National writing award launched

A new writing award — The Lozikeyi Writing Prize — that focuses on developing the skills of high school girls in Zimbabwe has been launched with the winners ceremony set for January 15 next year in the capital.

BY SHARON SIBINDI

The award is being sponsored by Voices for Women Worldwide in partnership with South African/Australian philanthropist and women’s issues advocate Sharon Mather and administered by acclaimed author, poet, playwright and filmmaker Philani Nyoni.

Nyoni recently told NewsDay Life & Style that the Lozikeyi Writing Prize is the first national writing contest with focus on high school students, especially the girl child.

“Statistics prove that when women are afforded the opportunity to write they often outdo their male counterparts. Consider the literary history of Bulawayo alone can hold a candle to Yvonne Vera, No Violet Bulawayo and most recently Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. From that perspective we can be easily accused of attacking what is weak, yet all things must start somewhere,” he said.

Nyoni said entrants must be high school students or of school-going age, defined by the rules as being between 13 and 18 years.

“Each piece of writing must be the original work of the submitter, who must be of Zimbabwean nationality or studying in Zimbabwe, either a registered secondary or high school students between the ages of 13 and 18,” he said.

“We have streamlined the entire process to the website to have a one-stop shop for submissions and everything to do with the prize. We do acknowledge that our formula negates remote areas without computers or Internet access, but that is a cross we must bear and somehow extricate ourselves from as the vision and mission progresses.”

Nyoni said they have received tremendous support from the writing community and advice from people like Lizzy Atree, the former director of the Caine Prize for African writing who has helped set-up literary contests across the continent.

“We had strong reasons and advice to start small, preferably regional to test out our formula and make full use of our limited resources, but as the vision grew bigger we realised we had little time to tiptoe,” he said.

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