Jekwu Anyaegbuna Wins Commonwealth Regional Short Story Prize for 2012
Jekwu Anyaegbuna

“There was a public bed situated at the centre of a market in a remote village in Africa. The bed could kill; yet every villager, male or female, fought like a lion to lay his/her back on this bed every year. Whoever succeeded in sleeping on this famous furniture overnight became a servant in the king’s mother’s fortress.  The Commonwealth competition is this bed, and I am immensely thrilled to have won for Africa….


Nigeria’s Jekwu Anyaegbuna wins 2012 Commonwealth prize


The list of Commonwealth prize winners, for each of the five regions, has been released. The winner for the African Region is Jekwu Anyaegbuna for his story, Morrison Okoli (1955-2010).

His commonwealth story is about Africans in the Diaspora, this time, a Nigerian who spent several years away from home. But Morrison lived a shady life; he was into crime, and his story is told as a flashback, after his corpse had been brought to a cemetery for burial back home in Nigeria.

Jekwu Anyaegbuna and Chimamanda Adichie
(L-R) Jekwu Anyaegbuna , 2012 Commonwealth African region prize winner and Chimamanda Adichie, winner of the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for fiction

The exquisite angle to Morrison Okoli (1955-2010) is that it is told in a way that is not only creative, fascinating, but shocking for both the quality of imageries employed, and the mind of the author at work. In this story, as in many of his works, Anyaegbuna makes symbols and imageries speak, carry his  narration forward, carry it to the reader’s mind, more than words.

Jekwu has a style of writing that has always stood each of his stories out even among the 2009 class of students that attended the annual Farafina Writing Workshop organised by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, winner of the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

While commenting on Jekwu’s name appearing on the short story shortlist earlier on, Adichie had said, “I’m going to be presenting the awards at the Hay festival…and I think I might just cry if Jekwu wins. This is exactly why I wanted to do this workshop, to let Nigeria see our talent, to let the world see our talent.”

Prize winner for other  Commonwealth regions are: Asia, Anushka Jasraj, India, Radio Story;  Canada and Europe,  Andrea Mullaney, UK, The Ghost Marriage;  Caribbean, Diana McCaulay, Jamaica, The Dolphin Catcher;  Pacific, Emma Martin, New Zealand, Two Girls in a Boat.

Jekwu is a graduate of the University of Ilorin, and his short stories and poems have appeared in several literary journals in the United States and the UK including Ambit, Orbis, Other Poetry, The Journal, Bow-Wow Shop, Eclectica Magazine, Atticus Review, Yuan Yang Journal, The Talon Magazine, Dark Lady Poetry, Asinine Poetry, Vox Poetica, Breadcrumb Scabs, Haggard and Halloo, New Black Magazine, Pattaya Poetry Review, dcomP Magazine, Tipton Poetry Journal, Obsession, and Black Heart Magazine.

Jekwu lives, works and writes in Lagos. The overall winner shall be announced in June.
Source: Vanguard, 27th May 2012.