I attended my first Africa Writes this year and was saddened that the event will now be every other year. It was a very instructive, exciting and fantastic networking event. I had never felt so at ‘home’ as I did at this event. I wish it continued every year and look forward to being there in 2021. Though the event was in July, I will do some highlights and share photos.
Caine Shortlisted Authors 2019
I got to listen to the authors talk about their short stories before I read this book. I was intrigued by the excerpts read by each writer read and bought a copy.
My two top Stories
It was indeed a good buy! Each story was well written and touched me in different ways. I decided to focus on my best two.
Skinned by Lesley Nneka Arimah, who went on to win Caine African Prize 2019 and All Our Lives by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor.
Skinned by Lesley Nneka Arimah –
This story was, tight, incisive and the idea disturbing especially if you were a woman.
Her story was about a world in which women had to go naked or unclothed until they were ‘claimed’ in marriage by a man. Girls from wealthy homes were fortunate as their parents’ fortune bought them covering. Meaning they did not have to go naked. Girls from poor homes however had to go about naked and suffer through ogling by men.
Our main character, Ejem, was an unclaimed older woman from a poor home. As an unclothed older woman she became an object of shame in her business, her interaction with other women including her best friend.
She became a point of ridicule for younger colleagues who were married and clothed. She was also a source of discomfort for her best friend who came from a wealthy home and was married.
Without throwing in spoiler it was a good story and touched a raw nerve. I was indignant and felt helpless just reading what Ejem had to go through.
All Our Lives by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor
Tochukwu’s story captured the lives of poor village men who migrated to cities to seek their fortune and realised that city life was not easy. They then turned into online fraudsters and gigolos conning women and men out of their hard-earned cash.
Tochukwu went into the heart of what could drive scam letters that you might see in your inbox inviting you to fund a corrupt politician or so many hundreds of others.
It is the reality of desperate men who left hopeful and dependent relatives behind in the village.
I love short stories but putting aside my preference for this I think the book is worth buying as the other 3 stories were equally as brilliant.