Senegalese writers Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo have made history by becoming the first pair to win the prestigious Caine Prize for African writing. Their winning story, “A Soul of Small Places,” drew inspiration from Diallo’s personal experience of gender-based violence in Senegal.
The work has been praised for its profound storytelling, seamlessly blending themes of love and addressing urgent global concerns. The couple revealed they scripted the story in just six days, describing the process as almost possessed, highlighting the potent synergy between the pair.
The couple met at a shelter in northern Senegal, where Diene was visiting. The chemistry developed while he listened to Woppa discussing her work advocating against gender-based violence. Diene, reflecting on their collaboration, explained that the story would not exist without their encounter and hearing Woppa’s powerful message.
The couple expressed their desire for their daughter to understand that passion is a significant aspect of life. Diene shared his hope that their daughter will develop into a strong-willed, passionate individual who actively engages with life and important issues, much like her mother.
The Caine Prize winners are awarded a cash prize of £10,000 ($12,000) and the opportunity to have their work showcased in the 2023 Caine Prize anthology. This year, the award, which honors African writers who have published short stories in English, received a record-breaking 297 entries from 28 different countries.
Past recipients of this prestigious prize include notable writers like Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo and Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina.