Malawi Writers Union launches K8 million writing award

The Malawi Writers Union (MAWU) has re-launched the prestigious Peer Gynt Literary Award after an eight-year break.

MAWU President Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona said Friday in Blantyre during the re-launching ceremony, the Norwegian Government has pumped in over K8 million.

“After eight years of writers’ outcry, today, we are pleased to announce the re-launch of this glamorous award which has jumped from a humble K120, 000 to a whooping K8 000 000,” Mvona said.

Sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the annual award was established in honour of celebrated Norwegian playwright, Henri Ibsen.

Sambalikagwa Mvona

The name Peer Gynt was a famous play written by Ibsen in 1860 to climax his theatre career.

Amongst others, the competition will have six awardees with the first winner going away with a cash prize of K500, 000 while the three winning top manuscripts will be published and printed by the yet to be disclosed international printing house.

The second and third winners will walk away with K250 000 cash prizes while K50 000 will be given to as consolation prizes to three people.

Mvona said apart from being awarded cash prizes the winning manuscripts will also have an opportunity to be edited by professional editors and published through the Maravi Writers Series, a popular book series of the Malawi Writers Union.

He said before its “demise” the competition which staged poetry, essay, short-story, children’s book manuscript as well as adult book manuscript then, unearthed many new writers who went on to publish their works and made a name.

“An unknown girl then who resided on the slopes of Chiradzulu Mountain near Njuli known as Amilli Phwelera won the second prize in the short-story contest in 2000/2001 and was for the first time published in a book,” recalled Mvona.

Other beneficiaries of the award include Shadreck Chikoti whose The Trap won first prize, Gracious Changaya, Judge Nyakwawa Usiwausiwa, Jonathan Mbuna and Dr Mary Mkandawire, just to mention a few.

The president noted that the re-launch of the awards will benefit many Malawian writers both financially and in elevating their literary works.

He thanked the Norwegian Government, particularly the Ambassador His Excellency Asbjorn Eidhammer, for ensuring that the awards come back to life.

In the absence of the country’s National Literary Award, the Peer Gynt Literary Award is an ideal substitute as it has always unveiled hidden talent among Malawian authors.

The award also clearly supplements the elevation of both the country’s educational standards as well as preservation of Malawi’s cultural heritage.

The competition is expected to run for six months during which contestants will have to submit their entries for readers and judges to sift through and identify the winners.

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