Stellenbosch University | Political Science


About the Award

To advance the study of democracy by African students, the Centre for Research on Democracy (CREDO) at Stellenbosch University hosts an annual essay writing initiative – the African Democracy Essay Award – open to undergraduate students across South Africa. Eligible students from across the country are invited to submit an essay which addresses a key issue relevant to the experience of democracy on the African continent. Participants are supported throughout their writing journey by some of CREDO’s own team members, who are eager to ensure that every participant has the tools necessary to prepare a submission-ready essay.

Final submissions are followed by a rigorous assessment by CREDO’s panel of judges, after which three winning essays are chosen. Each of the three winners receives a honorarium (R5 000, R3 000 or R2 000 respectively) for the publication of their essay on a partnering platform, as well as an invaluable addition to their curriculum vitae (CV)By participating in this national initiative, you will thus not only involve yourself in the debates and ideas at the heart of contemporary democracy, but will also have the opportunity to improve your research and writing skills and, in the process, produce high-quality work that can be showcased to potential employers and graduate schools. Participation can thus be particularly beneficial if you are a student considering further studies, or a career in academia, policymaking, governance, development, or law.

The African Democracy Essay Award is open to undergraduate students at any South African university, including foreign nationals. Participation is the ideal opportunity for those studying in the humanities, the social sciences (including economics), or law. For more information on the latest round of the Award, please see below. 

The 2023 Round – Submissions Open!

The African Democracy Essay Award 2023 is ready to launch, with final submissions closing on the 15th of September 2023. If you are a student interested in participating, or a lecturer interested in sharing this initiative with your class, please sign up here as well as read the Writing Brief for information on this year’s topics and additional instructions. Special care has been taken this year to provide extra assistance to participating students, including an extensive list of research resources, several guides on how to research and write essays of this nature, an assessment rubric, an online Q&A session, and the opportunity to email CREDO team members for research and writing guidance. 

Submissions Open: 1 July 2023

Submissions Close: 15 September 2023 

The Centre for Research on Democracy is very proud to welcome the South African office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) as its partner for the 2023 round of the African Democracy Essay Award. Our thanks go out to our friends at KAS for their valuable input and support, as well as for the excellent work they do in bolstering democracy around the world.

The Inaugural 2022 Round

1st Place – Terique Carim
Politics in the Courtyard

2nd Place – Sunesan Reddy
Coalition Politics and South Africa

3rd Place – Sonia Twongyeirwe 
The Big Communicators

The inaugural round of the African Democracy Essay Award, which ran from the 15th of August 2022 to the 15th of January 2023 as the “African Democracy Essay Prize”, was a learning experience for the CREDO team as much as it was for the initiative’s participants. Despite its novelty, the inaugural round attracted submissions from over two dozen undergraduate students attending eight South African universities. With each participant demonstrating a remarkable willingness and energy to engage with Africa’s democratic experience, the entire cohort displayed precisely the kind of drive that will push Africa forward in the years to come. 

Contact Us

General queries can be sent to Damien du Preez, while requests for research and writing guidance can be sent to Kira Alberts. To stay up to date with this initiative, as well as CREDO’s other activities, you can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn