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Nigerian Writer Wins Africa’s Highest Literary Award

This year’s prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing, the top literary award on the continent, has been awarded to Nigerian writer Rotimi Babatunde for his work Bombay’s Republic about Nigerian soldiers who fought in Burma during World War II.

The prize comes with a cash award of £10,000 ($15,700). The prize focuses on the short story genre.

Babatunde described his work to the BBC as a story about “liberation and how a character can have his world widened.”

The short list of five writers was announced in May and there has been much speculation about who would emerge victorious. The award was presented at the Bodleian Library in Oxford last night.

The chair of the judges, Bernardine Evaristo, said Babatunde’s story is “ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of independence.”

As part of his winnings, Babatunde, who lives in Ibadan in Nigeria, will now be offered a writer-in-residence fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. Babatunde said his next work is a novel about migration, choice and love.

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