Kenyan Makena Onjerika wins 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing

A screen grab of Makena Onjerika taken from the Caine Prize website.

What you need to know:

  • The story was published in Wasafiri in 2017.
  • The prize comes with a £10,000 award.

Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika has won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrant”, beating four other finalists.

The prize comes with a £10,000 (Sh1.3 million) award.

The story was published in the 2017 Spring edition of Wasafiri, a UK literary magazine.

Makena was announced the winner at an award dinner on July 2 by Dinaw Mengestu, the chairman of the judges.

"Fanta Blackcurrant" follows the story of a street girl, Meri, who wants to always have a Fanta Blackcurrant to drink.

It captures the street life, and Meri and other street girls doing what they have to do to survive. It is told from the perspective of another street girl using English words as spoken in a sort of street lingo.

Makena is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confusions and Wasafiri. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

The shortlist was announced in May and included four other finalists: Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria), Stacy Hardy (South Africa), Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) and Wole Talabi (Nigeria).

The 2017 award was won by Sudanese writer and poet Bushra al-Fadil for his short story "The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away".

Other winners in the past seven competitions are: South Africa's Lidudumalingani (2016), Zambia’s Namwali Serpell (2015), Kenya's Okwiri Oduor (2014), Nigeria’s Tope Folarin (2013), Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde (2012), Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2011) and Sierra Leone’s Olufemi Terry (2010).

Kenyans Yvonne Adhiambo Oduor and Binyavanga Wainaina won the award in 2003 and 2002, respectively.