Writer, storyteller extraordinaire [& chartered accountant]

Peter Nawa

Some people are skilled writers. Others are gifted storytellers. Peter Nawa is both.
With several awards and a book under his name, meet one of Zambia’s literary raw talent. His short story, A degree of alone shortlisted for the 2018 Kalemba prize is in one word, incredible! If you haven’t read it yet, do so as a matter of urgency – its downloadable here.

A degree of alone tells a story of Jojo, a first-grader who discovers he is different on the first day at school. A heart-rending story – beautiful, sad and funny all in one. It explores with subtlety the inherent discrimination and isolation of others by society because they are different.

“Jojo sat in awkward silence, trying to figure out what to do next. He had never seen so many children in one space before” writes Nawa. “Can we see your hands?” a girl with thick braids asked. Jojo found this request odd but somehow found himself stretching his hands toward the band of girls, as if waiting to receive a birthday present.”

Nawa, an alumnus of UNZA and University of Sussex, is also a Chartered Accountant. He runs a blog – Diary of a Frustrated Brotha – discussing mental illness, gender violence, and alcoholism among others. His book Hired – Find the Job, Keep the Job and Quit the Job – is available on Amazon.

Asked about his writing influences, “I would say it’s my father, who encouraged me to read from an early age. Then from there, I tried to write stories similar to what I was reading. Also, the books I read influence my writing” he said.

A John Grisham enthusiast “His novels almost made me study law. The way he weaves his stories always intrigues me.”

He names Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart by as the book that left an indelible mark on him.

Nawa is working on his first novel.

Sampa Musaba, a young writer to watch in 2018 and beyond

Sampa Musaba

At 17, Sampa punches above her literary weight. Her story, The Mango Tree, is a must read and is downloadable here

A student at Crested Crane Academy, Sampa is a young literary talent to watch out for and we at Kalemba couldn’t be more proud to have discovered her.

Her story beat more than 300 entries to make it to the top six.

“Everisto did not like the person he had become. He didn’t like how he could no longer smile. The unexpected turns had dumped his soul that life had taken on him. Regret and the guilt of regretting hung heavy on his shoulders” she writes.
Her story centers around a young couple struggling with a past they can’t seem to shake off.

In an interview with Kalemba Prize, Sampa shared her writing and influences.

Tell us about yourself –
I am 17 years old, the last born of three children, all girls. I grew up in Namibia, Windhoek and went to school there, before moving to Pretoria, South Africa. We returned to Zambia in 2014, and I am currently in my final year of high school at Crested Crane Academy.

What does writing mean to you?
Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. When I was nine, if my memory serves me right, my elder sister and I wrote a story – Sue’s Birthday – it had so many errors and lacked a proper story-line and strong characters, but I think it formed the building blocks of what I write today. Since then I have written many speeches, stories, and other pieces of writing.

What influences your writing?
When it comes to writing, specifically storytelling, the various cultures I have been exposed to influence me greatly. I often tackle issues of race, acceptance, behavior, and betrayal through my characters. Writers like Khaled Hosseini, the author of the best-selling book – A Thousand Splendid Suns – inspire me much. He produces masterpiece after masterpiece, and his consistency is something I admire. His work deserves the praise it receives and more.

What has been your most unforgettable read?
A book that has and will always stand out for me is Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. It is the first book of four, and she delivers an excellent and gripping story. What I admire most is the strength of her characters.

Why do you write?
Writing is a gift, and I feel blessed to have it. I see this gift as a way of expressing myself. To be able to make characters and have each of them carry a piece of you and see how each element of yourself affects the other is interesting.

What does it mean to be shortlisted?
It is more than I could have ever imagined. I never thought I’d make it this far and I am genuinely grateful for this platform. If it weren’t for the competition, the story I submitted might never have been told.

 

Mali Kambandu wins inaugural Kalemba prize

Mali Kambandu

Mali Kambandu has won the inaugural Kalemba Short Story Prize for her short story, described as “gripping and beautifully told’ by Judges.

The $1000 award is for the best work of original and unpublished short fiction written in English.

Kambandu, won for The hand to hold, which can be downloaded here. The story centers around a middle class family whose fragile bond is threatened by the resurfacing of their former house maid. It weaves the themes of class, loyalty, sacrifice and love in contemporary Zambia.
“She looks around the table and can barely remember a happy moment with these women who are helping her plan the happiest moments in her life.” She writes “Family meals are virtually non-existent, but the dining table is the centre of their home”.

