3581

"Gloria Steinem said “Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” Entering this competition and WINNING it encourages me to keep dreaming of the possibility of reaching children through the magic of books and the excitement of writing. What a dream come true to be able to contribute to the wonders of the imagination in such a way" - Liza Esterhuyse, 2013 Winner of the Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books.

Liza Esterhuyse is a qualified occupational therapist with a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Intervention. Things you should know about Liza: She is a daydreamer, a book junkie, a red wine drinker, a world lover, a tree hugger, a dog enthusiast, a horse admirer and a Capetonian.

Due to her passion for the children of South Africa and the vast need in her country, Liza and a friend started a non-profit organization in 2010, called The Kula Foundation, with the aim to support vulnerable children growing up in adverse conditions. She is currently working for another non-profit organisation called Cape Mental Health where she is the coordinator of three special education and care centres in three different townships in the Western-Cape.

Find out a little more about Liza in this interview we had with her!

When you were young did you like to read?

Yes I loved reading books as a child, I still do! And even before I could read my, parents used to read to us every night before bedtime.

If you could bring one thing into the world, what would it be and why?

Laughter -laughter knows no boundaries, no politics, no race, no religion. For a moment you forget and forgive and you see life as it should be- beautiful.

What music do you listen to and who are your favourite bands or artists?

I listen to a diverse genre of music, but the CD’s you’ll currently find in my car include: The National; Muse; Florence and the Machine and Shortstraw. I am a huge 80’s fan and will not hesitate to bust a move on any one of that era’s greatest hits.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned about life so far?

To pick your battles, dream big and to follow your curiosity and intuition

What inspired you to write The Little Hippo?

I was on a Safari with my family in the Serengeti and saw a teenage hippo (according to our guide) grazing under an umbrella thorn tree in the midday sun. The sight intrigued me as it’s very unusual for a hippo to be out of the water during the day. So I started wondering why?  

What other writers inspire you and in what ways?

This is such a difficult question to answer. When I think of five of my most beloved books, the authors and the stories are all so different, but I think CS Lewis and his endless imagination inspired me to keep dreaming and to become part of the story which you are trying to tell.

When did you write your winning story?

The Little Hippo was born in April 2011, but I only started writing the story, 16 months later in August 2012.

What are you most passionate about now?

I’m passionate about horse riding (I wish I could do it every day); saving our beautiful planet, drinking coffee and the people I love.

What is your dream for African children’s literature?

I hope it grows and becomes strong, so that it can climb over all the obstacles Africa throws at it and reach each and every little inquisitive mind out there.

We hope for the same things Liza. Thanks for the interview!






Hits: 4359

"Nestling against my mother for a bedtime story under the veil of a mosquito net was a magical time. The best stories were told when my sister and I pleaded for our mum to tell us a story from her head" - Karen Hurt, 2013 Winner of the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books.

Karen Hurt is a South Africa based independent writer, editor, materials developer and writing workshop facilitator. She is also the winner of the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books for her story,What’s Going on at 179 Jabulani Street

Apart from addressing current topics in a way that children will find engaging, Karen has learnt to shed her protector role and free her young protagonists when she is writing fiction. Esi Sutherland-Addy, professor at the University of Ghana African Studies Department and 2013 judge commented on Karen's story, “The protagonists of this gripping adventure story are depicted as true children; up to pranks and trying to outwit grownups.” 

We had a nice little chat with Karen and she told us about some of her favourite books. Read the interview below to find out what they are!

Describe your childhood. What were you like, what was your family like, and what did you like to do?

My parents encouraged natural curiosity and for us, their daughters, to take an interest in current affairs; and to see the world as our classroom. I never once heard them tell me that there was something I couldn’t do because I was a girl. They did not doubt the imaginary horses I galloped around on nor my imaginary friends. My mother crawled into the tent-style houses we made out of sheets pegged onto chairs set on a carpet that floated on rivers, and she pretended to drink the muddy-water tea we concocted.

 Playing with marbles and cars, setting up a classroom for my dolls and making them tiny school books (I have no recollection what I taught, if anything), climbing the huge tree in our garden and observing the world below,putting on spontaneous shows, and playing with friends were amongst my favourite things to do.

