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Nigerian author Akwaeke Emezi

The NOMMO Awards Long List Spotlights The Best Of African Speculative Fiction

African authors Lauren Beukes, Abie Daré, Ewaeke Emezi, Ben Okri and more have made the 2021 Nommo Awards Long List.

African literature has, once again, been thrust centre stage with the exciting release of the Nommo Awards Nomination Long List, which prizes the African Speculative Fiction genre. The long list is a thrilling step ahead of the upcoming Nommo Awards this year. Nigerian writers lead with nominations across the four categories — "Best Novel", "Best Novella", "Best Short Story" and "Best Graphic Novel". All eyes will be on the highly coveted "Best Novel" category, comprised of 15 of the best African Speculative fiction works published between January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020.

South African novelist Lauren Beukes made the "Best Novel" long list for UnGirls. While New York Times best seller Abi Daré, has been selected for her brave and wondrous debut novel The Girl With The Louding Voice, written in Nigerian pidgin English. Prolific Kenyan writer and critical thinkerNgũgĩ wa Thiong'o has also been long-listed for his latest body of work The Perfect Nine, written in his native Gikuyu. Remarkable writer Ben Okri's Freedom Artist is also in the running. The Death of Vivek Oji, a spiritually and psychologically-charged piece of literary art,is another firm contender from Akwaeke Emezi. Emezi was at the receiving end of the 2021 Women's Prize controversy because of their non-gender conforming identity.

The Nommo Long List has duly recognised queer voices for the visually encapsulating comic book Meanwhile..., which grabbed a comfortable spot in the "Best Graphic Novel" category. Meanwhile... features collective stories of queer experiences from across the African continent. The graphic novel was created in conjunction with Quinto Collab (various writers & artists), MaThoko's Books, an imprint of South Africa's Gay and Lesbian memory in Action (GALA) Queer Archive. Zambian-based comic house Black House Comics, on the other hand, dominated the long list with three of its featured writer-artists — a great feat for the Africa's graphic novel field.

Short stories have always been popular within African literature, and the long list has the most nominees with just over 50 authors. Zimbabwean writer Shanice Ndlovu, published her 2020 novel The Pride of Noonlay through South African publishing house Modjaji Books, and has instead been nominated for her short story "A Water Heart". The 2020 Nommo "Best Novel" shortlist featured young South African author Masande Ntshanga for Triangulum. The "Best Novel" prize subsequently went to Nigerian Sci-fi writer Suyo Davies Okungbowa'sDavid Mojo, Godhunter.

Read: Interview: Masande Ntshanga Ponders What it Means to be a Native in Past and Future Millenia

The literary award is named after the Nommo mythological amphibious creature which has its origins in Mali and offers a cosmological perspective on mastery. The shortlist will be announced at the end of May, and voting will commence shortly afterwards.

Here is the full list of all the nominees in all four Nommo long lists.


  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
  • Freedom Artist by Ben Okri
  • King of the Hollow Dark by Cat Hellisen
  • Claiming T-Mo by Eugen Bacon
  • The Down Days by Ilze Hugo
  • The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  • Afterland by Lauren Beukes
  • The Perfect Nine by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
  • Water Must Fall by Nick Wood
  • Club Ded by Nikhil Singh
  • Soul Searching by Stephen Embleton
  • The Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson
  • Rebel Sisters by Tochi Onyebuchi
  • A Trial of Sparks and Kindling by Yolande Horak


  • Ferryman by Caldon Mull
  • Convergence in Chorus Architecture by Dare Segun Falowo
  • A Fledgling Abiba by Dilman Dila
  • Ife-Ikyoku: The Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald
  • Ivory's Story by Eugen Bacon
  • Ungirls by Lauren Beukes
  • The Satellite Charmer by Mame Bougouma Diene
  • The Kigango Oracle by Moraa Gitaa
  • The Silence of the Wilting Skin by Tlotlo Tsamaase
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi


