The Caine Prize for African Writing will return to Zimbabwe in its fifteenth year to hold its annual workshop this month. The inaugural Caine Prize was awarded to Leila Aboulela in 2000, at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare.
Thirteen writers from seven African countries will convene at the Leopard Rock Hotel for twelve days (21 March – 2 April) to write, read and discuss work in progress and to learn from two experienced writers, Nii Parkes and Henrietta Rose-Innes who will act as tutors and animateurs.
This year's participants include four 2013 shortlisted writers; Abubakar Ibrahim (Nigeria), Elnathan John (Nigeria), Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) and Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone) and nine other promising writers; Martin Egblewogbe (Ghana), Abdul Adan (Somalia), Clifton Gachagua (Kenya), Nkiacha Atemnkeng (Cameroon) and Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Philani Nyoni, Bella Matambanadzo, Lawrence Hoba and Bryony Rheam from Zimbabwe.
During the workshop, the writers will be expected to write a short story for inclusion in the 2014 Caine Prize anthology, which will be published by New Internationalist on 1 July 2014 and subsequently by seven co-publishers in Africa. Each year the stories conceived at the workshops are automatically entered for the following year's Prize.
The primary supporter of this year's workshop is the Beit Trust. Supplementary funding is provided by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Exotix, Cambria and the British Council.
Dr Lizzy Attree commented on the significance of holding the workshop in Zimbabwe this year:
“The Caine Prize is delighted to be back in Zimbabwe for its twelfth workshop. The success of NoViolet Bulawayo has inspired so many writers and we are keen to nurture talent both at the workshop and by visiting local schools.”
The programme will include a visit to local senior schools, giving students the opportunity to interact with the writers.
The workshop will also incorporate two public events in Harare; the first in collaboration with the British Council will be held at Harare City Library on 1st April. It will include a discussion about contemporary African literature after which there will be opportunities to meet the writers and purchase signed copies of the anthology from AmaBooks, over a complimentary glass of wine.
The second event, sponsored by Meikles Mega Market and Meikles Foundation, will be held the following day at 10am at Tambira hub in the new Meikles Mega Market. The open forum entitled “Caine Prize Writers in the Supermarket” will be chaired by Tinashe Mushakavanhu, and is free for the public to attend. The writers will also be treated to a surprise tour of Meikles Hotel.
The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An “African writer” is normally taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.
The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman and Ellah Allfrey OBE is the Deputy Chairperson.
The stories written at Caine Prize workshops are published annually alongside the Prize's shortlisted stories by AmaBooks (Zimbabwe), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), FEMRITE (Uganda), Jacana Media (South Africa), Kwani? (Kenya), New Internationalist (UK) and Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana). Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.
Eleven workshops have been held to date, one a year from 2003, four of them in South Africa, four in Kenya, and one in Ghana, Cameroon and Uganda. The 2013 workshop was held in Uganda and further workshops are planned elsewhere in Africa in the coming years.
The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Miles Morland, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, Weatherly International plc, China Africa Resources, Exotix and CSL Stockbrokers. Other funders include the DOEN Foundation, The Beit Trust, British Council, The Lennox and Wyfold Foundation, the Royal Over-Seas League and Kenya Airways.
Previous winners are Sudan's Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde (2012) and Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013).