Idza Luhumyo

Idza Luhumyo was announced the winner of the Short Story Day Africa Prize 2021 today, June 21, 2021. Second and third were Mbozi Haimbe and Alithanayn Abdulkareem respectively.

Short Story Day Africa recognises short story writers across the continent while also helping to increase their skills sets with workshops. Their Short Story Africa Day Prize has been won by Adam El Shalakany (2018), Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor (2017), Sibongile Fisher (2016), Cat Hellisen (2015), Diane Awerbuck (2014), and Okwiri Oduor (2013).

The theme for 2021 is “Disruption” and the resulting anthology that comes from the longlisted entries, Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, will be edited by Rachel Zadok, the founder of Short Story Day Africa and author of Sister-Sister and Gem Squash Tokoloshe. The longlist for the award was announced on October 8, 2020 before the shortlist was revealed on May 4.

The award winner was revealed to be Idza Luhumyo (Kenya) for her short story Five Years Next Sunday.  Idza Luhumyo is a Kenyan writer with training in screenwriting and a background in law. Her artistic practice lies at the intersection of law, film, and literature. She is currently studying towards an MA in Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London.

Luhumyo was followed by Shelter – Mbozi Haimbe (Zambia) who won the Africa region prize of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019, and a 2020 PEN America/Robert J Dau Prize. She is currently working on her debut novel, an Afrofuturistic story based on the Makishi masquerade traditions of the North-western people of Zambia. A qualified social worker, Mbozi lives in Norfolk, UK, with her family. Alithanayn Abdulkareem (Nigeria) is a development practitioner and writer based in Washington DC. She writes mostly opinion articles and personal essays, with the occasional short story to keep things interesting.

The award organisers in their statement said, “congratulations to our three winners! We’re immensely proud of you. The competition was extremely tough, as anyone who reads Disruption will see, and the judges were exceptionally impressed with the calibre and imaginative reach of your stories—especially as the topic was set before the world as we knew it changed so dramatically and disastrously. A particular source of pleasure is noting that two of the three winners who have had their stories appear in our previous anthologies. This gives us added confidence that the writers in Disruption are indeed ones to watch in the future—a rewarding prospect for us and for Catalyst Press.”

The three will receive $800 (about R11,400), $200 and $100, and their stories, along with the rest of the longlist, will be published in Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, due out in September 2021.