  • "The Not-So-Secret Lives of Nigerian Politicians" by Adelehin Ijasan
  • "That Which Smells Bad" by Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga
  • "The Game" by Alvin Kathembe
  • "What the Dead Man Said" by Chinelo Onwualu
  • "A Love Song for Herkinal as composed by Ashkernas amid the ruins of New Haven" by Chinelo Onwualu
  • "The Chronical of Anaoma" by Chinwe Marycynthia Okafor
  • "Space Bakide Ride" by Colin Cloud Dance
  • "Ngozi Ugegbe Nwa" by Dare Segun Falowo
  • "Fort Kwame" by Derek Lubangakene
  • "The Cult of Reminiscence" by Derek Lubangakene
  • "Red_Bati" by Dilman Dila
  • "Yat Madit" by Dilman Dila
  • "A Visit in Whitechapel" by Eugen Bacon
  • "The One Who Sees" by Eugen Bacon
  • "The Road to Woop Woop" by Eugen Bacon
  • "Still She Visits" by Eugen Bacon
  • "Rat and Finch are Friends" by Innocent Chizaram Ilo
  • "The Red Earth" by John Barigye
  • "Lekki Lekki" by Mame Bougouma Diene
  • "Do Androids Dream of Capitalism and Slavery" by Mandisi Nkomo
  • "Rainmaker" by Mazi Nwonwu
  • "A Curse at Midnight" by Moustapha Mbacké Diop
  • "Things Boys Do" by 'Pemi Aguda
  • "Manifest" by 'Pemi Aguda
  • "Clanfall: Death of Kings" by Odida Nyabundi
  • "The Mannequin Challenge" by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
  • "Blueland" by Olamide Olanrewaju
  • "Ibrahim and the Green Fishing Net"by Omar William Sow
  • "To Look Forward" by Osahon Ize-Iyamu
  • "Where the Rain Mothers Are" by Rafeeat Aliyu
  • "The Daemon King of England" by Rafeeat Aliyu
  • "Fruit of the Calabash" by Rafeeat Aliyu
  • "Blood is Another Word for Hunger" by Rivers Solomon
  • "Fairy Tales for Robots" by Sofia Samatar
  • "Where You Go" by Somto O. Ihezue
  • "Orlanda" by Tade Thompson
  • "The Cure" by Tariro Ndoro
  • "Egoli" by T L Huchu
  • "Corialis" by T L Huchu
  • "The Bend of Water" by Tiah Marie Beautement
  • "Thoughtbox" by Tlotlo Tsamaase
  • "River of Night" by Tlotlo Tsamaase
  • "Behind Our Irises" by Tlotlo Tsamaase
  • "Drummer Boy in a World" by Tobi Ogundiran
  • "Guardian of the Gods" by Tobi Ogundiran
  • "The Goatkeeper's Harvest" by Tobi Ogundiran
  • "A Water Heart" by Shanice Ndlovu
  • "And This is How to Say" by Shingai Njeri Kagunda
  • "Tends to Zero" by Wole Talabi
  • "Red Cloth White Giraffe" by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu
  • "The Wonder of Spirits" by Yvonne Nezianya


  • Alex by Anna Mbale (writer) and Mwiche Songolo (artist) – Black Hut Comics
  • Black Sheep by Mwiche Songolo (writer & artist) – Black Hut Comics
  • Meanwhile… by Quinto Collab (various writers & artists), MaThoko's Books, an imprint of GALA Queer Archive
  • Moongirls by Nana Akosua Hanson (writer) AnimaxFYB Studios (art) – Ghana Drama Queens Collective
  • New Men by Murewa Ayodele (writer) and Dotun Akande (artist) – Collectible Comics.
  • Titan by Mazuba Chimbeza (writer & artist) – Black Hut Comics
Photo: Odartey Aryee

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From Nigerian thrillers to South African documentaries, here are 10 African films we are looking forward to in 2022.

The glitzy and glamorous Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) recently returned for its 43rd edition. The eight day festival, which took place in Durban (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa), featured an embarrassment of riches on the program, from around the world. The festival is a good indicator of what we can expect from African cinema for the rest of 2022.

The 10 films on this list were all screened at the festival. These films managed to stand out for reasons that have been explained below. (One of those films, Robin Odongo's Bangarang from Kenya, won the Best African Feature Film award at DIFF.)

Do not miss these movies when they come to a theater or streaming platform near you.

