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Let's use this space to speak of Authorme as an artistic community of writers.



Let's use this space to speak of Authorme as an artistic community of writers.

April 30, 2005

We are the winners!

(For Valentine Ukachukwu Umelo)

ByJohn Oryem (Sudan)

"It is unfortunate that none of us featured in the short list for Caine Prize this year," laments Anietie Isong to his friend David Lukudu.

"Well Isong, I have to congratulate your countrymen who dominated the prize this year," said Lukudu to his disappointed Nigerian friend.

It has taken time since Valentine Umelo submitted his piece for the competition; The Caine Prize for African Writing. He read Helon Habila's wining piece of 2001 and Monica Arac's Strange Fruit. The two stories were appealing for Umelo. Finally he said to himself.

"I have to write my piece convincingly to these people in Britain who are claiming to be masters of English. I too here in Nigerian am a master of that language."

Umelo perfected his short story several times before submitting it to Bruce Cook; his publisher.

"But I have written several of them; which one my God can I choose for Caine Prize?"

After an hour's appeal for divine intervention, he reached his hard choice. Like all contestants and would-be winners, Umelo turned off his computer and wished one more thing.

"I will be there to receive my prize in July." He said it to himself and went to sleep. He woke the following morning with better stories to enrich his best literary website Author-me. When he was at his usual writing table, one thought came across his mind.

"I will submit this one next year if I do not make it to the final list." Said the African writer; nicknamed by his colleagues New Achinue Achebe.

One cold morning near Kenyatta Avenue, Nyankami Miroro met his friend Ochillo Ouma from western Kenya. Miroro had some happiness flashing across his face. That happiness was clearly manifested in his smiles, made constantly to his fellow Kenyan.

"Ouma, I have to reach the very steps of my friends Yvonne Adhiambo Owour and Binyavanga Wainaina. They made us Kenyans proud. They won Caine Prize consecutively. Other Africans thought we did not have literary giants." Exclaimed the excited Miroro who had taken trouble not to worry about his work that morning. Ouma and Miroro both bought copies of Daily Nation; shortly after, They both fixed their eyes on their favorite columns.

After lots of proof reading, sending manuscripts, arranging posting and replying hundreds of inquiries, Bruce Cook set off on another prayerful journey. Like Jesus, after hard work (consoling, healing, bringing back to life, and preaching) he retreated under a jacaranda tree and prayed;

"Father, hear me,

last year you gave me Monica Arac de Nyeko

and Jackee Budeste.

They made me proud; their efforts attracted many unrecognized writers,

unknown authors who joined me Father.

Now Father, I have nineteen of the young fish I caught from Zambezi, Nile, Lake Victoria and that river you made in Nigeria, I mean the one whose water Chika Unigwe drank from

Let these sons and daughters of yours Father, increase in wisdom, popularity, perseverance and selflessness,


On his way home, just at his door steps, Bruce opened his arms wide and concluded his prayer;

"Let them not abandon me Father.

Give me also long life.

Ame-e-en my Lord.

It was a refreshing event after the great petition from Bruce Cook in many years since taking over the Cook Communications Network.

In a brief e-mail, David Lukudu notified his countrymen Oryem that he was breaking his writing career.

"I'm going to take part in rebuilding southern Sudan." He boldly said.

"I will leave my luxurious house in Nairobi." David ended mournfully. Oryem responded with excitement to his fellow Sudanese;

"Our presence at the Caine Prize is just enough David. If you come back from motherland, we shall know more about the results. We need not to worry; you and I did not study creative writing."

Two months' scene in southern Sudan left David paralyzed. The devastation and horror of two decades of war filmed in his sharp brains. As he went around the camps with his physician's stethoscope, examining many patients under a big mahogany tree, David exclaimed;

"Now I shall write more about Sudan. I feel I'm greatly inspired by what I have seen with my own eyes. It will be a good piece for next Caine Prize competition."

Brian Chikwava summoned Blessing Musariri and Tinashe Mushakavanhu in his lonely London apartment.

"Please, you must keep the crown of Caine Prize here in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe will have an audience with you if you win it. I mean if you both made it to the short list. He hasn't done it with me yet. I'm still in London. Eh, my career, music and writing. Zimbabwe now?" Urged Brian Chikwava. He was now persuading his fellow Zimbabweans to go back home. "You know, we have to keep the best brains in Africa. Don't be like the others who left their homeland for greener pastures. As for me, I'm still celebrating. My $ 15,000 plus other benefits still holds my legs here. Well, work hard." He continued encouraging them.

Brian Chikwava gave an envelope to be presented to Charles Mungoshi back in Zimbabwe.

Glaydah Namukasa never got tired opening the Caine Prize website each time she went to downtown Kampala to her favorite Internet cafe. She kept on seeing the usual old face of dreadlocked Brian Chikwava, standing proud with well-earned title. Glaydah whispered;

"Now I have submitted my best piece for the Africa's Booker Prize." She ate a tasty dish of matoke for her lunch that day. As Namukasa was eating, she looked inside that matoke dish and calmly said; "I know Doreen Baingana won't have you there in America."

