Nigerian Writer, Nneka Arimah Who Based Her Short Story On The Social Privileges Of Married Women In Nigeria In Contrast To That of Their Unmarried Counterparts Wins Caine Prize For 2019

Another Nigerian woman has written her name in gold after winning the Caine’s Prize for African writing. British-born Nigerian Writer Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the 20th edition of the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story ‘Skinned‘. Her satirical short story ‘Skinned’ focuses on the challenges faced by women in African societies still dominated by traditional rituals.

The story follows the fortunes of Ejem, who comes from a culture where girls are uncovered at a certain age and go naked until they are claimed by a husband.

The 36-year-old told the Literary Hub that 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.”

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In her acceptance speech, Arimah emphasised that African writers should centre the African gaze. To her fellow shortlisted writers , she said :

“ Your stories have added to the profile of African literature, adding the many voices that we need to illuminate who we are.

The chairperson of the judging panel, Peter Kimani, described the story as a “unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals”.

Arimah was shortlisted for the award in 2017 and her debut collection What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky was published to critical acclaim the same year.

The Caine Prize, which is worth $12,500 (£10,000) is awarded for a short story published in English. It was established in 2000 with the aim of bringing African writing to a wider international audience.

Watch Nneka giving her acceptance speech below:

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