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Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo wins AKO Caine Prize for African Writing

Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo has been named this year’s winner of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story Five Years Next Sunday.

This makes Luhumyo the fifth Kenyan writer to win the award, the other previous winners being the late Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014) and Makena Onjerika (2018).

Ms Luhumyo, who beat 267 eligible entries in a record year of submissions, will also pocket Sh1.4million (£10,000). She will also be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology later this year by Cassava Republic Press.

Five Years Next Sunday, is a story about a young woman with the unique power to call the rain in her hair. Feared by her family and community, a chance encounter with a foreigner changes her fortunes, but there are duplicitous designs upon her most prized and vulnerable possession.

Speaking during the award ceremony that took place in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Okey Ndibe, Chair of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Judging Panel described Luhumyo’s story as ‘an incandescent story – its exquisite language wedded to the deeply moving drama of a protagonist whose mystical office invites animus at every turn.’

“What we liked about the story was the mystical office of the protagonist, who is both ostracised and yet holds the fate of her community in her hair. The dramatic tension in the story is so powerful and palpable that it’s like something you could cut with a knife,” Okey Ndibe said.

Luhumyo, is a well-known author whose works have been published by Popula, Jalada Africa, The Writivism Anthology, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, MaThoko’s Books, Gordon Square Review, Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, the New Internationalist, The Dark, and African Arguments.

Some of her works have also been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and the Gerald Kraak Award. She is the inaugural winner of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award (2020) and winner of the Short Story Day Africa Prize (2021).

The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual award for African creative writing. The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English.