Kenyan author, Idza Luhumyo, has been awarded the annual AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her story ‘Five Years Next Sunday’.
In a special ceremony hosted at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, Luhumyo beat over 260 entries to emerge the winner earning praises as one that “represented a staggering feast.”
With the award, the African author becomes just the fifth Kenyan to win the writing prize behind Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014) and Makena Onjerika (2018).
“It was enchantment galore, a testament to the vibrancy, variety, and splendor of creative talent among writers of African descent,” said Okey Ndibe who chaired the judging panel.
“What we liked about the story was the mystical office of the protagonist, who is both ostracized and yet holds the fate of her community in her hair,” said the judges
“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 the 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,” stated Odibe.
‘Five Years Next Sunday’, a story published in the book Disruption, the story gravitates around a young woman who possesses the power to summon rain with her hair and commands respect from it. She had her fortunes upended after an encounter with a foreigner but has to be careful regarding the power her hair commands.
Her story “Five Years Next Sunday” was also the winner of the 2019/20 Short Story Day Africa Prize and was published in the Johannesburg Review of Books.
The 29-year-old was shortlisted among other writers including Joshua Chizoma (Nigeria) for “Collector of Memories,” Nana-Ama Danquah (Ghana) for “When a Man Loves a Woman,” Hannah Giorgis (Ethiopia) for “A Double-Edged Inheritance,” and Billie McTernan (Ghana) for “The Labadi Sunshine Bar.”
The prize, which had 267 entries this year, is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English. It is awarded yearly to a short story by a writer from Africa or the African diaspora.
The winner receives Ksh1.4 million while the other finalists walk away with roughly Ksh70,000 (£500).