The writers won the prize for their joint short story, A Soul of Small Places.
By Hope Ibiale
Senegalese writers, Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo, have been announced as the winners of the 2023 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing. The writers won the prize for their joint short story, A Soul of Small Places.
A Soul of Small Places makes history as the first jointly conceived work to ever win the literary prize and the first story from Senegalese writers to win the prize.
The winners were pulled from a shortlist of five authors. Diene and Diallo will walk away with a cash prize of £10,000 and their work will be featured in the 2023 Caine prize anthology, This Tangible Thing and Other Stories. The other shortlisted writers Yejide Kilanko, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Ekemini Pius, and Yvonne Kusiima will receive £500 and also feature in the anthology.
This year’s panel of judges was led by Zimbabwean Law professor, Fareda Banda, alongside Ivorian literary activist, Edwige-Renée Dro, Kadija George Sesay, a Sierra Leonean/British scholar; British-Nigerian author and editor, Jendella Benson; and Somali-British writer and poet, Warsan Shire.
While speaking about the winners, Banda felt the collaborative work spoke “powerfully, but not didactically, to one of the pressing global issues of our time.” “It reminds us too of the power of love in all its forms,” Banda added. “The winning story leaves a lasting impression and invites readers to return to it.”
Mame Bougouma Diene is a Franco-Senegalese American humanitarian and a spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society. His works have been published in Omenana, Galaxies Magazine, Brittle Paper, EscapePod, and many others. His co-author, Woppa Diallo, is a human rights advocate and feminist activist. She is also the founder of L’Association pour le Maintien des Filles à l’Ecole (AMFE).
The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual literary award created to bring African writing to a large audience. The award was named in honour of Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker Plc. In addition to awarding outstanding African writers, the AKO Caine Prize also connect African writers through public events and the Caine Prize writers’ workshop.