Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013

Dear World,

Today marks an important day in the lives of writers in the Commonwealth region. Last year, a number of us submitted stories to be critiqued and judged against others in from Africa and beyond our sun-kissed borders. The pit was in not making the nomination list, but the peak was in seeing so many young people writing well.

As I am rather proud to be Kenyan, I will begin by mentioning the Kenyan nominee for the Commonwealth prize. In all honesty, I am keeping my extremeties and their digits crossed that the prestigious title does not go to Nigeria. No, it has nothing to do with the Harambee Stars. I think it’s time Eastern Africa got a little limelight; West Africa is still glowing from such names as Chinua Achebe (may his name and works be glued to our tongues and minds for as many years as mankind will remain in existence); Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – whose work brings up the deepest admiration and vilest envy in me; Familoni Olubumni – whose work flows easily, is beautifully crafted and takes on an angle of creativity like I have not seen before.

You can find Alexander’s story on the following link: http://akhatenje.blogspot.com/2012/07/fatima-saleh-by-alexander-ikawah.html?spref=tw. It is a typical story, a typical setting. What looks to me (and Richie Maccs) like one of those stories that everyone expects to read about. The writer is good with words – his choice of them, in description, beautiful placement and expression. He knows what he should about what he is writing – and at this point I would like to draw us all to how wonderfully many of us have discoloured Islam. At the risk of sounding cynical, the story was a tad plain and predictable, but the wordplay made up for it in leaps and bounds.

Alexander Ikawah, congratulations on this grand achievement. May your work become the next big thing that pushes Kenya into the literary limelight.

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