Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beatrice Lamwaka - 2011 Caine Prize Nominee

Many writers can only dream of basking in glory for the continents top literary prize; the Caine Prize. This year Uganda was proud to have one of her writers, Beatrice Lamwaka, on the shortlist. She is the 3rd Ugandan to be shortlisted for the prize. Over 130 stories from 17 African countries were submitted but only 5 made the cut.

Her short story ‘Butterfly Dreams’ from the anthology ‘Butterfly Dreams and other short stories from Uganda’ was published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham (UK), 2010.
Butterfly Dreams is about a family that has been waiting for 5 years for their daughter Lamunu to return home after being kidnapped by the LRA rebels. Her family buried her spirit when word went out that she would not be returning home. But Lamunu is returned home though traumatised, changed but still determined to follow her dreams.

What does this mean for Beatrice? Getting shortlisted for the Caine Prize has given her confidence to declare that she is a writer by profession.
For now she wants to focus on her manuscript for a first novel. Writing short stories has helped her grow as a writer but now she is ready for even bigger things.
Beatrice has published a number of short stories and poems in different FEMRITE anthologies including ‘The Hair Cut’ her latest story in the new FEMRITE anthology ‘Never too Late’.

Beatrice Lamwaka in the FEMRITE resource center

A teacher by profession, she never really practiced teaching but instead opted to focus on her writing and doing research work. This is the second time that Beatrice has been shortlisted for a writing award. The first was for the PEN/Studzinski Literary Award for her story ‘The star in my Camp’.

According to her getting on the Caine Prize shortlist is as good as it gets because of the exposure given to African writers. Agents and publishers pick interest in your writing work.

Lamwaka is the Treasurer of Uganda Women Writers’ Association and a freelance writer with The Daily Monitor, ugpulse and the Global Press Institute. She is currently pursuing an MA in Human Rights at Makerere University where she also graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature.

Shortlisted along with Beatrice were: NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Tim Keegan (South Africa),  Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana), David Medalie (South Africa).
The Caine Prize, now in its 12th year is widely regarded as Africa’s leading literary award with a cash prize of 10,000 ritish pounds. It is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English  whether in Africa or elsewhere.

The prize was first awarded in 2000 and the winner was announced at the Zimbabwe book fair. This years’ winner was Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo, for her story ‘Hitting Budapest’.

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