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IDZA LUHUMYO OF KENYA WINS THE CAINE PRIZE FOR ‘EXQUISITE’ SHORT STORY

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Ndibe began with a eulogy for the top five authors, Joshua Chizoma (Nigeria), Nana-Ama Danquah (Ghana), Hannah Giorgis (Ethiopia), Idza Luhumyo (Kenya), and Billie McTernan, as she looked around the vast, domed auditorium and the five authors who had been shortlisted (Ghana). You are all winners, but since we live in a capitalist world, we must also give out a first reward. That prize belongs to Idza Luhumyo from Kenya.

Ndibe began with a eulogy for the top five authors, Joshua Chizoma (Nigeria), Nana-Ama Danquah (Ghana), Hannah Giorgis (Ethiopia), Idza Luhumyo (Kenya), and Billie McTernan, as she looked around the vast, domed auditorium and the five authors who had been shortlisted (Ghana). You are all winners, but since we live in a capitalist world, we must also give out a first reward. That prize belongs to Idza Luhumyo from Kenya.

Ndibe called Idza’s story, “Five Years Next Sunday”, about a lady in Kenya’s Coast Province who is shunned but has the power to decide the fate of her community, “incandescent” and “written exquisitely.”

African Arguments, Popula, Jalada Africa, the Writivism Anthology, MaThoko’s Books, and Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine have all published works by Idza. She was the inaugural recipient of the Short Story Day Africa Prize in 2018 as well as the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award in 2020.

Idza, a screenwriter and qualified lawyer, told the BBC that she appreciated the challenge of creating short stories since it required “Fitting the narrative” into a narrower frame. With the award in hand, she continued, “hopefully you’ll be hearing from me in a couple of years.”

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Billie McTernan and Nana-Ama Danquah, two of the other authors who made the shortlist, have excelled as writers for The Africa Report. Billie was the editor of the renowned Art & Life section of the magazine, which combined reporting, interviews, and cultural analysis. She made several reporting visits to West Africa from Paris for the magazine, covering politics and economy.

Her shortlisted story, The Labadi Sunshine Bar, was partially inspired by her time spent living in Accra’s Labadi beach neighborhood and experiencing its hectic nightlife. The story is included in the Accra Noir collection, which is distributed by Akashic Books in the US and Cassava Republic Press in Africa and Europe. Billie has been working on a variety of multi-media projects since earning her master’s in visual arts from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, including innovative podcasts and radio conversations.

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And Nana-Ama, whose award-winning memoir Willow Weep for Me about overcoming melancholy and despair in the US placed her among the top writers in both that nation and Africa, edited the Accra Noir anthology. She edited Becoming American, Shaking the Tree, The Black Body, and then Accra Noir. She was a well-known speaker in creative writing.

The famous opening words of When a Man Loves a Woman come from her narrative and reads, “Every morning for the last five days, Kwame had woken up next to a corpse. Well technically, Adwoa had not yet become a corpse…”

The promise made in the collection’s introduction that these stories would emphasize all things Accra, everything that the city was and is… the most fundamental human failings laid bare alongside fear, love, and pain, and the corrupting desire to have the very things that you are not meant to have is fully fulfilled by this story, as is Billie’s.

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