The Fage and Oliver Prize


Deborah Jones, 2016 Winner. Photographs by Iconic Productions


Terri Ochiagha, 2016 Winner. Photographs by Iconic Productions








The African Studies Association UK (ASAUK) invites publishers to nominate titles for the Fage & Oliver Prize. The ASAUK presents the Fage & OIiver Prize to the author of an outstanding original scholarly work published on Africa during the preceding 2 years.

John Donnelly Fage (1921-2002) and Roland Oliver (1923-2014) were pioneers of British African Studies.  After a decade teaching in the University of the Gold Coast, Fage spent the rest of his career at Birmingham University where he founded the Centre for West African Studies (CWAS).  With Oliver he founded The Journal of African History (1960).  Oliver taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies (1948 -1986).  He was one of the founders of the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom (1963) and played a major role in the establishment of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

The winner of the Fage & Oliver Prize will be announced at the Biennial ASAUK Conference in Birmingham in 2018. A list of the finalists for the Prize will be published in the programme of the meeting and on the ASAUK’s website at

Nominations are made directly by publishers who may nominate no more than 3 titles. Eligible titles would be original non-fiction scholarly works published in English (or translated into English) and distributed in the United Kingdom. Entries from all continents meeting these criteria are welcome. We especially welcome nominations from small and independent publishers. Publishers must supply 3 copies of each title submitted.

The subject matter has to significantly deal with Africa and/or related areas (Cape Verde, Madagascar, or Indian Ocean Islands off the East African coast). Collections and compilations, proceedings of symposia, new editions of previously published books, bibliographies, and dictionaries are not eligible.

Only books with a 2016 or 2017 copyright are eligible for the 2018 Prize. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2017.

Three copies of nominated monographs should be sent by 31 December 2017 to:

Dr Insa Nolte
President, African Studies Association UK
Department of African Studies and Anthropology
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT


The winner of the inaugural Fage & Oliver Prize, for a book published in 2014 or 2015, was announced at the Biennial ASAUK Conference, held at the University of Cambridge, 7-9 September 2016.

In 2016 the two winners were:

Deborah James, Money from Nothing: indebtedness and aspiration in South Africa. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.
This timely, empirically rich, and theoretically innovative study explores the upsurge in consumer indebtedness, and its flipside, accessible credit in South Africa, following the post-1994 government’s initiative to abolish “credit apartheid” and “bank the unbanked”. It reveals a complex, contradictory and multi-faceted picture of ordinary people’s experiences of debt, and their efforts to keep a grip on expenditure while meeting family obligations and investing in a better future through education and training. It shows the significance of debt for a growing African middle class, and the complex forms that private ownership of property amongst African families has increasingly been taking. Based on original research, it is illuminated with captivating individual case studies while speaking authoritatively to a whole domain of comparative and theoretical work on popular economies, the formal and informal sectors, and the meaning of indebtedness.

Terri Ochiagha, Achebe and Friends at Umuahia: the making of a literary elite. Oxford: James Currey, 2015.
In this book, new light is shed on an iconic figure. In the last decades of colonial rule, Government College Umuahia in Eastern Nigeria produced an extraordinary cohort of creative writers – among them Chinua Achebe, doyen of African novelists. This study is an original exploration of the formation of this elite and the reasons for their adoption of fiction and poetry as their mode of expression. It traces the role of individual British teachers in their interactions with the young Nigerian writers-to-be, thus vividly illustrating the more culturally creative aspects of the colonial encounter. Ochiagha draws on interviews, memoirs and hitherto unknown archival sources, including school magazines, photographs and letters revealing the life and ethos of this prestigious school, to trace the emergence of a new literature. Elegantly written, this is a historical sociology of literature of a kind rare in African Studies.