Mali is Kalemba inaugural winner


MALI Kambandu is the inaugural Kalemba Short Story Prize 2018 winner for her short story “The hand to hold” which the judges described as gripping and beautifully told.
The Kalemba Short Story Prize, which was announced in February this year, is a home-grown initiative celebrating Zambian writing. It is funded and administered by Ukusefya WORDS, publishers of the national best-selling book “Insoselo na Mapinda”.
The Kalemba Short Story Prize team announced that Mali, a graduate of the University of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, will receive US$1,000 for the best work of original and unpublished short fiction.
Mali’s story centres on a middle class family whose fragile bond is threatened by the resurfacing of their former maid. It weaves the themes of class, loyalty, sacrifice and love in contemporary Zambia.
“She looks around the table and can barely remember a happy moment with these women who are helping her plan the happiest moments in her life,” an excerpt from her story reads. “…Family meals virtually non-existent, but the dining table is the centre of their home”.
Mali beat five others to the prize including award winning writer Peter Nawa’s “A Degree of Alone”, 17-year-old Sampa Musaba’s “The Mango Tree” and Kabwe-based Andrew Nguvu’s “God of The Mind”.
Others are “The Legacy of Moombe” by Mutinta Nanchengwa and “Broken Road in Utopia” by Livingstone-based writer Chanda Chongo.
A total of 317 stories competed for the 2018 Kalemba Prize.
The judging panel, chaired by Kenyan novelist and assistant professor of English at Cornell University Mukoma Wa Ngugi described the story as “a dark, yet gripping read, a surprising, beautifully told story that centres the voices that we often think of as living on the margins”.
The judges further said: “We were moved by this story about domestic workers and the ties that bind them to the very same families that discard them”.
Ngugi was joined on the panel by award winning Zambian writer Namwali Serpell, winner of the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing; blogger, scholar and founder of the influential Brittlepaper.com Ainehi Edoro and Mulenga Kapwepwe, former National Arts Council of Zambia (NAC) chairperson.
For Mali, winning the prize is an honour and affirmation.
“The fact that it’s a Zambian award makes it so much more meaningful,” said Mali, who will be presented with the award at a special ceremony to be held in Lusaka next month.
Mali has been exposed to literature at a tender age.
“My parents bought us many books – classics and pop culture novels – and encouraged me, my brother and three sisters to read,” she said. “At a young age, I read books which my older sisters were reading – novels by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison”.

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