It was an echo that penetrated each heart from coast to coast since the deadline, 30th January closed. Each one went to his or her inspirational source. One would imagine how he or she would be contacted by a strange or familiar person for the good news; "You made it to the short list of Caine Prize this year. Congratulations!!" It was a thought every one entertained, how he or she may reply; "Is it true, are you kidding? Me? Are you serious?" There were more questions than answers in each mind. Once more you memorized correctly your cell phone numbers. Just in case!

"How will the interview be?

Shall the local BBC journalist be at my compound to begin exposing me to the whole world?"

You heard how Monica Arac de Nyeko and Brian Chikwava spoke on African Perspective and other Arts programs last year. Shall it be me? It was the night of reminiscence when you went far, far back and began to trace your writing career. You remembered the writers who inspired you. The radio stations, magazines, books, events etc.

The race against time kept you on a high wave. You searched several literary websites. You were looking for reviews, comments, reading past winners from 2000 till 2004. The winning stories weren't as powerful as your submitted story. The judges are working on yours.

You thought; "my piece is the best ever written on earth." It was good therapy. You continued searching many sites to hear the good news. When you opened the Caine Prize website, immediately you got; "short listing in progress." You remained hopeful. You checked other sites for confirmation.

Suddenly, the Caine Prize short list appeared in front of you out of the blue. "But this site is not the official site of Caine Prize." You said in your heart. You ventured on to related sites. Just in front of you for the third time you found, inescapable; Tthis year’s Caine Prize short list!." Encouraging news began to filter. To console you, how to be a good loser. Another African elder heard your unhappiness of not being short listed for the Caine Prize despite great hope he had on you. He told you at once; "When a child falls, he looks forward; when an elder falls, he will look backwards." One day you will be the winner. We are all winners in this world. Then Bruce Cook, the publisher of Support Group for Unknown Authors and Writers, knowing how much he helped you, he only turned to you and said; "You can chew for a child, but you cannot swallow for him."


September 5, 2004

This weekend my wife and I visited the Georges Seurat exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago and, as with other such exhibitions, the museum stressed the accomplishments of this unique artist and his participation (and sometimes rejection) in relation to the other artists of his day. It's hard to believe as you now examine Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, the triumph of his short career.

In many ways AuthorMe writers are part of a community like the impressionists and neo-impressionists of Seurat's day. Presently, AuthorMe is no longer simply a display site for aspiring writers, although it is that without doubt. For example, AuthorMe has recently begun publishing works from various countries, especially in Africa, where governments have repeatedly taken advantage of innocent people, and some of our works now reflect these injustices, or they are love songs, a wish that the human condition in Africa and elsewhere might be more just.

But I call attention to our individual writers too, who are practicing and refining their art and craft. Presently, we have seen Kenneth Mulholland of Australia refine his venerable adventure story Varlarsaga, which is easily of the same magnitude as Lord of The Rings and other major accomplishments in fantasy and adventure. Beyond this, Ken in the past year has taken on a youthful and thoroughly enjoyable series called Black Eagle Girls, which is now readying for publication by Loranda Press. But, in addition to these solid accomplishments, Ken has what he calls his truly serious writings - those which he carries closest in his heart, and which he must feel are his truest artistic statements. Here we see Sencha, which he wrote last year, and left him breathless after his creation was done. And now, released today, we see The Girl with the Almost-Freckled Face. Read them, and your heart will carry you into another world, a literary one if not more, which is a unique statement not unlike La Grande Jatte in its inspiration and thrust.

- Bruce Cook (cookcomm@gte.net)


This year we were privileged to publish three literary creations from writers emerging from the prestigious FEMWRITE organization at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. It has been our privilege to submit these works for consideration in the Caine Prize for African Writing contest. As a result, these awards were earned by our authors...

Shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing...

Strange Fruit by Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda) (Submitted for the prize by AuthorMe Feb. 2004)

See article - The Guardian  (Lagos, Nigeria)

It’s evening in my dream. The Kitgum sun has disappeared behind the hills. Dry leaves crash under my bare feet as I race among the yaa trees at the foot of Kidi Guu hills, looking for Mwaka. Burnt tree stumps and thorn bushes let me through their sheltered trunks with a few scratches and cuts. The looming night falls upon the lush and short shrubs inch by inch. I am alone and frightened. I need to find my husband. I need to sniff that familiar fruity scent in his breath. I need to touch his unblemished face.


"Highly Commended" in  the Caine Prize

for African Writing...

Remember Atita, by Jackee Budesta Batanda (Uganda) (Submitted for the prize by AuthorMe Feb. 2004)

2003. The photo of my past lies in my hands with the edges torn. It’s brown with age. It doesn’t shine under the fluorescent light above the fading ‘Divine Mercy’ shop signpost. We are quite a number seated on tattered mats along the shop veranda. Further down the veranda, music is blaring from a transistor radio. I pass the photo to Okema who sits cross-legged. I’m trying to explain to him the reason I’ve travelled back to Gulu town to search for the girls in the photo. We sit on the veranda because it’s safer to spend the night in the town. The LRA rebels don’t cross to Gulu town. They restrict their activities to the villages....


What happened in Romania in 1989? Ask anybody from that country and you will touch a warm spot in their heart. Read our novel from Doina Horodniceanu The State of Normality. This is a historical novel to compare with Dr. Zhivago. Please compare it and write Doina with your thoughts.


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