Short story and poetry call out.

Hekaya begins a new chapter focusing on Coast writers with a new literature prize awarded for short fiction and poetry. The call out is open from open from 4th December 2020 to 31st January 2021.


We strongly propagate for story telling in Kiswahili and hold the language in high regard. A separate call out for Kiswahili content will be made in January 2021 as a memorialization of a prominent poet in the Swahili coast.


Hekaya wants to encourage and boost the writing community of the coast by awarding cash prizes and honouring the work of Coastal writers. This prize will focus on promoting the perspectives and passion of Coast story-telling. The first place in each category is 10,000/=, and 2 runners-up in each category to be 7,500/=.


The winners will be published on Hekaya’s online literary magazine and be invited to do readings at the Swahili Literary festival in March 2021. All finalists will be considered for future publication. Winners and finalists will be notified by 15th February 2021.





Send us short fiction with a 1,500 – 4,000-word count typed in New Times Roman, size 12, double-spaced. The call out is not themed. We would want you to exercise your creativity without thematic limitation. Do keep within the word count.




We allow two poems from participants, each not exceeding 100 lines.




  • There is no entry fee.
  • Writers are welcome to submit work in one category or both. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.
  • Work must not have been published anywhere, this includes social media and blogs.
  • No simultaneous submissions.
  • All submissions will be judged anonymously, putting your name or identifying information on your document will disqualify it.
  • Former contributors to Hekaya are eligible for entry.
  • Submissions may not be edited after being sent, please make sure your work is how you want it and send us your best work to be judged as is. Changes will not be made.
  • Hekaya does not have any particular restrictions on length but short and sweet is the way to go, prose can usually anywhere between a 100 to 5000 words, but a poem should not go over a 100 lines.
  • Stories should be set in Coast and have Coast sensibilities at their centre, Hekaya wants interesting work that will be judged on its quality and entertainment, not on its moral or societal contributions. We are looking for interesting plots and characters, not navel-gazing or moralizing think pieces. Entertainment value takes precedent, we are not interested in propaganda or educational work, but characters and heart. That being said, please do not send us work that is graphically and unecessarily violent and sexual or work that tries to get by on shock-factor alone. Send us something that’s good. We want to be entertained.
  • Eligibility; Only Kenyans who are residents of Coastal counties may submit for the prize, the purpose of this competition is to revitalise writing in the coast and reward our artists. We are accepting work from writers who grew up in these areas or have been living in them for a majority of their lives.


How to Submit


Send us an email at  with the category you mean to submit to in the subject line. If you are submitting to more than one category, you will send an email for each separate submission. Attach two documents, the first and foremost being your submission and the second attachment being a document containing your contact information.



All the best and good luck! 





award, kiswahili, literature, short story

Hekaya Initiative

Writing the East African Coast.

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