Writer Wesley Macheso,’ who is a columnist in The Daily Times newspaper on Saturday, was all smiles as he was crowned the winner of this year’s K4.5 million Peer Gynt Literary Award spearheaded by Malawi Writers Union (Mawu).
The award ceremony which was attended by several writers was held at Old Mutual in Blantyre and this year focused on children’s writing.
Macheso, who writes The Write Stuff column, outclassed other writers in the competition and won the hearts of the judges of Professor Pascal Kishindo, Desmond Dudwa Phiri and Gracious Changaya with his story titled Akuzike and the Gods.
As a winner Macheso received K400,000.
“It’s a pleasure to win this award, I am very happy and this is a reward to me that finally my hard work has paid off. As a writer I want to write more and bring something new,” said Macheso, who has won the Peer Gynt Literary Award for the first time.
He said that the inspiration to write the story Akuzike and the Gods came from his many stories he has read and that he is always on his toes reading books from other experienced writers.
Born on May 28, 1989, Macheso is a writer and an academician and is currently working as a lecturer in Creative Writing and Literature at Mzuzu University.
He has published a number of short stories and poems in various literary magazines including The Karahari Review, Storymoja Africa, and Africanwriter. com.
One of his short stories has been recently long listed for the Short Story Day Africa (SSDA) prize and will be included in an anthology of African short stories titled Water to be published in December.
Macheso said he is currently working on a novel.
Heath Kathewera was second with his story Limbanazo finds the clue while 27-year old Matilda Phiri showed that women can also excel in writing in the country when she came third with her story Grace the village girl.
The two received K250,000 and K150,000 respectively.
Writers Hagai Magai, Aubrey Chinguwo and Mada Nyambo came fourth, fifth and sixth respectively receiving K50,000 each with their stories The Rotten Peanut, Tiseke and the Tree and a A Rat for Christmas.
On position seven was Dickson Galagade Phiri with his story The Servant while Pius Nyondo, Joe Mlenga and Benedicto Nkonde came eighth, ninth and 10th respectively with their stories The Wheel Chair, Yona and His Father and Trip to Town.
Those from position seven to 10 received books.
The competition received 36 entries which were scrutinised by a first panel of judges comprising Jonathan Thathwe Mbuna, Leona Chilemba and Akwete Sande who shortlisted 12.
The second set of judges led by Kishindo then scrutinised the 12 before coming up with the best 10 and then the winners.
Kishindo said when coming up with the winners they based their criteria on imagination, creativity, language and style and that they were judging using a blind review as the stories had no names.
“The competition this year has gone very well and we had the best crop of stories and we hope Mawu will find money to publish the six best stories,” said Kishindo.
He hailed Mawu for focusing on children’s writing saying this is the only way the country can improve the reading culture.
“We have talked of improving the reading culture but reading culture should start at the beginning and so the beginning is the children as once they develop the reading habit you will not push them,” said Ki shindo urging writers to write when the spirit moves them.
Mawu President Sambalikagwa Mvona hailed the Royal Norwegian Embassy for their support to the Peer Gynt Award which started in 2000 through former ambassador Asbjorn Eidhammer.
Last year the winner was Shadreck Chikoti, who received K500,000.
During the awards ceremony whose guest of honour was veteran writer and former Speaker Sam Mpasu, Mawu also celebrated its 20th anniversary.
There were also performances during the ceremony which included traditional dances and storytelling.
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