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Three Nigerians on Brunel African Poetry Prize 2021 shortlist

THE shortlist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2021 was announced today March 31.

Three Nigerians —  Oluwadare Popoola; Yomi Sode  and Othuke Umukoro  are on the list. 

A fourth person with an obvious Nigerian second name but from Gambia is , Kweku Abimbola.

Others on the shortlist are: Arao Ameny (Uganda); Isabelle Baafi (South Africa) and Asmaa Jama (Somalia).

Worth £3,000, the prize was started in 2012 to revitalise African poetry and encourage a new generation of poets to get an international platform,  was founded by Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, who is also Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, UK. 

Previous winners have been Warsan Shire (2013), Liyou Libsekal (2014), Safia Elhillo and Nick Makoha (2015), Gbenga Adesina and Chekwube O. Danladi (2016), Romeo Oriogun (2017), Momtaza Mehri, Theresa Lola, and Hiwot Adilow (2018), Nadra Mabrouk and Jamila Osman (2019), and Rabha Ashry (2020).

For 2021, the judging panel chaired by Karen McCarthy Woolf includes Rustum Kozain (South Africa) and Makhosazana Xaba (South Africa). 

The jury chair, Woolf said: “This year’s shortlist includes an exciting array of new and emerging voices from across the continent and diaspora, from South Africa and Lesotho, to Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and Uganda. 

“Thematically, the poems have shared and diverse concerns, from Yomi Sodé’s memorial to Damilola Taylor to Nathan Kweku John’s meditation on Ashanti naming traditions that also commemorates victims of police brutality. Running throughout these portfolios, there was a sense of urgency and a spirit of witness leavened by a capacity to address complex scenarios amongst the political wreckage that has characterised this specific moment in the early 21st century.

The winner of the award will be announced on May 11, 2021.

This full shortlist as announced by the jury  are:

  • Kweku Abimbola (Gambia)
  • Arao Ameny (Uganda)
  • Isabelle Baafi (South Africa)
  • Asmaa Jama (Somalia)
  • Tumello Motabola (Lesotho)
  • Oluwadare Popoola (Nigeria)
  • Yomi Sode (Nigeria)
  • Othuke Umukoro (Nigeria)

Originally titled, “Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2021 shortlist announced”, it was first published at

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