Blessing Musariri
Blessing Musariri ari kufaya

Cordite books is a new, publishing company for genre fiction based in Lagos, Nigeria jointly owned by Parrésia Publishers and Award winning writer Helon Habila. They publisher is aimed at writing African fiction for African audiences; the writers we assume are Africans of course.

Their first project was last year when they made a call out to writers across the continent to submit quality crime manuscripts with the best receiving US$1,000 and publishing deal with distribution across the continent.

On Friday the company announced the winner of its prize; Zimbabwean Blessing Musariri’s manuscript “Useful Knowledge for a World Class Detective – The Black Mamba Journals” beat other 70 entries. The second place went to Demola Adeniran with “Descent of the Hills” and third place is David Oritogun with “The World is Your Oyster.” They will receive $250 and $200 respectively.

Helon Habila who will be editing the winning manuscript describes it as “Intelligent and well written. A hardcore detective story in the tradition of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency – but totally original in its own way. The protagonist is a 25 year old, plucky, ambitious, girl with an interesting back story.”

The book is set in Zimbabwe in 1995, and follows the exploits of Otillia Mandimutsa. Born Ratidzo Rushinga, Otillia is left in the care of a young aunt, who sends her off to indifferent relatives after the passing of her grandmother – her initial guardian. Running away from an abusive cousin at the age of eleven, she is beaten up and left for dead in a ditch. She is found by an elderly teacher, who, takes her in and gives her a fairly normal life. You can read more about the manuscript at the webpage where Cordite Books made the announcement about the winner.
Blessing Musariri is not new to writing. She has published four children’s titles, two of which have won national awards in Zimbabwe. She has also written short stories and poems published in various international anthologies and online magazines.

With this prize being won by a Zimbabwean you can expect to see the lady around the continent selling her book and posting YouTube videos with titles like “Zviri kufaya Pa Lagos,” “Zviri kufaya Ku Nairobi” and “Zviri kufaya Pa Johannesburg.”