CODE Announces the Winner of the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature All-Stars

Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature sealOttawa, Canada, September 29, 2017 - CODE is proud to announce the winner, the honour book, and the finalists for the 2017 Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature: All-Stars. The National Book Development Council of Kenya in partnership with CODE hosted a fun-filled award ceremony for the authors and publishers at the Southern Sun, May Fair Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on September 29th, as part of the International Book Fair.

CODE’s long-time partner, the Ghana Book Trust, coordinated a five-member international jury which selected the five contending titles from a pool of twenty-two books that had won first prize in previous national Burt Award competitions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania since 2009.

The All-Star winner is Waiting for the Sun (Ethiopia) by Elshadai Tesfaye.

Elshadai receives a cash prize of $10,000 CAD, while her publisher, CODE-Ethiopia receives a guaranteed purchase of 12,000 copies and a $2,000 CAD grant to promote the title.

Elshadai Tesfaye demonstrates an excellent writing skill by taking a blind girl from a state of hopelessness and making her a confident self-reliant young lady. The underlying message of the story is clear and it is revealed through the plot: how the young girl evolves is a clear indication that perseverance and commitment are coping strategies that can be used in all the various struggles young people go through,” commented Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Chair of the five-member international jury.

The All-Star honour book prize goes to The Step-Monster (Ghana) by Ruby Yayra Goka.

Ruby receives a cash prize of $2,000 CAD, and her publisher, Digibooks Ghana Ltd receives a guaranteed purchase of 12,000 copies and a grant of $2,000 CAD to promote the title.

Mrs. Amissah-Arthur described The Step-Monster as “… an action-packed book that will keep readers on their toes wanting to read to the end because they will want to know what happens to the stepmother. The story is well structured and the plot unfolds beautifully through the various actions. Ruby Yayra Goka takes us through the journey of a young girl who has lost her mother, is grieving, and will not have her father marry another woman. Character building is excellently handled as the grieving girl develops and matures by the end of the story.”

The All-Stars finalists are:

  • Living in the Shade: Aiming for Summit (Tanzania) by Nahida Esmail, published by Mkuki na Nyota;
  • Face Under the Sea (Tanzania) by William Mkufya, published by Mangrove Publishers;
  • The Twelfth Heart by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie (Ghana) published by Kwadwoan Publishing. The finalist authors each receive a cash prize of $1,000 Canadian dollars.

“CODE is delighted to once again recognize works of excellence by African writers and storytellers,” said CODE Executive Director, Scott Walter. “We congratulate the authors and publishers whose books have received CODE’s Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. They should all be very proud of their achievement; the competition was stiff. We look forward to the distribution of the winning title and the honour book and I have no doubt a great many young people are going to fall in love with the written word and the art of storytelling as a result.

All of the books on the All-Star list fill the need for high-quality, informative, and entertaining young adult literature.  Africa, more than any other, is a continent of youth and young people who are hungry for new opportunities to learn and to expand their options for the future. Developing the love and habit of reading not only advances foundational language and literacy skills, it enhances the cognitive skills that today’s employers demand -- critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity and communication.”

Through its local implementing partners, CODE will distribute 12,000 copies each of the winner and honour book to schools, libraries, and community organizations across Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. These books will become front and centre of CODE’s Read with Me campaign, which was also launched on September 29, 2017 as part of the Nairobi International Book Fair. CODE’s Read with Me campaign is designed to promote the love and habit of reading by providing encouragement and inspiration. The campaign features “Reading Champions” from Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. A Reading Champion is anyone interested in promoting reading for pleasure, including young readers, celebrities, writers, teachers, librarians, students, and civil servants.  Even entire organizations can be reading champions. The campaign is carried through social media and in-person events. To learn more about CODE’s Read with Me campaign visit

About CODE and the Burt Award

CODE is Canada's leading international development organization uniquely focused on advancing literacy and education globally. By establishing and igniting engaging learning environments through the development and publishing of locally-authored and designed children books, training teachers and teacher-librarians, resourcing libraries and distributing high-quality reading materials, CODE focuses on inspiring young people to improve their literacy and comprehension so that they become critical thinkers and life-long learners.

Administered by CODE and made possible by the generosity of William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, CODE’s Burt Award recognizes excellence in young adult literature, addresses an ongoing shortage of relevant, high-quality books for young readers, and promotes a love of reading and learning at the upper primary and secondary school levels. Established in Tanzania in 2008, the program has since expanded to Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Canada, and the Caribbean.

For more information contact:
Claire Bolton
Program Officer, Literary Awards
1-800-661-2633 or 613-232-3569 ext 233


Friday, September 29, 2017
News Type: 
Burt Award News
In the News
Press Release