SIPHO MPOFU is this year’s winner of the Yvonne Vera Award for short story writing under the Intwasa Short Story Competition.
The competition, whose award is named after the late iconic writer Yvonne Vera and is probably the biggest literary prize in Zimbabwe, seeks to recognise fresh and exciting short story writing by Zimbabwean writers living in and outside Zimbabwe.
The award carries a cash prize of $500 courtesy of Hivos Foundation and Royal Nowergian embassy.
Mpofu won the award with his short story, Balance of Power, which takes a swipe at witchcraft and black magic. The short story is a hilarious take on witchcraft, brilliantly told in flowing and gripping language.
Mpofu is probably another Intwasa find who would follow in the footsteps of giant creative writers who have passed through the competition.
This year there were slightly less entries to the Yvonne Vera Award, 59 as compared to 81 in 2012.
In 2011 the number of submissions was 103.
Raisedon Baya — the director of Intwasa (organisers of the competition) — said the largest number of entries this year were from the Bulawayo region, with a number of writers having submitted on previous occasions.
“With less entries coming from outside Bulawayo the question is whether the call for submissions is reaching a large enough geographical area,” Baya said.
“There appears to be fewer established writers entering the competition this year.
“However, the judges felt that the standard of writing had improved and writers were taking more care in checking their work before entering the competition.
“A small number of writers did submit stories that were slapdash, with errors of spelling and grammar,” he added.
The stories had varied subject matters — the liberation war, Gukurahundi, elections, circumcision, suicide, the challenges of being an albino, as well as more traditional subjects such as romance and adventure.
Quite a few of the stories had twists at the end, which increased their appeal.
“We would encourage writers to enter this, as well as other writing competitions, as being selected for the long list, short list or being the ultimate winner, is an important form of recognition.”
The short list is as follows:
First: Sipho Mpofu — Balance of Power
Second: Farai Mudzingwa — A Native Metamorphosis
Third: Nixon Nembaware — A Moment of Madness
Fourth: Mercy Dhliwayo — Stofberg Remnants
Fifth: Shepherd Zvorufura — My Mother’s Son