Ugandan Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has won first prize in Kwani?’s Manuscript Project with her novel titled The Kintu Saga.
Second place was taken by Saah Millimono from Liberia with his novel One Day I Will Write About This War.
And third place went to Timothy Kiprop Kimutai from Kenya for his book called The Water Spirits. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of seven that also included:
Ayobami Adebayo, Stay with Me (Nigeria)
Ayesha Harruna Attah, Saturday’s People (Ghana / US)
Stanley Gazemba, Ghettoboy (Kenya)
Toni Kan, The Carnivorous City (Nigeria)
There was initially a long list of 30 which included a novel from Botswana by Eden Nthebolan titled Homebrew.
The winner, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is currently living in UK working on a PhD in creative writing.
The synopsis of the winning manuscript as posted on the Kwani? website is:
At dawn, on Monday the 5th of January 2004 in Uganda, the curse of Kintu strikes. Kamu Kintu is brutally murdered by a mob in Bwaise.
Three months later, ten men involved in his murder are found dead, their bodies strewn along Bwaise’s main street.
The story then travels back to 1750, to the beginning of the curse in the old kingdom of Buganda.
The Kintu Saga follows the misfortunes of the Kintu clan over 250 years, blending Ganda oral tradition, forms of myth, folktale and history with biblical elements.
The novel explores ideas of transgression, curse and perpetuity, looking back at the history of Buganda Kingdom and tracing birth of modern Uganda.
The winner wins 300,000 Kenyan shilling (about P3000) and hers and the second and third place manuscripts will be published.
According the Kwani?: “In addition Kwani? will publish manuscripts from across the shortlist and longlist, including the three winning manuscripts, as well as partnering with regional and global agents and publishing houses to create high profile international publication opportunities.
When the call for submissions was sent out last year, the prize was billed as a one-off literary prize.
Judges included high profile writers such as Helon Habila and Jamal Mahjoub as well as former deputy editor of Granta, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Chairman of Kenyatta University’s Literature Department Dr. Mbugua wa Mungai, and editor of Zimbabwe’s Weaver Press Irene Staunton.
Chair of Judges, Jamal Mahjoub said:
“All three titles chosen by the judges display an urge to engage with the complexities of modern day Africa.
They tackle issues such as civil war, the struggle against poverty, and the continent’s historical heritage, among other themes.
As a manuscript award this prize naturally seeks to focus less on finding a perfect finished product than work which shows literary promise as well as a breadth and depth of vision. The winner and two runners up all reflect these values.”
South African Sunday Times Prize Winners
On Saturday 29 June, this year’s Sunday Times Prize winners were announced.
The Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize for a work of nonfiction went to Redi Tlhabi for her book Endings and Beginnings.
The book details her painful journey back to her death-marred childhood, a journey in which she eventually finds peace and allows her demons to rest.
Redi grew up in the ’80s in Orlando, Soweto where her father – her hero – was violently murdered, his body discovered on the street, with one eye removed.
The perpetrators were never found, and the neighbourhood continued to talk about how he had to be buried without his eye.
Endings and Beginnings is Redi’s quest to find out the truth about the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.
The Sunday Times Fiction Prize went to Karen Jayes for her novel For the Mercy of Water set in the near future times when water has become a scarce commodity guarded by armed men.
The synopsis from the Penguin website says: “When an unexpected rain leads a group of water security guards to a town long since thought abandoned, they find an old woman, identified only as Mother, and four girls in a classroom.
A journalist, two aid workers and a doctor arrive soon afterwards, and what they discover defies ordinary explanation.
When strange, dislocated fragments of Mother’s story appear in the media, a young writer is intrigued enough to set off on a journey to find her, a journey that will take her deep into the heart of a broken country in search of a truth that no one wants uncovered.”
On the same night Nadine Gordimer was awarded the inaugural Sunday Times Lifetime Achievement Award.