News

Zambia's Namwali Serpell Wins The 2015 Caine Prize For African Writing

Zambian writer Namwali Serpell has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing.


Photo Credit: Peg Skorpinski (via The Caine Prize)

Zambian writer Namwali Serpell has been announced as the 2015 winner of  The Caine Prize For African Writing. Serpell received the honor and accompanying £10,000 cash prize for her short story, The Sack, during an awards ceremony held at Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries yesterday. Serpell, who is the first Zambian winner of the prize, was first shortlisted for the prestigious award in 2010 for her short story Muzungu.

The Sack, which was first published as part of the Africa39 anthology New Writing From Africa South of The Sahara, is a strange and dark tale dealing with loss, liberation, unrequited love and the bitter relationship between two old friends. Serpell was one of five African writers shortlisted for the award alongside Elnathan John, F.T Kola, Masande Ntashanga and the 2005 Caine Prize winner Segun Afolabi.

In the spirit of "mutiny," the UC Berkeley English professor announced that she will be splitting the cash winnings with her fellow nominees. "It is very awkward to be placed into this position of competition with other writers that you respect immensely," she told BBC Newsday. "You feel yourself put into a sort of American Idol or race-horse situation when actually, you all want to support each other."

Past winners of The Caine Prize include Leila Aboulela, Tope Folarin, Okwiri Oduor, NoViolet Bulawayo, and Binyavanga Wainaina. Read Serpell's award-winning story here.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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