A graduate of Huntingdon College, Pennsylvania, Kambandu was exposed to literature from an early age “My parents bought us many books – classics and pop culture novels – and encouraged me, my brother and three sisters to read” she said. “At a young age, I read books which my older sisters were reading – novels by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison”. But it was at high school where she read her most cherished book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Winning the prize, she said, is an honour and affirmation. “The fact that it’s a Zambian award makes it so much more meaningful” said Kambandu, who will be presented with the award at a special ceremony to be held in Lusaka next month.

Kambandu’s story beat five others to win the prize including by prolific and award winning writer Peter Nawa, A degree of Alone,17year old Sampa Musaba’s The Mango Tree and Kabwe based Andrew Nguvu’s God of the mind. Others are The legacy of Moombe by Mutinta Nanchengwa (happy birthday) and A broken road in Utopia by Livingstone based writer Chanda Chongo. A total of 317 stories competed for the 2018 Kalemba Prize.

The judging panel, chaired by Kenyan novelist and Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, described the story as “a dark, yet gripping read, a surprising, beautifully told story that centers the voices that we often think of as living on the margins” said the judges “We were moved by this story about domestic workers and the ties that bind them to the very same families that discard them. Ngugi was joined on the panel by award winning Zambian writer Namwali Serpell – winner of the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing; blogger, scholar and founder of the influential Brittlepaper.com Ainehi Edoro and the inimitable Mulenga Kapwepwe, Zambian writer and cultural icon.

Kambandu had a stint writing screenplays in the US before returning to Zambia a few years ago. She has written short films, documentaries and feature films, including Ulendo wa Rose, Old-time Love, Long-time Love and The President’s Job Description.

She works and lives in Lusaka with her husband, two kids, two dogs, toys and plenty of books. When not writing, she is reading stories to her children.

The Kalemba Prize is a home-grown initiative celebrating Zambian writing. It is funded and administered by Ukusefya WORDS, publishers of the national bestselling book Insoselo na Mapinda.

The 2019 Kalemba Prize will open later in the year.

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2018 KSSP shortlist announcement

The winner of the 2018 Kalemba Short Story Prize will be announced on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
The Prize comes with USD1000 cash.

In no particular order, the six final entries are:
1. A broken road in utopia – Chanda Chongo
2. A degree of alone – Peter Nawa
3. God of the mind – Andrew Nguvu
4. The mango tree – Sampa Musaba
5. A hand to hold – Mali Kambandu
6. The legacy of Moombe – Mutinta Nanchengwa

The judges described the short listed stories as “gripping, lyrical, exciting, at times dark but lovely” all in all showcasing “raw talent” as they deal with love, alienation, betrayal, race, contamination and various forms of resistance.

The judges – a panel of four internationally acclaimed and award winning authors, publishers and scholars -are Mukoma wa Ngugi, Namwali Serpell, Ainehi Edoro and Mulenga Kapwepwe.


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Announcing the KSSP 2018 shortlist

Congratulations to our six writers for making the short-list.

The judges described the short listed stories as “gripping, lyrical, exciting, at times dark but lovely” all in all showcasing “raw talent” as they deal with love, alienation, betrayal, race, contamination and various forms of resistance.

The judges – a panel of four internationally acclaimed and award winning authors, publishers and scholars -are Mukoma wa Ngugi, Namwali Serpell, Ainehi Edoro and Mulenga Kapwepwe.

In no particular order, the six final entries are:

1. A broken road in utopia – Chanda Chongo
2. A degree of alone – Peter Nawa
3. God of the mind – Andrew Nguvu
4. The mango tree – Sampa Musaba
5. A hand to hold – Mali Kambandu
6. The legacy of Moombe – Mutinta Nanchengwa

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Kalemba Short-Story Prize 2018 longlist

Kalemba Short-Story Prize 2018 longlist

Congratulations to those who have made it on this List
Our sincere gratitude and love to every single entrant, including those whose names do not appear on the long-list. Do not stop writing, KSSP 2019 will be even bigger.

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Down to 50 entries

Although we are running beyond our timeline, we have made significant progress. Its tempting to give a date, but we will resist. What we can tell you for sure, is that 78 percent of the work has been done.

We understand the anxiety and even frustration by entrants, but it will be worth it.
For this, we sincerely apologize, and are learning lessons which will improve the administration of the 2019 and future prizes.

That being said, we have ensured that each entry, each story has been given the best shot at being selected to the next stage through a meticulous and vigorous process using a set criteria.

We are down to 50 entries from 317. Fifty entries; each unique, strong with an equal chance to advance to the next stage.

We are now busy with the long-list of 30. We will be publishing the 30 long-listed entries here and other platforms. We will also communicate directly to each of the 30 entrants.

The prize remains USD1000 cash to the winner.

Then, we have an exciting development which we will announce together with the short-list.

Twalumba, once more, for your patience. If you have questions, issues (not addressed in this update) please ask.

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