New aKoma Media Prize rewards writing on Africa and diaspora

Departmental alumna Zain Verjee has funded the aKoma Media Prize, to benefit first year students on our Master’s in Creative Writing programme.

The Prize aims to encourage creative writing about Africa, to increase understanding of modern day Africa, and to expand the current narrative of the continent. 

Kenyan-born Zain Verjee is a journalist, and former anchor of CNN International's European daytime program "World One". She left CNN in 2014 to create her own media production company, the Zain Verjee Group, based in New York and Nairobi , with a focus on African businesses and lifestyle stories.

In the summer of 2016 Zain launched aKoma Media, an Africa-focused content and storytelling platform showcasing user-generated content. A scant two months after launch, the site has over 800 users.

The word ‘aKoma’ comes from a Ghanaian symbol meaning ‘heart’.

“Today Africa is often understood and narrated as a single story, focusing on poverty, disease, drought, war,” said Zain. “aKoma Media, the sponsors of the prize, are working to demonstrate that there are much richer stories to be told about Africa.” 

When the the first aKoma Prize will be awarded is still to be announced – but it is known that judges will be looking for work from first year Master’s students that is Africa-focused, whether that is understood as the continent itself or the African diaspora. Writers do not need to have visited Africa: in other words, the writing should range beyond the physical continent. Most importantly, the prize will reward writing that contributes to, or opens conversations about Africa.

The aKoma Media Prize:

  • Date of first award: TBA
  • Prize money: £500
  • The writing can be in any genre 
  • The prize will be open to first year students on the Oxford University Master's in Creative Writing
  • There is no restriction on length with regard to submissions.
  • The winning work will be showcased on Akoma Media
  • aKoma Media will assemble a panel of three judges.

For more information:

Published 13 October 2016