Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Jennifer Makumbi wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014

The overall winner for the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is Ugandan writer Jennifer Makumbi. The East African was awarded her prize at a glittering ceremony on Friday evening in Kampala, Uganda by novelist and short story writer Romesh Gunesekera.

The winning story is about a grieving widow who arrives at Entebbe Airport from Manchester with her husband’s coffin, but events take such a dramatic turn that she must relinquish her widowhood and fight.

The author took her time to speak to Ellah Allfrey on the morning after the win and she gave her views on many things. They included her struggle to get her work out there – her first book The Kintu Saga has taken over a decade to see the light of day. She also gives her thoughts on a topic I most hate where literature from this part of the world is concerned, “Uganda as a literary desert” prompted by Ms Allfrey.

This is a question that all people doing interviews on literature from East Africa should be banned from asking. Taban Lo Liyong made the case for a “literary desert” where the literature from this part of the world. Do you know when this statement was made? 1969. 19 flipping 69!!!

Since then the East African region has written a storm. From Meja Mwangi in the 1970s to Doreen Baingana in the 2000s the quality and quantity of the prose coming from this part of the world can shock you. Especially if you hear some random person who should know better referring to this part of the world as ever have been referred to as a literary desert. Its only these people who perpetuate this lie. Here is the correct answer to such lazy questions in future my people;

Interviewer: Kenya and Uganda has been described as a literary desert. Do you think your book shows that this is coming to an end?

Novelist: I spit upon your question you sound bite seeking interviewer. *spits”


P.s. Note to self. Find the paper where this “literary desert” nonsense was born and debunk it. Nimechoka.


10 responses to “Jennifer Makumbi wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014”

  1. […] when she entered for this prize and to her pleasant surprise went home with both regional and international Commonwealth Prize. This could be you… Except that with an African winning this year will be they […]

  2. […] Commonwealth Writers (CW) are the good folks who are behind the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for fiction which recently had its shortlist for the 2015 best stories and had Jennifer Makumbi winning in 2014. […]

  3. […] The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction and open to all citizens in the Commonwealth. Previous winners of the Africa regional prize are Jekwu Anyaegbuna (2012), Julian Jackson (2013), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), Akwaeke Emezi (2017), and Efua Traoré (2018). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the only African to win the global prize. […]

  4. […] (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), Akwaeke Emezi (2017), Efua Traoré (2018), and Mbozi Haimbe (2019). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won the global prize in […]

  5. […] Project in 2013. Her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly won the regional (Africa) and Global Commonwealth Short story prize 2014. Her short story collection Manchester Happened (for the UK/Commonwealth publication) and Let’s […]

  6. […] for her novel Kintu, and winning the Commonwealth Prize at both the African regional level and international level for her story Let’s Tell This Story […]

  7. […] Akwaeke Emezi (2017), Efua Traoré (2018), Mbozi Haimbe (2019) and Innocent Chizaram Ilo (2020). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won the global prize in […]

  8. […] Prize. For her short story “Let’s Tell this Story Properly” she received the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2014 and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction followed in 2018. In 2020, her novel The First Woman was […]

  9. […] win the prize. He becomes the second African writer to win the global prize after Ugandan Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi in […]

  10. […] Chizaram Ilo (2020), Rémy Ngamije and Roland Watson-Grant (2021), and Ntsika Kota (2022). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won the global prize in […]

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