[The JRB Daily] Short Story Day Africa Prize ‘Disruption’ winners announced—judges impressed with the ‘calibre and imaginative reach’ of the stories

The winners of the 2020/21 Short Story Day Africa Prize have been announced. 

Header image: Idza Luhumyo (winner), Mbozi Haimbe (1st Runner up) and Alithanayn Abdulkareem (2nd Runner up)

The winners will receive prize money of $800 (about R11,400), $200 and $100, and their stories, along with the rest of the longlist, will be published in Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, due out in September 2021. 

The three winning stories will be published exclusively for you to read on The JRB this week, from Wednesday—so keep your eyes on the website!

Short Story Day Africa also announced a publishing partnership with Catalyst Press. More on that below.

2020/21 Short Story Day Africa Prize winners

  • Winner: ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ by Idza Luhumyo (Kenya) 
  • 1st Runner up: ‘Shelter’ by Mbozi Haimbe (Zambia)
  • 2nd Runner up: ‘Static’ by Alithanayn Abdulkareem (Nigeria)

Short Story Day Africa organisers said: 

Congratulations to our three winners! We’re immensely proud of you. The competition was extremely tough, as anyone who reads Disruption will see, and the judges were exceptionally impressed with the calibre and imaginative reach of your stories—especially as the topic was set before the world as we knew it changed so dramatically and disastrously.

A particular source of pleasure is noting that two of the three winners who have had their stories appear in our previous anthologies. This gives us added confidence that the writers in Disruption are indeed ones to watch in the future—a rewarding prospect for us and for Catalyst Press.

On their new publishing partnership with Catalyst Press, Short Story Day Africa commented:

These are exciting times for Short Story Day Africa, in spite of the challenges we’re all facing. A publishing partnership with Catalyst Press has brought fresh new opportunities to the project that widens our reach of our small team: an extended publishing family that opens up even more platforms for the writers we love and nurture.

Catalyst Press was founded in 2017, as a literary spark aimed at bringing voices from around the globe to readers everywhere. They’re ideal publishing partners for SSDA. Their mission aligns perfectly with ours: to help emerging African voices develop their skills; and to provide a space for writers to publish work that subverts, reimagines, and reclaims who we are, and what African writing encompasses. 

More about this year’s winners:

Idza Luhumyo is a Kenyan writer with training in screenwriting and a background in law. Her artistic practice lies at the intersection of law, film, and literature. She is currently studying towards an MA in Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London. 

Hers is an intense, multi-layered story featuring a rain queen that invokes and upturns all the familiar tropes about drought, the hair of African women and its supposedly aphrodisiac powers, corruption and greed, love and betrayal. 

Mbozi Haimbe was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia, where she lived until her mid-twenties. Her story, ‘Madam’s Sister’ won the Africa region prize of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019, and a 2020 PEN America/Robert J Dau Prize. Mbozi has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She was awarded a Develop Your Creative Practice award by Arts Council England in 2020, and is currently working on her debut novel, an Afrofuturistic story based on the Makishi masquerade traditions of the North-western people of Zambia. A qualified social worker, Mbozi lives in Norfolk, UK, with her family.

Her story is a nail-biting account of a woman’s flight towards safety in a world made hideous by climate disruption; at the same time, it is a moving testament to connection, community, and the power of love. 

Alithnayn Abdulkareem is a development practitioner and writer based in Washington DC. She writes mostly opinion articles and personal essays, with the occasional short story to keep things interesting. An alumnus of Chimamada Adichie’s Farafina writers’ workshop, she has been published by Quartz, Ozy, Brittle Paper, Wasafiri, Transition, ID: New Short Fiction from Africa, and others. 

Her story uses flight from a collapsing earth to another planet as a vehicle for penetrating and original commentary on neocolonialism and the ‘exotic’, and the ways in which new hierarchies and patriarchies are invented. 

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