The 2018 Shortlist for the CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature

Accra, Ghana July 31, 2018 – The Ghana Book Trust (GBT) and CODE are delighted to announce the finalists for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. This year, Ghana Book Trust received 17 submissions from publishers in Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. The five-member jury made up of publishing and writing professionals from each of the program countries and Canada, met on June 21 and 22, 2018 in Accra to review the manuscripts that were submitted to the 2017 National CODE Burt Award by winners and finalists. 

Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Chair of this year’s jury commented: “The diversity of themes in the manuscripts we received this year was impressive. We have some wonderful and dynamic young adult literature coming out of these countries. The publishers, editors, and writers should all be very proud of their work.”   

The 2018 shortlist of finalists for the CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature in alphabetic order are:

  • Ebony Girl by Vera Akumiah (Kwadwoan Publishers, Ghana)
  • The Lion’s Whisper by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie (Kwadwoan Publishers, Ghana)
  • To Kiss a Girl by Ruby Yayra Goka (Digibooks, Ghana)
  • Finding Columbia by Kinyanjui Kombani (Oxford University Press, East Africa Ltd, Kenya)
  • Somebody’s Daughter by Hiwot Walelign (Mega Publishing, Ethiopia)

The winning title and honour books will be announced at the CODE Burt Award Ceremony in Accra, Ghana. Hosted by the Ghana Book Trust, the award ceremony will feature Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, the renowned international and Ghanaian writer, as the guest of honor and speaker and Okyeame Kwame a renowned Ghanaian music artist. 

Genevieve Eba-Polley , the Executive Director of the Ghana Book Trust, stated , “We are proud to be part of this international program that helps ensure great literature from Africa reaches our students and teachers.  We are honored and excited to host and celebrate these wonderful authors and their stories during the Ghana International Book Fair.”

In addition to the cash prizes presented to the winners and finalists, CODE will purchase 2,000 copies each of the winning title and the honour books. CODE’s partners in each of the program countries, including Ghana Book Trust, will receive and distribute the published books to schools, libraries, community centres and other non-profit organizations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.

“The CODE Burt Awards have truly become an indispensable part of Africa’s literary landscape. These titles will join an impressive list of over 65 previous honourees that make up the collected works of the CODE Burt Awards in Africa. We’re proud not just because of the high quality of the writing – a key aspect in developing critical literacy – but because Young Adult Literature is more important than ever for African youth and their ability to discover, experience and talk about the changing world in which we all live.  That’s the great thing about YA – its more than just a story – it helps young people confront all the difficult issues they face as they prepare to enter adulthood.”, said CODE’s Executive Director, Scott Walter.

The panel that adjudicated this year’s CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature included, Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur (Chair of the jury, librarian and former Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana), Mr. Bob Tyrell (Canadian publisher), Dr. Lilian Osaki (Senior lecturer, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Dr. Tom Odhiambo (Lecturer, University of Nairobi, Kenya) and Miss Linda Yohaness (Author and lecturer, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia). 

The Ghana Book Trust is also pleased to announce the 2018 shortlist of finalists for the Ghana National Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. These books were adjudicated by a local panel and the Ghana National Award Winning title will be announced during the BAAYAL award ceremony at the International Book Fair.

The Ghana National shortlisted books in alphabetic order:

  • Born to Play by Asare Adei (Asdan Vision)
  • Friendship Across the Sissane Bridge by Silva Kwabla Lumor (Revise and Publish!)
  • Freaky Freedom by Denice Yao Pomary (Jeldmo Publications)
  • Madam High Heels by Jonathan Akai (Mountype Publishing)
  • The Broken Wall by Ruby Yayra Goka (Digibooks Gh. Ltd.)

About CODE

If you can read and write, you can learn to do, and be, anything. That’s the idea behind CODE.  A Canadian NGO with 59 years of experience, CODE advances literacy and learning in Canada and around the world by establishing and igniting engaging learning environments through the development and publishing of locally authored books, training teachers and librarians, resourcing libraries and distributing high quality reading materials. CODE’s international programs encourage development through education, support to libraries, professional development for teachers, as well as national and local book publishing in over 20 languages. 

The CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature

The CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature is an English-language, multi-country prize, supported by four National Awards. The objective of the CODE Burt Award is to provide African youth with access to engaging, high quality and culturally relevant reading materials. Each country adjudicates and awards a CODE National Award and you’ll find these in each of the four countries: The CODE Burt  Award for Ethiopian Young Adult Literature, the CODE Burt Award for Ghanaian Young Adult Literature, the CODE Burt Award for Tanzanian Young Adult Literature, and the CODE Burt Award for Kenyan Young Adult Literature. Administered by CODE and made possible by the generous support of Canada’s Literary Prizes Foundation and the legacy of William “Bill” Burt, the CODE Burt Literary Awards recognize 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.

To learn more about the CODE Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature, go to

For more information contact:

Olunosen Louisa Ibhaze
Program Officer, Literary Awards & Publishing
321 Chapel Street, Ottawa ON CANADA K1N 7Z2
t: 613 232 3569 x 233


Genevieve Eba-Polley Ghana Book Trust

Thursday, August 2, 2018
News Type: 
Press Release