My parents were avid readers and through them I developed a taste for reading. These values; and childhood experiences growing up in Zambia (where I was born), the UK, and South Africa shaped my formative years.

On what I was like, I just called my 82-year-old mother. She said I was, ‘never in trouble and easy-going.’ I guess I live out the life of getting up to mischief through the characters in my stories.

 When you were young did you like to read?

I loved reading on my own, and listening to stories that my parents or teachers read aloud. The family reading tradition continued when I had children – we’d gather together mostly in the evening or when on holiday for story times. We read the Harry Potter series, Eva Ibbotson’s wonderful Journey to the River Sea, and Mike Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this way. Even today, in conversation, we refer to those books we traversed together.

Actually, I still love being read to – a story, a newspaper article, something my children have written for school or university.

What types of books did you read? What was your favorite book as a child?

I read mostly detective, mystery and adventure stories. Enid Blyton’s adventure/fantasy The Magic Faraway Tree was a favourite. And the very sad Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams. After many tearful chapters, at least it had a happy ending. I believe this book has recently been republished.

How did you come to start writing?

As a child I wrote little stories and letters to family from the time I learnt how to write. Whenever my family travelled, diary writing was part of the journey. I still have some of the entries.

What other writers inspire you and in what ways?

I’ve been inspired and moved by so many writers both in fiction and narrative nonfiction. Most recently, however, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being – shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize – has caused me to think about time, and being, in a new way. It’s a breath-taking multidimensional story with a fascinating teenage protagonist. The story has lingered and I hope it will motivate me to be more experimental and perhaps more daring in how and what I write in future. NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel We Need New Names – shortlisted for the same prize – inspires me to want to craft harder and more creatively at dialogue, description and the creation and sustaining of vivid children characters and their voices.

I get much food for thought from reading or listening to/watching interviews with authors. Philip Pullman comes to mind here, as does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, especially her TED talk The Danger of a Single Story.  

What does winning the Golden Baobab Prize mean for you?

It means the world to me. Being told the news still feels unreal. When I think about it, my heart does a quick cartwheel. I hope it will mean networking and possibly collaborating in some way with authors who share the Golden Baobab’s passion, mission and goals. And to have the story published would be absolutely fabulous!

What inspired you to write What’s Going on at 179 Jabulani Street? 

I tend to start with place, a faint scent of a theme or plot, and then characters. With What’s going on at 179 Jabulani Street? I wanted to set a story on the side of Johannesburg where I live, beneath the gaze of two tall buildings that dominate our skyline day and night in a compass-like way. Ponte Tower is a 54-storey donut-style apartment building which has a red crown at night, and the Hillbrow Tower’s top shines blue. Most of the story takes place nearby in Yeoville, where Sophie, one of the two protagonists, lives.

There have been regular ads on the radio and TV saying we all need to do something about stopping rhino poaching and many news stories about how many rhino have been killed; and debates around how to stop the poaching and decrease demand for rhino horn powder. How do children whose concerns are more survivalist relate to these rhino stories and being urged to do something?

I decided to explore this through the story. The research was fascinating and in some cases visually violent. I found out about poaching and smuggling techniques and routes. On the internet I came across an interview with a cleaner in one of the big game reserves about the impact of poaching on her life. This gave me some insight that I was looking for.

What inspires you as a writer?

  • Places.
  • Authors whose writing is of a quality that takes my breath away. It makes me want to learn more about the craft of writing.
  • Quirky things when walking or driving around my district and the city – or anywhere. Story ideas pop up this way but many fizzle out. One image that has remained with me is watching a grown man running down the street at high speed pushing a pink toy pram. Why? It seemed to me there were so many possibilities. I still want to get to that story.
  • When, after drafts and drafts, the story begins to coalesce and there’s that feeling that it’s going to work.

What is your dream for African children’s literature?

We need a deliciously wide range of genres written by African writers, set in African contexts with characters that African children will be excited by and identify with. I think it is overdue that children all over the world had the opportunity to read stories like these.

What legacy would you as an African children’s writer want to leave in improving the reading and writing culture in Africa?

