New awards for African Speculative Fiction with four years’ worth of prize money were launched recently. The African Fantasy Reading Group has spearheaded and launched The African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS), a professional and semi-professional organisation of African writers, editors, publishers and artists of Speculative Fiction.
The benefactor of the new awards is businessperson, Tom Ilube, founder and chairman of the African Gifted Foundation, a new African Academy for talented young people.
He was founding chairman of Hammersmith Academy, a secondary school in London, UK that opened in September 2011 and one of the UK’s most innovative new technology schools.
Tom Ilube is chief executive of Crossword Cybersecurity plc, a European stock market quoted technology company. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and in 2005 Tom was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Technology for his contribution to the field of technology in the UK.
The ASFS will nominate and vote for the winners of the new Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction – in four categories with four years’ worth of prize money.
The Nommos are twins from Dogon cosmology who take a variety of forms, including appearing on land as fish, walking on their tails.
The name Nommo, therefore, has come to be accepted by everyone in the Awards committee and has been the basis of design and logo decision. Formally they are known as the Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction.
The formal announcement of the launch of the Awards will take place at the Ake Festival in Nigeria in November 2016. The first award ceremony will then take place the next year at the Ake Festival.
The African Speculative Fiction Society seeks to promote science fiction and fantasy by Africans. Its Charter Members include writers, editors, artists and publishers, who will nominate and vote on the new, multimedia Nommo Awards for African Speculative Fiction.
The Nommo Awards have four years’ worth of prize money in advance thanks to benefactor Tom Ilube.
Says Tom Ilube: “Science fiction is important because it looks ahead to African futures.
“Fantasy and fiction based on traditional tales is important because they link us back to our forebears. Both are important for African development. I wanted to make sure that the explosion of African science fiction gets the recognition it deserves.”
From launch then on, members of the African Speculative Fiction Society will be able to nominate works in four categories: Best novel, best novella, best short story and best graphic novels.
Each year, prize winners will share $3 000 of prize money.
The first prize-giving ceremony is scheduled for November 2017, as part of the Ake Festival but plans are afoot though to alternate the ceremony between West and East Africa.
Chinelo Onwualu, editor and co-founder of Omenana magazine is the lead spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society.
She explains: “The ASFS will provide a place where writers, readers, and scholars can come together to find information, connect with each other, and act as watchdogs for their collective interests.”
The award is pan-African and is open to authors and artists with African citizenship, or who grew up in Africa or who live abroad and have at least one African parent.
There are seven objectives driving the new awards:
Recognition and promotion of excellent works of African speculative fiction;
Encouragement of African creators of speculative fiction;
Promotion of the development of African speculative fiction audiences, publishing and production in Africa, while recognising work that may be published abroad;
Support interest by readers inside and outside Africa in African speculative fiction;
Acknowledgement of work in English and in other languages, including local African languages;
Seeks to do no harm: sponsorship will come from ethical sources; and
Growing and evolving as genres, audiences, media, and distribution change.
“This list cannot cover every case.’ African country’ is defined as any country or contested area on the Continent of Africa, ending at the Egyptian border, and including islands such as Zanzibar and Madagascar,” says a statement by the Society.
Speculative Fiction: includes Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the broadest possible definition of speculative/fantastical fiction including horror, slipstream, interstitial, stories based on traditional beliefs and alternate history, among others.
Speculative Fiction is an inclusive rather than exclusive term designed to include most especially any distinctively African forms that may develop.
Explains the Society: “The award has the right to start small and build, adding categories, activities, events, and communication strategies as it grows.”
There will be awards in four categories, at least during the first phase of development:
Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African (the Ilube Award): $1 000 prize
Best Speculative Fiction Short story by an African: $500 prize
Best Speculative Fiction Novella by an African: $500 prize
Best Speculative Fiction Graphic Novel by Africans: $1 000 to be shared. – Agencies.