Ugandan writer scoops commonwealth award

Kampala- Yet again, a Ugandan hoisted the national flag high after scooping this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Miss Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist and poet based in the United Kingdom, convinced judges with her short story, Let’s Tell This Story Properly.

The story propelled her to becoming not only the regional winner for Africa but also outdid her other four challengers from Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The victory was announced at Kabira Country Club last Friday by revered novelist Romesh Gunesekera. Her winning comes with a bounty of 5,000 Pound Sterling (Shs22 million). The winning story revolves around a widow, who returns from Manchester to Uganda the body of her late husband and her two orphans to a family she never met.

The Short Story Prize is an annual award under the auspices of the Commonwealth Writers, an initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation, which unites all former British colonies, to use written word to affect social change globally. “This particular award is to give a podium for the appreciation and exposure of credible writers whose works speak for change in their jurisdictions,” said Ms Doreen Baingana, one of the judges for the award.

It is this script that caught, after rigorous debate, the approval of the seven judges. “The winning stories from each region boasted craft, intelligence and ambition. Choosing the overall winner felt like an impossible task. Jennifer Makumbi’s Let’s Tell This Story Properly significantly expanded our understanding of the possibilities of the short story form,” said Mr Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, chair of the Judging Panel.


Jennifer Makumbi is a novelist, poet and short story writer who lives in Manchester and holds a Phd in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster where she teaches the same. This is not the first award she receives for her penning though.

She went to Trinity College Nabbingo and thereafter got her first degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester.

When asked about her particularity on creative writing, she said, “It was my love for story telling that drove me to pursue creative writing professionally. Way back in (Trinity College) Nabbingo, I loved reading novels and retelling them to my mates in Luganda, with a comic twist to them. So it was only natural that I took it seriously.”

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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