Mustapha Enesi was revealed to be the winner of the K & L Prize for African Literature 2021 on November 6, 2021. His winning story Kesandu will feature in Fullmoon, a K & L anthology, which will be published by Griots Lounge, New Zealand in 2022.
The K & L Prize, an award for the best piece of unpublished fiction by an African resident age 18 to 25, was founded by New Zealand-based Nigerian writer Myles Ojabo in 2018. Previous winners of the award, named after the kids of its founder Kyle and Leona, have been Sisca Julius (2019) and Kanyinsola Olorunnisola (2020).
The judges for this year’s award were writer and first K & L Prize for African Literature winner Sisca Julius; editor, publisher, cultural enthusiast and development worker Su’ur Agema and K & L Prize founder Myles Ojabo. This year’s theme was on Madness. This panel announced the longlist for the prize on September 1 before the shortlist was revealed on October 3.
The winner for 2021 is Kesandu by Lagos, Nigeria-based Mustapha Enesi whose work has been published in The Maine Review, Kalahari Review, Eboquills, The Story Tree Challenge Maiden Anthology, and elsewhere. He was shortlisted for the 2021 Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize, and his flash fiction piece ‘Shoes’ was highly commended in Litro Magazine’s 2021 Summer Flash Fiction Contest.
‘Writing gives me strength, and the K & L Prize validates this strength,’ Mustapha Enesi said. “The writer says that he uses his writing to connect with characters who do not experience this world’s luxury. ‘…women, people who linger on the spectrum of sexual identity, the poor, and children in problematic homes. Kesandu, like my other stories, houses these characters and their experiences.’
The writer, who does not believe in happy endings, further recounts, ‘People say that there are happy endings, that stories should have happy endings. But in reality, people go through one obstacle after another. It’s a loop. There are rarely happy endings for the oppressed.’
Enesi’s story Kesandu with all stories on the 2021 longlist from writers resident in Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, and the Gambia will appear in Fullmoon, a K & L anthology, which would be published by Griots Lounge, New Zealand in 2022. He also receives the $1000 (New Zealand) prize money.