Described as Africa’s leading literary award, the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing was yesterday awarded to Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde. He took home a cash prize of £10,000 at the awards dinner held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK, for his short story about Nigerian soldiers who fought in the Burma campaign during Worl War 2. The story entitled ‘Bombay’s Republic’ was published in ‘Mirabilia Review’.
The Chair of Judges, Bernardine Evaristo MBE, announced Rotimi Babatunde as the winner, lavishing praise on his winning entry: “Bombay’s Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.”
Other shortlisted writers were:
- Billy Kahora from Kenya for Urban Zoning
- Stanley Kenani from Malawi for Love on Trial
- Melissa Tandiwe Myambo from Zimbabwe for La Salle de Départ
- Constance Myburgh from South Africa for Hunter Emmanuel
Alongside Bernardine on the panel of judges this year are cultural journalist Maya Jaggi, Zimbabwean poet, songwriter and writer Chirikure Chirikure, Associate Professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC Samantha Pinto, and the Sudanese CNN television correspondent Nima Elbagir.
In addition to the again £10,000 cash prize, the winner of the Caine Prize will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The award will cover all travel and living expenses. The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2012 and events hosted by the Museum of African Art in New York in November 2012.
Rotimi Babatunde lives in Ibadan, Nigeria. He is presently working on novel about migration, love and choice.
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This article was first published on 3rd July 2012 and updated on July 5th, 2012 at 12:16 pm