Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Makena Onjerika at the 2018 Caine Prize ceremony. Image from WuzupNigeria via Google.

In an absolute act of authorial philanthropy, 2018 Caine Prize winner Makena Onjerika will be donating a tenth of her £10,000 prize money to street children in Kenya.

Onjerika, who is the fourth Kenyan to take the prize, won for her short story “Fanta Blackcurrant,” published in Wasafiri in 2017, in which a street child in Nairobi, who makes a living from sex trade, is caught stealing and is beaten by local criminals. The judges described “Fanta Blackcurrant” as “a narrative forged but not defined by the streets of Nairobi,” one which “presides over a grammar and architecture of its own making, one that eschews any trace of sentimentality in favour of a narrative that is haunting in its humour, sorrow and intimacy.”

Speaking to BBC, Onjerika said that the money will “help rehabilitate street children.” Onjerika said she chose to write about street children because “Kenyans – me included – do not see street kids as children. There are children, and then there are ‘chokora.'” “Chokora,” a derogatory Swahili term, means “street urchins.”

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

As for the rest of the money? “With the rest of the money I’ll buy a car,” she said. “Or maybe a motorcycle to get through traffic jams in Nairobi.”

This is not the first time a Caine Prize winner has shown generosity with their £10,000. In 2015, Namwali Serpell, the first Zambian to win the prize, shared hers with her fellow shortlisters, at £2,000 each. However, the meeting of literature and philanthropy peaks in Aminatta Forna’s astonishing Rogbonko Project, which we covered last year, where the acclaimed novelist has been helping a Sierra Leonean village to rebuild for the past 15 years.

Makena Onjerika will be winning more hearts with this.

READ “FANTA BLACKCURRANT”

CORRECTION:

A previous version of this report, based on a report by BBC, wrongly stated that Makena Onjerika will be donating “half” of her prize money for the rehabilitation. Onjerika has since tweeted to say that it is “a tenth” of the prize money—£1,000.

Tags: , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, literary journalist, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Transition, and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

In Love and Ashes | Writer-Filmmaker Umar Turaki’s Drama Series Stars Patience Ozokwor, with Soundtrack by 2Baba

umar turaki

Nigerian writer and filmmaker Umar Turaki’s new drama series, In Love and Ashes, has premiered. The series stars Nollywood icon […]

Poetry x Fashion | Attend a Class with Brunel Prize Winner Theresa Lola in London

poetry x fashion

Brunel Prize 2018 joint winner Theresa Lola will be teaching a class on poetry and fashion. The class will “explore […]

Tomi Adeyemi Narrates Frightening Encounter with Racist White Policemen

tomi adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi, author of the million-dollar Children of Blood and Bone trilogy, shared to her 43,000 Twitter followers an encounter […]

BookShyBooks Lists 12 Female Zimbabwean Writers You Should Know and Read

zim lit women - bookshy

BookShyBooks blog, run by Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed, has compiled a list of 12 female Zimbabwean writers and their works. The list […]

For Summer Reading, Barack Obama Lists Some of His Favourite Books by African Writers

obama cnbc

Former US president Barack Obama has listed some of his favourite literature books by Africans ahead of his visit to […]

Watch Trailer | The Poets is a Documentary Film Celebrating Niyi Osundare and Syl Cheney-Coker’s Friendship

the poets - poster

The Poets, a new documentary film, celebrates the friendship between the Nigerian poet Niyi Osundare and the Sierra Leonean poet […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.