2019 Kalemba Eligibility & entry rules


Please read eligibility and entry rules carefully

Opening date
15 October – 15 December 2018
Note: All entries are through this online form which will be activated on 15 Oct & automatically deactivated on 15 Dec.

About the Prize

  1. The Kalemba Short Story Prize is an annual award for unpublished short fiction administered and funded by Ukusefya WORDS.
  2. The prize is open to Zambian nationals only, including those living outside Zambia.
  3. The judging panel comprise authors, publishers and editors.
  4. The winner will receive USD1000.
  5. The winner will be announced in May 2019 at a ceremony in Lusaka.Eligibility
  6. Entrants must be Zambian citizens (including those resident outside Zambia)Entry rules
  7. Entries must be made by the writer.
  8. Entries are accepted via online form
  9. The deadline for receipt of entries is STRICTLY 15 December 2018.
  10. Only one entry per writer may be submitted for the 2019 KSSP
  11. The story must be the entrant’s own work.
  12. The story must be original and should not have been published anywhere in full or in part before 1 May 2019 including in an anthology, magazine, book, newspaper and online.
  13. Entries previously submitted elsewhere are not eligible.
  14. Entries should be submitted in English. Entries in a Zambian language are only eligible with English translation submitted by the writer.
  15. Entries must be between 2000-5000 words. (Entries exceeding word limit will automatically be disqualified.
  16. Entries should be submitted in a PDF or Word document, preferably PDF, saved under title of the story.
  17. The author’s details should be included on the entry form. They must not be given anywhere on the uploaded document. All entries are judged anonymously.
  18. All entries should be submitted in Arial 11 point font and 1.5 line spacing. No handwritten entries.
  19. The story should be fiction. There are no restrictions on setting, genre or theme.
  20. Entrants agree as a condition of entry that Ukusefya WORDS may publicise a story that has been entered or shortlisted for the Prize.
  21. Copyright of each story remains with the writer. Ukusefya WORDS will have the unrestricted right to publish the winning or any stories including for promotional purposes.
  22. The winner will be expected to take part in publicity activities.
  23. For any queries on entry or eligibility not covered above, please email info@ukusefya.com for clarification before submitting an entry. Frivolous queries, including on what is already covered in eligibility and rules will attract NO response.

You can download the guidelines HERE

A riveting page-turner – God of the mind


One of the top stories from the 2018 Kalemba Prize is God of the Mind. Read it here
Andrew Nguvu weaves a multilayered thriller with effortless wit, imagination, and honesty.
A thought-provoking page-turner, God of the Mind, is at the centre of contemporary Zambian culture and religion.
Nguvu, a larger than life personality, masterfully and fearlessly tackles faith, religion, God, and reason through the lens of a pastor and his family, plagued by a devastating epidemic.

“It was a rainy night in October; at the junction of Chilimbulu road and Mosi-o-tunya road, the stage was set, and the Woodlands Stadium in the densely populated suburb of Woodlands was bursting at the seams with ecstatic crowds that gathered for the themed Zambia Miracle Healing Night,” writes Nguvu.
“Large crowds thronged the stadium as people clamored for the tight space not wanting to miss a touch from God. Amid the euphoria, prophet Sylvester Chishimba, trotted up the stage, raising the dynamic microphone he shouted, ‘Zambia you are blessed!’”

Nguvi, an avid reader, started writing as a teenager. He lists among his writing influences, Mwila Readith Muliyunda (RIP), Niccolo Machiavelli, Jim Collins, Gilbert Banda, Haruki Murakami, Arther Golden, Eric Ries, JK Rowling and Dan Brown. The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, is one of his all-time favourite reads.
The Kabwe based writer is an alumnus of Mulungushi University and a seasoned entrepreneur with an enviable portfolio ranging from wildlife ranching, crocodile conservation, crop farming to livestock rearing, goat and crocodile leather tanning. Others include fish farming, hospitality and accommodation.

Kalemba Prize is proud to be associated with this talented storyteller.

The most lyrical and poetic writer of them all

Chanda Chongo, writer – A broken road in Utopia

A broken road in Utopia is arguably the most lyrical and poetic entry in the 2018 Kalemba Short Story Prize.

It’s one thing to lace a story with a touch of poetry, but a whole different ball game to pen an entire tale in lyrical poetic prose without losing the storyline. 20 year old Chanda Chongo does just that with his beautiful and heart-rending short-story, A broken road in Utopiareadable here.

Chongo weaves a compelling narrative of a young boy whose life turns upside down after the loss of his love; his mother, followed by his idol; his father. Uprooted from his village and confronted with a new life in the city – streets – he relies on his father’s wisdom to survive.

“We did not know much about school in my village; education was a ghost that journeyed beyond our mango-tree fence. Traditional teachings and superstitions were much more relevant to our daily living,” writes Chongo.
“My mother never knew how to spell sadness, she wasn’t illiterate; she carried in her heart a balm full of happiness. Father taught me how to break a dirge into a verse, a chapter, and finally into a book if he’s shadow lost its way back home because life was an unpredictable game in my village and people sometimes simply disappeared never to return,” he writes.

Chongo has been writing from a very young age and credits his late mother as one of his most significant influence on his writings.
“I’ve got so much love for African literature, and I find it hard to have an all-time favorite author, but Chinua Achebe is one legend whose works I’ve come to admire most, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie too, she’s dynamite,” he says.

On the books that have left an indelible mark “Weep Not Child, Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s stunning book, the kind of writing style portrayed in the book is entirely exceptional.”

On being shortlisted for the Kalemba prize, “KSSP isn’t just about the prize package itself, but an opportunity to rocket Zambia’s literary works on the African space and the world” [Thank-you Chongo, we love your winning attitude and looking forward to working with you in the nearest future].

Chongo has an admirable body of works some of which have appeared in a number of anthologies and other platforms including Spill words magazine, Enclave, Youth Shades, Tuneworth and Lunaris Review.

The Livingstone based writer is also a Journalist at radio Mosi-O-Tunya and Alliance for Community Action. He doubles as a peer educator at Young Men Christian Association and the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia.

Shaking Zambia’s literary scene – Mutinta writes like a master

WRITER 4d.jpg

At 22 years, Mutinta Nanchengwa’s writing is as good as that of any accomplished writer.
Her story the Legacy of Moombe is timeless stuff and is downloadable here

Mutinta weaves a compelling narrative of Africa’s undoing; power and greed. Her story is a rare glimpse into a State machinery under capture by a powerful and ruthless family: the Moombes. So powerful so much so that with a single text message, they can remove a President from power.

“The legacy of theft never really left us. We just found more efficient ways to steal. Every member of the family had a role to play” she writes “We will mark this as a loss, and we continue as if Malindi never existed. His widow will be comfortable, and we shall move on,“ he said harshly. “We will be remembered for our greed.”

Writing has always been a part of Nanchengwa who grew up and went to school in Harare, Zimbabwe.

“The earliest influence on my writing was J.K Rowling with the Harry Potter series, she will always be one of my all-time favorite authors,” she says. “However, the two books that made the biggest impact on my life and shaped my writing style are Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.”

A student pursuing a degree in Media and Communication Studies at the University of Zambia, Mutinta is a writer and content curator at Vodafone Jump.

This young writer is no ordinary mind, and we at Kalemba Prize have her on our radar.

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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