Idza Luhumyo. Photo/Elisa DeFord

Idza Luhumyo was declared the winner of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing 2022 in a ceremony in London, UK on Monday, July 18, 2022.

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is awarded annually to an African writer published in English for a short story since the year 2000. It has recognised some of the most famous writers working today like Leila Aboulela, Helon Habila, Yvonne Adhiambo Owour, and many more. In recent times, winners of the prize have been Meron Hadero (2021), Irenosen Okojie (2020), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019), Makena Onjerika (2018), Bushra al-Fadil (2017), Lidudumalingani Mqombothi (2016), Namwali Serpell (2015), and Okwiri Oduor (2014).

This year’s edition was judged by author, journalist, and academic Okey Ndibe who chairs the panel alongside Elisa Diallo, Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, Angela Wachuka, and Àsìkò Okelarin. The five shortlisted writers were announced from the 349 entries from 27 African countries on June 8 before the winner was revealed today.

Okey Ndibe, Chair of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Judging Panel, announced the winner at the award ceremony tonight at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Speaking of Luhumyo’s story he 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.’

Five Years Next Sunday, which won the Short Story Day Africa Prize 2021, is a story about a young woman with the unique power to call the rain in her hair. Feared by her family and community, a chance encounter with a foreigner changes her fortunes, but there are duplicitous designs upon her most prized and vulnerable possession.

Idza Luhumyo’s work has previously been published by Popula, Jalada Africa, The Writivism Anthology, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, MaThoko’s Books, Gordon Square Review, Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, the New Internationalist, The Dark, and African Arguments. Her work has been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and the Gerald Kraak Award. She is the inaugural winner of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award (2020) and winner of the Short Story Day Africa Prize (2021).

Idza receives the £10,000 cash prize while the other shortlisted writers receive £500.