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ZIMBABWE: Winner of the Caine prize for African writing announced
Caineprize.com
July 22, 2004

http://www.caineprize.com

Brian Chikwava, from Zimbabwe, has won the fifth Caine Prize for African Writing for ‘Seventh Street Alchemy’ from Writing Still, Weaver Press, Harare 2003. The result was announced by the Chair of the judges, Alvaro Ribeiro, at a dinner held this evening (Monday, 19 July) in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Brian is the first winner of the Prize from Zimbabwe.

"A very strong narrative in which Brian Chikwava of Zimbabwe claims the English language as his own, and English with African characteristics," said Alvaro Ribeiro. "A triumph for the long tradition of Zimbabwe writing in the face of Zimbabwe’s uncertain future!" Although from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Brian Chikawava spent his formative years in Harare, where at the popular artistes’ venue, The Book Café, he regularly took part in poet evenings, public discussions and music performances. It is here that he started experimenting with different genres of art by collaborating with other young writers and musicians in an attempt to create new ways of presenting the African experience.

Brian has recently relocated to London and is working on his first projects outside Zimbabwe – Bubble Wrapping Artificial Shit, a novella that he has just started writing, and Jacaranda Skits, a music album of his unique and ‘whole-wheat’ sound that blends his writing abilities with southern African township jazz, ska and blues.

Also on the shortlist were:

  • Doreen Baingana (Uganda) for ‘Hunger’ from the Sun Magazine, March 2003;
  • Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) for ‘The Story of Comrade Lemma and the Black Jerusalem Boys Band’ from Kwani?, Nairobi 2003;
  • Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda) for ‘Strange Fruit’ from Cook Communication, online magazine AuthorMe;
  • Chika Unigwe (Nigeria) for ‘The Secret’ from online literature magazine Open Wide.
Last year’s Prize was awarded to Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Kenya, for ‘Weight of Whispers’ from Kwani?, Nairobi 2003. Yvonne is currently Executive Director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival and has been named ‘Woman of the Year’ by Eve Magazine in Nairobi. Kenyan writer and journalist Binyavanga Wainaina won the Prize in 2002 for ‘Discovering Home’, from G21Net 2001. Wainaina has since gone on to establish Kwani?, Kenya’s only literary magazine, from which both Yvonne’s story and one of this year’s short listed stories were chosen.

Alvaro Ribeiro, this year’s Chair of the judges, was also a judge for the first Caine Prize in 2000. Alvaro is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University, Washington DC, where he teaches courses on Shakespeare, the Eighteenth Century and the Man Booker Prize. The other judges on this year’s panel included Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele; Bernice Rubens, whose novels include ‘The Elected Member’ for which she won the 1970 Booker Prize, ‘Our Father’, and most recently ‘Nine Lives’; Anna Umbima, broadcaster and journalist; and Nana Wilson-Tagoe, Senior Lecturer in African Literature, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

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