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Title: Kwani?  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Billy Kahora, Literary magazines, Sheng slang, Chimurenga (magazine), Poetry in Africa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Kwani? (Sheng for so what?) is a leading African literary magazine based in Kenya[1][2] that has been called "undoubtedly the most influential journal to have emerged from sub-Saharan Africa", although that tribute might more accurately go to Transition Magazine which was founded in Kampala, Uganda in 1961.[3] The magazine grew out of a series of conversations that took place among a group of Nairobi-based writers in the early 2000s.[4] Its founding editor, Binyavanga Wainaina, spearheaded the project shortly after winning the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.[5][6] The first print issue of the magazine was published in 2003.[7] Kwani? has been called "the most renowned literary journal in sub-Saharan Africa".[8] It is produced by the Kwani Trust, which is "dedicated to nurturing and developing Kenya’s and Africa’s intellectual, creative and imagination resources through strategic literary interventions".[9]

Kwani?, which receives significant funding from the Ford Foundation,[10] has become a major platform for writing from across the African continent. It has served as a launching pad for the careers of several writers, including Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, winner of the 2003 Caine Prize;[11] Uwem Akpan, author of the best-selling short story collection Say You're One of Them,[12] and Billy Kahora, now the magazine's managing editor.[6] Each edition of the journal contains up to 500 or more pages of new journalism, fiction, experimental writing, poetry, cartoons, photographs, ideas, literary travel writing and creative non-fiction.[13] The seventh edition of Kwani? "is subtitled 'Majuu' – a sheng (street slang) reference to 'overseas' – and is a 570-page testament to the journal's diasporic roots."[14]


  • Kwani Trust 1
  • Kwani? Manuscript Project 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Kwani Trust

Kwani Trust is a regional literary hub and a community of writers that is committed to the growth of the region's creative industry through publishing and distributing contemporary African literature, offering training opportunities, producing literary events and establishing global literary networks.[15] The Kwani? Literary Festival is organized on a biennial basis, where for the course of one week, the literary leaders of Kenya, enriched with visiting writers from around the world explore issues through the lenses of the continent’s past, present and emerging literatures.[16]

Kwani? Manuscript Project

In 2012, the Kwani? Manuscript Project was launched, a one-off literary prize for unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the African diaspora,[17] with a judging panel comprising Jamal Mahjoub, Ellah Allfrey (deputy editor of Granta magazine), Helon Habila, Simon Gikandi, Mbugua wa Mungai (chairman of Kenyatta University's Literature Department) and Irene Staunton (of Weaver Press in Zimbabwe).[18] In July 2013 the winner was announced as Ugandan writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.[19]


  1. ^ , November 16, 2011.Miami Herald"Binyavanga Wainaina Reading",
  2. ^ , October 13, 2003.Washington Post"Kenyan Writers Turn the Page on the Past",
  3. ^ Dzekashu MacViban, "One Day I Will Write About This Place - Kwani Litfest", Moving Africa, 31 January 2013. Goethe Institut.
  4. ^ Kwani Trust: Our History
  5. ^ "Caine prize 2002: Top award goes to Kenya's Wainaina". African Business. 1 September 2002. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "About Us". Kwani. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Our History". Kwani. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  8. ^ , July/August 2011.Boston ReviewAnna Clark, "How To Write About Africa",
  9. ^ "Kwani Trust", Africa Rising.
  10. ^ "Kwani Trust". Ford Foundation. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  11. ^ Michelle Pauli (2003). "Kenya celebrates Caine prize double". London: Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "Q. & A.: Between Two Continents". The New Yorker. 15 July 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  13. ^ Kwani? series, Goodreads.
  14. ^ Parselelo Kantai, "Kwani? 07, An Eclectic Tapestry - Book", The Africa Report, 18 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Kwani Trust", Kenya Publishers' Association.
  16. ^ Moving Africa, Goethe Institut.
  17. ^ The Kwani? Manuscript Project.
  18. ^ "Jamal Mahjoub and Helon Habila Included on The Kwani? Manuscript Project Judging Panel", Books Live.
  19. ^ , 3 July 2013.The Star"Uganda's Jennifer Makumbi Wins Kwani? Literary Prize", AllAfrica.

External links

  • Kwani? website
  • - a critical review
  • Daily NationStephen Derwent Partington, "War on Kwani? marks the death of literary engagement and rise of spite", , 9 February 2013.
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