Idza Luhumyo has been awarded the £10,000 AKO Caine Prize for African writing with her “incandescent” short story “Five Years Next Sunday”, which also won the 2021 Short Story Day Africa Prize.
The Kenyan writer’s winning work was chosen from 267 entries whittled down to a shortlist of four other stories by a judging panel chaired by Okey Ndibe. Luhumyo was announced as the winner at an award ceremony at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on 18th July.
The story will be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology later this year by Cassava Republic Press. Ndibe said: “What we liked about the story was the mystical office of the protagonist, who is both ostracised and yet holds the fate of her community in her hair.
“She is stripped of agency by her immediate family, as well as the Europeans who give the impression of placing her on a pedestal, yet within that seeming absence of agency, and oppressive world, is her stubborn reclamation of herself. The dramatic tension in the story is so powerful and palpable that it’s like something you could cut with a knife.”
The other judges re French-Guinean author and academic Elisa Diallo, South African literary curator and co-founder of The Cheeky Natives Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, UK-based Nigerian visual artist Ade ‘Àsìkò’ Okelarin and Kenyan co-founder of the Book Bunk Angela Wachuka.
Shortlisted alongside Luhumyo was Nigerian writer Joshua Chizoma for his story “Collector of Memories”, Ghana’s Nana-Ama Danquah for “When a Man Loves a Woman”, Ethiopian writer Hannah Giorgis with “A Double-Edged Inheritance” and Billie McTernan from Ghana for her story “The Labadi Sunshine Bar”. Each shortlisted writer received £500 and will also be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology.