On 16th November 2023, Writers Guild-Kenya, Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) and Yours2read (UK), through a combined collaboration, organized an award ceremony to award winners of the Yours2read Short Story Competition 2023 at Alliance Française, Nairobi. This year’s competition was themed: “Stories over tea”.
Now in its third year, the competition aims to provide writers with a platform to share their genuine African narratives, propelling them to a global audience. It is a collaborative effort between Writers Guild-Kenya and Yours2read.
This year’s theme focus was to allow writers to explore their imagination and write stories with a tea element in them, meeting the focus of the sponsor’s business.
Sponsored by KTDA, the competition featured 67 writers vying for cash prizes.
The competition took place on two levels. The writers were invited to submit their stories through the Yours2read platform. The readers then read and download the stories. Yours2read awarded $100 to the writers with the highest downloads. Winners in this category were Oyamo Richard (1st Prize), Valentine Mokua (2nd Prize) and Gloria Juma (3rd Prize). Dr. Simon Norton, the founder of Yours2read(London), in a speech read by Gabriel Dinda, noted that the submissions received exhibited high quality of writing from Kenya and committed to work with other partners to create opportunities abroad.
The second part of the award involved a professional judging process. The judges were from KTDA, Writers Guild-Kenya and Yours2read, with each entry independently evaluated by three judges, with no consideration given to the judgments made by the other judges. The judges judged the stories on five criteria: grammar, character development, strength of conclusion, pace, and context, awarding marks between 1 and 7.
The resulting winners were: Davis Tamba, 91%, for Pamplona (the winner), 1st Runners Up, Anene Anne, 85%, for Freed, and Nicholas Mokua for The World Fell Silent, Abu Gee for Meeting the Parents, and Cynthia Dadia for Fast Talker as 2nd Runners Up, tying at 84%.
The winner was awarded Ksh.30,000, with the 1st Runner’s Up, Ksh. 20,000 and 2nd Runner’s Up, Ksh. 10,000. Each winner received a special tea package from KTDA. “ It has always been our wish to engage the private sector to improve the writing and reading culture in Kenya. Partnering with KTDA is a step to realize this. We look forward to more collaborations with other partners to give writers their rightful place in history.” Gabriel Dinda, Executive Director of Writers Guild-Kenya noted.
In awarding the winners, the CEO and Chief Guest, Mr. Wilson Muthaura, described the competition as a “step towards growing the reading culture in Kenya and increasing the love for impactful stories that are part of our heritage, like the story of tea.” Other staff members of KTDA present were, Mr. Simeon Rugutt(Group Finance and Strategy Director) and Mr. Tom Mwiraria( Office of the Group CEO)
The partners in this competition will be working to conceptualize “Stories over tea”, scaling it up to spread the joy of tea stories to all the tea-growing areas in Kenya, apart from exploring the possibilities of publishing this year’s entries into an anthology.