Makena Onjerika

Winner of the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing

Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika has been announced winner of the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story titled ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ published in 2017 in Wasafiri, a quarterly British literary magazine that publishes international contemporary writing. Makena takes home the prize amount of £10,000.

‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ is about a girl living on the streets of Nairobi and her efforts to survive and thrive.

Speaking about the winning story, the chair of the judging panel, Dinaw Mengestu, said that: “the winner of this year’s Caine Prize is as fierce as they come—a narrative forged but not defined by the streets of Nairobi, a story that stands as more than just witness. Makena Onjerika’s ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ 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”.

Makena was among five (5) authors shortlisted for this year’s prize: Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for ‘American Dream’, published in Red Rock Review (2016); Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for ‘Involution’, published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, co-published by Short Story Day Africa and New Internationalist (2017); Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’, published in The African Literary Hustle (2017); Makena Onjerika (Kenya) for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’, published in Wasafiri (2017); Wole Talabi (Nigeria) for ‘Wednesday’s Story’, published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016).

The judging panel: Dinaw Mengestu, journalist, novelist and MacArthur fellow (Chair); Lola Shoneyin, poet, novelist and director of Ake Arts and Book Festival; Ahmed Rajab, a former journalist with BBC and international public analyst; and, Henrietta Rose-Innes, novelist, short-story writer, and 2008 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.

Previous winners of the award include: Bushra al-Fadil (2017), Lidudumalingani (2016), Namwali Serpell (2015), Okwiri Oduor (2014), Tope Folarin (2013), Rotimi Babatunde (2012), NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Olufemi Terry (2010), EC Osondu (2009), Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), Mary Watson  (2006), Segun Afolabi (2005), Brian Chikwava (2004), Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (2003), Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Helon Habila (2001), Leila Aboulela (2000).

Submission guidelines for the Caine Prize can be accessed here:

A graduate of MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, Makena Onjerika currently lives in Nairobi where she is working on her novel.