We at Mawazo are extremely excited by and proud of the huge award our current workshop instructor, Jennifer Makumbi, won last week. The $165,000 Windham-Campbell prize was set up to “provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns”.

[Read Makumbi’s interview with the BBC]

Writing fiction can be a lonely and badly-paid task, especially for African writers, and so it is hugely encouraging to see that one of our own has been recognized and rewarded for her labor, skills and creativity. It makes us feel that we too can attain literary success at an international level without abandoning our particularly African themes, concerns and stylistic approaches.

I’m sure each of our participants in our current Writing the Novel workshop feels a fresh urge to keep pushing on with their novels-in-progress.

We asked Ms. Makumbi what she would like to say to aspiring African writers, in light of her award, and this is what she says:

“Write what you are dying to read rather than what you think people want to read. Make sure you enjoy writing it and, believe me, readers will enjoy it too.

Write /right on!

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