Lidudumalingani Mqombothi

South African writer Lidudumalingani Mqombothi has won the 2016 The Caine Prize for African Writing for his story ‘Memories we Lost’.

Described as Africa’s leading literary award, the Chair of Judges, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, announced Lidudumalingani as the winner of the £10 000 prize at a dinner held this evening on Monday, at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

‘Memories We Lost’ tells the emotionally charged story of a girl who acts as protector of her sister, whose serious mental-health problems cause consternation in a South African village. Her situation deteriorates as her care is entrusted to Nkunzi, a local man who employs traditional techniques to rid people of their demons.

Delia Jarrett-Macauley praised the story, saying, "The winning story explores a difficult subject - how traditional beliefs in a rural community are used to tackle schizophrenia. this is a troubling piece, depicting the great love between two young siblings in a beautifully drawn Eastern Cape. Multi-layered, and gracefully narrated, this short story leaves the reader full of sympathy and wonder at the plight of its protagonists".

Lidudumalingani is a writer, filmmaker and photographer. He was born in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, in a village called Zikhovane. Lidudumalingani has published short stories, non-fiction and criticism in various publications. His films have been screened at a number of film festivals.

The winner of the Caine Prize will be given the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to speak at the Library of Congress. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500. The winner is invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Storymoja in Nairobi and Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

The South African writer was shortlisted along with Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya) for ‘The Lifebloom Gift’, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’, Tope Folarin (Nigeria) for ‘Genesis’ published in Callaloo and Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe) for ‘At your Requiem’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You.

The panel of judges was chaired by Delia Jarrett-Macauley – member of the Caine Prize Council and judge for the 2007 Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of the literary biographyThe life of Una Marson 1905-1965, and of the Orwell prize-winning novel Moses, Citizen and Me (2005).

Alongside Delia on the panel of judges are acclaimed film, television and theatre actor, Adjoa Andoh; writer and founding member of the Nairobi-based writers’ collective, Storymoja, and founder of the Storymoja Festival, Muthoni Garland; Associate Professor and Director of African American Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Dr Robert J Patterson; and South African writer and 2006 Caine Prize winner, Mary Watson.

Last year the Caine Prize was won by Zambian writer Namwali Serpell. Namwali is an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley English department.

 

IOL, adapted from a press release