Gaze at the face of Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde the 2012 winner and get motivated.
Gaze at the face of Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde the 2012 winner and get motivated.

The Caine Prize for African writing was announced yesterday and the list was quite surprising to say the very least; four Nigerians and 1 Sierra Leonian. No other nationality was named in what many consider one of Africa’s leading writing prizes.

Kenyans have a pretty cool relationship with two Binyavanga Wainaina and Yvonne Owuor winning it in 2002 and 2003. Wainaina’s piece was “Discovering Home” and Yvonne’s was “Weight of Whispers.”

Its been dry since. Almost literary desert like with only Parsalelo Kantai in 2004 (“Comrade Lemma and the Black Jerusalem Boys’ Band”) and Muthoni Garland in 2006 (Tracking the Scent of My Mother) being nominated. Last year was much better for us (Kenya) with Billy Kahora’s story on some drunk going to confront his bosses in the office “Urban Zoning” according us the first nomination in a while.

I am not going to lament that the Caine Prize team failed to do regional representation with their nominations. I am going ask Kenyan fiction writers to up their game. The winner of this prize has good things coming their way starting with a £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 8 July. And then there is the profile you raise when you get in those spaces.

So Kenyan, I urge you to read the following shortlisted nominees, get tips and go for the 2014 edition:

  • Elnathan John (Nigeria) ‘Bayan Layi’ from Per Contra, Issue 25 (USA, 2012)
    Read Bayan Layi
  • Tope Folarin (Nigeria) ‘Miracle’ from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012)
    Read Miracle
  • Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone) ‘Foreign Aid’ from Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 23.3 (Philadelphia, 2012)
    Read Foreign Aid
  • Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria) ‘The Whispering Trees’ from The Whispering Trees, published by Parrésia Publishers (Lagos, 2012)
    Read The Whispering Tree
  • Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) ‘America’ from Granta, Issue 118 (London, 2012)
    Read America

All the best Kenya people. Also Ugandan people. And Tanzanian people. Basically all None-Nigerian and Sierra Leone people.