It feels presumptuous to talk about leaving a legacy. But I am passionate about promoting a love for reading and creative writing. I think campaigns to encourage reading and telling stories in families is one way to do this. Aside from enjoyment, it can also help children and parents/guardians open up discussions on topics that are sensitive and often avoided.

 I’m a big fan of promoting journal writing from a young age and encouraging writing as an enjoyable activity that helps children become confident at it, just like practicing a sport does. Journal writing can help children express themselves, and for them to find their own authentic voice when it comes to writing for school and pleasure.

 Children’s enthusiasm for writing can easily be squelched by teachers’ red ink corrections and focus on grammar and spelling. It would be great if we could spend more time in classrooms making space and time for children’s imagination to evolve, to write drafts and get feedback from peers and the teacher, and for editing to be done as the final part of the writing process.

Thanks for speaking with us, Karen. We've enjoyed our chat!


Hits: 4851

“Why do I write? I write to inspire other people and to create my own characters and bring them to life.” – Kanengo Rebecca Diallo, Winner of the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers.

Kanengo Rebecca Diallo is an incredible twelve year old writer  who lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with her parents and two siblings. She is a seventh grade student at the International School of Tanganyika (IST). Her story, Pieces of Africa, is about four children with diverse backgrounds who come from different parts of Africa. They have been chosen to find all the magical puzzle pieces scattered around Africa in order to save the world. 

We had the opportunity to chat with Kanengo and find out how she developed her passion for writing at such a young age. Read our interview with her below!

What is the first thing you remember writing and how old were you?

I wrote a story about how lying had consequences when I was ten years old. That is the story I remember vividly. I started writing stories when I was as young as seven.

 At what age did you realize you wanted to write?

I realized writing was what I wanted to do for a long time when I was in fourth grade. I was about the only person in my class who would write pages and pages of stories when our teacher handed out writing assignments. Not only did I like writing the stories, I would admire them when the teacher put them up on the wall. The best compliments I treasured were the ones people would give me about my stories. I didn’t realize I liked writing so much until the day my teacher read out one of my stories to the class and every one said I should become an author.

 How did you find out about the Golden Baobab Prizes and why did you decide to enter?

I found out about Golden Baobab when I was in the sixth grade. An announcement about the competition was posted on the school bulletin board. I was actually late to school that day and my friends told me I should enter a story. I thank a lot of people for encouraging me to enter the competition. I also decided to enter because I wanted to finally get a chance to fulfill my dream of becoming an author. Now I'm one step closer to that dream! 

 What does winning the Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers mean for you?

It is the greatest honor to be Golden Baobab’s winner for the 2013 Rising Writer’s award. I will never forget this day. Winning the competition means a lot to me! Having had my story read and evaluated by so many incredible people is a huge plus. I am also very excited to be one of the judges on the panel for the 2014 Golden Baobab writing competition.

 What inspired you to write Pieces of Africa?

I was inspired by a previous story that I had started to write in fifth grade. It was about the four seasons instead of the four elements of earth. I thought this would relate more to African children. The stories had very different characters and settings but the central idea was common to both stories. One day I hope to turn the story I wrote in fifth grade into one of my series.

 What is the most important thing you’ve learned about life so far?

Life is a gift from God. It is very valuable because it is short and we should use that time to do great things that will leave a mark on this planet and in people’s lives.

 What is your favourite local meal?

 I have so many! I quite like chapatti and choroko (green grams). I usually like eating it on a cold day to warm my belly.

 What is the last book you read and liked and why did you like it?

The last book that I read and liked a lot was the Winnie Years series. I liked it a lot because it was told in a child’s perspective and it talked about the challenges of growing up. Another reason I liked the book was because I could relate to the main character when she was twelve years old as I am also twelve years old.

 What are your writing ambitions for the future?

 I will write the second book of the Pieces of Africa series and hopefully get it published. After that, I am hoping to start a new series and draw comics too. I think I will write five books in all for the Pieces of Africa series.

Thanks for chatting with us, Kanengo. We know you will go on to write amazing African children's stories!






Hits: 4885