1960 (South Africa)

This pleasant, King Shaft directed period musical centers a heroine who may have been inspired by the life of the late South African icon Miriam Makeba. 1960 opened the Durban festival this year and set the tone for what would come after. Lindi (played by both Zandile Madliwa and Ivy Nkutha) is a singer who in her twilight days digs back into her past to shed light on the murder of an apartheid-era police officer when his remains turn up in Sharpeville some six decades after the infamous massacre of 1960.

African Moot (South Africa​)

There are plenty reasons to be hopeful for the future of the continent. According to Shameela Seedat’s African Moot, the educated youth are leading the way. This fly-on-the-wall documentary follows a group of bright law students who are participating in the annual African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. Seedat, a human rights law specialist turned filmmaker, heads to the University of Botswana with her subjects. Her film details the interesting ways the students approach the fictional case of a people crossing fictional African borders to escape oppression.

​Bangarang (Kenya)

Inspired by true events, Robin Odongo’s chaotic feature expounds on an earlier short film. Bangarang’s protagonist, Otile (David Weda) is a graduate of engineering who has failed to secure decent employment a decade after university. He makes a meagre living as a bike rider instead. When election violence erupts after the disputed Kenyan presidential elections of 2007, an embittered Otile leads rioters on the streets of Kisumu. Before long, he is on the run from the law, accused of murder.

Collision Course (Nigeria)

A frustrated young man collides with the brutal power of the police force. Can a tormented official stop the descent into carnage? The third feature length title from Nigerian director Bolanle Austen-Peters (The Bling Lagosians, The Man of God) is a propulsive thriller set over the course of 24-hours. Starring Daniel Etim Effiong and Kelechi Udegbe, Collision Course digs into the underbelly of urban crime, law enforcement gone rogue, and the desperate victims that suffer the consequences.

The Crossing (La Traversee) (Burkina Faso)

After years in Italy, Djibi returns to his native Burkina Faso and begins to mentor a group of young people whose sole purpose is to leave for Europe. Djibi prepares them for this crossing through a tasking physical and intellectual program that helps bring them personal achievement and may end up neutering their resolve to migrate. Can he make this difference? Irène Tassembédo’s social drama embraces the complicated nature of the immigration experience.

Lesotho, the Weeping Motherland (South Africa)

Told interchangeably between South Africa and Lesotho, this Lwazi Duma-directed documentary engages with the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, a key income earner in the region. Duma follows Khethisa Mabata as he attempts to revive his father’s farm. The film uses Mabata’s personal story as an entry point into the larger national crisis that has taken Lesotho from a thriving food basket to one suffering extreme drought.

Skeletons (South Africa)

Conceived as an experiment in theatre-making during the COVID-19 lockdowns, this magical realist expression was re-written for film and now sits somewhere as a hybrid between theatre and film. Set in the heart of the Maluti mountains, Skeletons grapples with the issue of land and ownership as told through the lives of four characters. In an environment of scarcity, these four people wrestle to break free from the vicious cycle of oppression. Skeletons confronts notions of home, belonging, and identity.

Streams (Tunisia)

Amel, a married Tunis factory worker is imprisoned on charges of adultery and prostitution following an assault. Upon release, she attempts to put back the pieces of her life and reconnect with her teenage son whose life was derailed by the scandal. Director Mehdi Hmili comments on the decay, contradictions, and hypocrisies of contemporary Tunisian society with this engaging drama about the breakdown of a working-class family and the state’s unwillingness to protect the vulnerable.

Taamaden (Cameroon)

In Taamaden, Mali-born filmmaker Seydou Cissé paints a uniquely intimate portrait of immigration and zeroes in on spirituality. Taamaden, which is the Bambara word for traveler or adventurer, presents two different points of view. The first is that of Bakary, a young Malian preparing for yet another attempt at crossing over to Europe. The other is a motley crew of West African immigrants struggling to survive in Spain. They are united by their ties to their spiritual clairvoyant.

You’re My Favorite Place (South Africa)

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (Of Good Report, Knuckle City) is one of the most exciting and original cinematic voices on the continent. His latest, which closed the Durban film festival, is a change of pace attempt that also carries some of Qubeka’s slick imprint. On the last day of high school, the young heroine of You’re My Favorite Place and her three friends embark on an unforgettable road trip. They steal a car and head to the remote Hole in the Wall, a landmark that according to Xhosa legend, enables communication with the dead.

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