The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced its shortlist.
The AKO Caine Prize, first awarded in 2000, is in honour of the former chairman of Booker Plc the late Sir Michael Caine, It is an annual literary award of £10,000 for the best original short story by an African writer, whether in Africa or elsewhere and it is published in the English language.
This years AKO Caine Prize shortlist is
- How to Marry an African President-by Erica Sugo Anyadike
- The Neighbourhood Watch by Remy Ngamje
- What to do when your child brings home Mami Wata by Chikodie Emelumadu
- Fishermans Stew by Jowhor Ile
- Grace Jones by Irenosen Okojie
How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike
Anyadike tells this story in a simple and understandable way. Its not overloaded with adjectives and adverbs. It gets straight to the point and the message is very clear. She writes it as if she is talking in a natural way to you. As I read it, it brought a smile to my face . Although there are no mentions of names the majority of African know who Anyadike is talking about. It tells the story of a lady who is a secretary in the State House typing pool. She gravitates from being a secretary to being the First Lady. The President and the secretary equally play mind games with each other. Despite this,they know what each other wants and eventually both of them are ‘winners’
What to do when your child brings home a Mami Water by Chikodih Emelumadu
This story gives instructions. Instructions on what a parent should do if they are faced with the probability that their son or daughters intended spouse may be a ‘Mami Water’ -Mermaid Spirit. This is a new twist on the African short story. It comes in the form of a scientific paper. It reminds me of Petinah Gappah in her book Rotten Row. where, in one of the short stories, she uses the form of a legal document.
Despite it not written in the traditional short story form What to do when your child brings home a Mami Water does not fail to conjure images of a ‘Mami Water’ and the process the in-laws should take in an attempt to ‘out -it’ A non African would easily visualize Emelumadus message.
Fishermans Stew by Jowhor Ile
Here Ile narrates the experiences of a widow who is visited at night by her dead husband. The widow sees herself as giving the day time to her friends and family but the night is devoted to her husband for whom she cooks a pot of stew ‘Fishermans Stew’
Irenosen Okojie- Grace Jones
Irenosen introduces us to a Grace Jones look-alike who suffers from inner turmoil and chaos after the loss of her family. The deepness of the inner turmoil of the main character, Sidra, is eloquently shown in the deepness of Okojies writing.
Remy Ngamije The Neighborhood Watch
The big small world of five homeless people in an African city. The Neighbourhood Watch focuses on Elias, Lazarus, Silas, Martin and Omagano in their quest for survival in the big city. They see themselves as ‘family’ even though it is obvious that they are not biologically related. They have devised a weekly timetable as to which parts of the city they plan to visit in order to forage for foods and essentials. It also shows the various type of people the encounter on these foraging trips.
Congratulations to all the authors. In my eyes, you are all Caine Prize winners.
Thanks for reading