The aim of the award program is to recognize, celebrate, and promote quality in Christian authorship in East Africa. Seventy-four books were nominated for the awards and were reviewed by a panel of 12 judges. They were classified into 10 categories; young readers, family, men and women, missions, Church and theology, Christian living, culture, history and biography, and leadership. The award process flagged off in June 2021 included receiving nominations, appointing judges and judging criteria, assessing the books, culminating in the award gala. The program celebrated the “best of the year” in the categories and five finalists were chosen in each category unless there was a tie. The winner in each category was announced and awarded at the gala. In total there were 13 awardees, with the other three awards being; content of the year, book cover of the year, and book program of the year. The first two came with a cash price of Kenya Shillings 50,000 worth of printing from CLC Kenya.
In the keynote speech, Bishop Dr. Stephen Kanyia of the Redeemed Gospel Church of Kenya emphasized the importance of reading and writing to transform mindsets. He commended the organisers of ACABA for their efforts to enhance professionalism in African writing. As a preacher who reads many Bible commentaries, he said his favourite is the Africa Bible Commentary because it’s written by African authors, “in a context I can easily identify with.” The judges were impressed by the rich quality and content of books contrary to popular belief that African writers’ quality of writing is poor. While celebrating the good writing, they pointed out areas that need improvements such as the need for proper research, referencing and citation, and thorough editing. They noted there were books that seemed to merely repeat scripture, simply transcribed sermons, lacked professionalism especially in choice of cover and layout, needed a more solid theological foundation, and instances where the target audience was unclear. They highly commended the young authors and called for greater mentorship. The authors hailed the process as a very enriching experience where they networked and learnt from fellow authors, received mentorship and helpful insights from the ACABA team gained access to a wider audience thus getting the opportunity to reach beyond Kenya. The 2022 book submission call is open and the window runs from November 2021 – August 2022. The speakers at the award gala expressed their longing for an Africa wide writing competition and continental gala. Patrick Omukhango a director at CLC Kenya was a participant in the initial Africa Speaks conference and Liz Patten, Regional Director of CLC Africa is the secretary of the Trustees of Africa Speaks network.
The speakers at the award gala expressed their longing for an Africa wide writing competition and continental gala.This was surely a momentous occasion for us in Africa Speaks who are committed to working together to foster a flourishing African publishing industry for the enrichment of the Church and society in Africa and throughout the world.