Nigerian writer, Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the Caine Prize for African Writing.
The British-born Nigerian writer featured her satirical short story Skinned for the awards.
The writing focused on the challenges faced by women in African societies hugely dominated by traditional rituals.
The Caine Prize is worth $12,500. It is is awarded for a short story published in English.
A statement from the Caine Prize said “With a wit, prescience, and a wicked imagination, Skinned is a bold and unsettling tale of bodily autonomy and womanhood, and the fault lines along which solidarities are formed and broken.”
And the winner of the 2019 Caine prize for African Writing is, Lesley Nneka Arimah!!!! pic.twitter.com/kG8XEOxS0x
— The Caine Prize for African Writing (@CainePrize) July 8, 2019
According to the chairperson of the judging panel, Peter Kimani, Arimah’s story was a “unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals”.
In her acceptance speech , Arimah said to her fellow shortlisted writers that “Your stories have added to the profile of African literature, adding the many voices that we need to illuminate who we are.”
Per the story Arimah helped readers to appreciate the fortunes of Ejem, a character who comes from a culture where girls are uncovered at a certain age.
The girls then go naked until they are claimed by a man in marriage (their husband).
The 36-year-old told the Literary Hub that she got the idea came from a conversation about the difference between married and single women in Nigeria.
“A newly wed friend marvelled at how her family – usually difficult – became easy going after her wedding. Marriage gave unconventional women cover to be themselves, we observed,” Arimah said.
She later told the BBC that her story is set in an “alternate Nigeria… a parallel universe to ours”.
Arimah used the story to “touch on this aspect of Nigerian culture that privileges marriage and a woman being married [being] essentially her duty”.
The Cain Prize was established in 2000 to bring African writing to a wider international audience.