Joanna Kaze, the Winner of the First Andika Prize Edition

It is for her short story “Chance” that Joanna Kaze, 25 years old, won the first edition of the English-speaking Literary Contest Andika Prize, the initial one of this kind in Burundi.-Diane Uwimana

Joanna Kaze receiving the prize from Dawn Liberi, the US Ambassador to Burundi.©Iwacu

Joanna Kaze receiving the prize from Dawn Liberi, the US Ambassador to Burundi.©Iwacu

Her short story, which tells about the tragic story of a teenage-mother, was selected the best among 59 texts in the whole country. “The author took the jury into another world, created a strong and very real character, a gripping plot and an unexpected ending, all the elements of a great and lasting story”, exclaimed the jury.

Within a good atmosphere, most of the participants for the literary award were present in the first ceremony of Andika Prize. “I couldn’t imagine if I could win the contest, it was a surprise for me to be chosen among 59 participants as it was my first submission written in English”, says the young winner.

According to the Andika Prize jury, the short story was a powerful story of a teenage mother turned housemaid. It is both deeply moving and surprising. Joanna Kaze indicates that she was inspired by her friend’s behaviour when she mistreated her housekeeper. “Looking at the manner they are threatened during their work, I have written a fictitious short story showing how a housekeeper can do bad things ignorantly. So, “Chance” talks about a babysitter who killed a baby due to her carelessness and inexperience”, she explains.
She goes on saying that she wants to give this message: “Housekeepers should be treated like other people; we have to avoid mistreating and considering them as good-for-nothing”. With the launching of Andika Prize Contest, Kaze hopes that libraries will increase to help youths improve their English language knowledge.

The second prize was awarded to Francis Muhire for his short story “Time” because of its fresh and original take on what would otherwise be an ordinary story. The detached writing style is confident and with a sense of humour”. The jury was impressed with both the tone and voice of the story which ease the reader into the universe of the main character. The third prize was given to Patrick Rumeci for his short novel “Change, Times’ Waterfall”.
It has an impressive command of the English language, beautiful descriptions and powerful images; the story potrays great lyrical talent. The members of the Jury also paid tribute by an honourable mention to two other short stories, “A Time in Hell”, by Yves Ruserukanineza and “I will Die Tomorrow”, by Bruce Mworoha. Although these two texts did not make it to the top three “we chose to award them with a special mention for the great potential that these writers hold,” says one of the Board members.

Andika Prize will be run each year

Launched last July 2013 by Iwacu Press Group with the support of the US Embassy and TradeMark East-Africa, Andika Prize is a literary Contest which aims at promoting the Burundian perpetrators of speaking. Jean Marie Vianney Rugerinyange, Director General of Culture in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture notes that Andika Prize opens doors to writers and through this contest Burundi will be known worldwide.

According to Anthe Vrijlandt, the Country Director of TMEA, these short stories will have a huge positive impact in Burundi, in the region and all around the World.  For Dawn Liberi, the US Ambassador to Burundi, as English is the key in the community, USA is committed to supporting the integration throughout the English language. “We will support this Prize each year and perhaps the Diaspora will have their turn”, says the Ambassador. The first three short stories will be edited and published this June in a compendium which will be distributed throughout the country.