BULAWAYO – Sipho Mpofu has scooped this year’s Yvonne Vera Award for short story writing presented to the winner of the annual Intwasa Short Story Competition.
The award, named after the late distinguished author Yvonne Vera and is one the biggest literary prizes in Zimbabwe, seeks to recognise fresh and exciting short story writing by Zimbabwean writers living in and outside the country.
Mpofu pocketed $500 which was made available by Hivos and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Mpofu beat 58 other contestants through his well thought-out short story, Balance of Power, which takes a dig into witchcraft and black magic.
The other outstanding stories featured in the Intwasa Short Story Competition includes, A Native Metamorphosis by Farai Mudzingwa, A Moment of Madness, by Nixon Nembaware, Mercy Dhliwayo’s “Stofberg Remnants” and “ My Mother’s Son” by Shepherd Zvorufura.
According to Intwasa Festival director Raisedon Baya Mpofu’s short story is “a hilarious take on witchcraft, brilliantly told in flowing and gripping language.”
“Mpofu is another Intwasa Festival find who is set to follow in the footsteps of giant creative writers who have passed through the competition,” Baya said.
Mpofu joins an illustrious list of previous competition winners which includes Thabisani Ndlovu, Bryony Rheam and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.
Baya told the Daily News that this year’s annual Intwasa Short Story Competition attracted 59 entries which are fewer than the 81 received last year and 103 featured in 2011.
Though the competition is a national one, the Intwasa organisers are disappointed because the bulk of the entries were from Bulawayo.
“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,” Baya explained.
The Intwasa Festival director praised the writers for covering such subjects such as the liberation war, Gukurahundi, elections, circumcision, suicide, the challenges of being an albino, as well as more traditional subjects like romance and adventure.
“There were many very good submissions. Reducing the long list to a shortlist of five was difficult — but we feel we chose those that combined excellent writings skills with good characterisation and engaging story-lines,” Baya added.