The Fonlon-Nichols Award


Bernard Fonlon was a teacher, writer, editor of literary journals, and head of the African Literature Department at the University of Yaoundé. He passionately defended human rights in an often oppressive political atmosphere. When this noted Cameroonian man of letters died in 1986, a group of his friends from around the world decided to seek an appropriate way of honoring his memory.

Mobilized largely by Stephen Arnold (then Director of the Research Institute for African and Caribbean Literature -- RICLAC -- at the University of Alberta), these friends of Bernard Fonlon contributed to a memorial fund in his name. These contributions were matched by the Provincial Government of Alberta (Canada).

At about this time Lee Nichols announced his retirement. Nichols is a journalist whose positions in support of human rights and against racism are especially known among scholars of African literature for his historic Voice of America reports on the development of African literatures from the sixties to the present.

The executive committee of RICLAC felt it would be appropriate to associate his name to that of Bernard Fonlon, both having shared a commitment to democratic ideals, humanistic values, and literary excellence in Africa.

At its 1993 meeting in Guadeloupe, the Executive of theAfrican Literature Association resolved that the Award be conferred regularly at the annual meetings of the ALA.

The Fonlon-Nichols is awarded to an African writer for excellence in creative writing and contributions to the struggle for human rights and freedom of expression. The award comes with a $1,000.00 cash prize.


2023: Kofi Anyidoho

2022: Akachi Eziegbo

2018: Abdellatif Abdalla

2016: Tanure Ojaide

2015: Pepetela

2014: Nadine Gordimer

2013: Albie Sachs

2012: Mbulelo Mzamane

2011: Isidore Okpewho

2010: Odia Ofeimun

2009: Tess Onwueme

2008: Chukwuemeka Ike

2007: Nawal El Saadawi

2006: Femi Osofisan

2005: Dennis Brutus

2004: Pius Ngandu Nkashama

2003: Emmanuel Dongala

2002: Jack Mapanje

2001: Nuruddin Farah

2000: Wole Soyinka
           Acceptance Speech

1999: Abdellatif Laäbi

1998: Niyi Osundare

1997: Assia Djebar

1996: Ngugi wa Thiong'o

1995: Sony Labou Tansi

1994: Ken Saro-Wiwa

1993: Werewere Liking
           Acceptance Speech

1992: Mongo Beti & René Philombe
           Beti Acceptance Speech  |  Philombe Acceptance Speech

See this year's Call for Nominations in Announcements for the dates and details on the next competition.