SOAS student Idza Luhumyo , who is currently studying an MA in Comparative Literature, has been announced the winner of the Short Story Day Africa Prize 2021. Idza is also a ‘Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa’ scholar: this award aims to support Black, female African students with a particular interest in African literature.
This year’s theme for the South Africa-based writing competition was ‘disruption’: Idza’s short story ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ ran with these theme. Idza’s winning entry will be published, along with the second and third place winners, in the anthology Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, due out in September 2021.
We caught up with Idza to talk about her recent success – and her plans for the future.
Hi Idza! Congratulations on winning the Short Story Day Africa prize! Tell us about your winning entry.
Thank you! The best way I can put it is it’s a story about a young woman’s hair, and how she comes to terms with the various interests that people have in it. It is also about power – who has it, who uses it, and who misuses it.
You study Comparative Literature at SOAS – what do you enjoy most about your course?
My favourite thing about the MA Comparative Literature program is its interdisciplinarity. Sometimes I like to think of it as ‘literature-without-borders meets critical theory,’ which is just perfect. The program is also quite flexible when it comes to the selection of modules and so I’ve been able to pursue my interests.
What advice would you give to other students thinking of writing short stories?
I think advice abounds when it comes to writing, especially with the internet, but the main thing is just to be interested (in what you write). Following your curiosity is always a good idea. Also, obviously, there’s the usual stuff about reading a lot – seeing what other writers have done/are doing is a good way of figuring out what or how you can do it.
What are your future plans/career goals?
I hope to get another degree and delve deeper into the world of literature. Maybe a PhD? We’ll see. For now, I’m working on a longer piece of work which I hope to complete soon.
Find out more about studying Comparative Literature at SOAS.
The Margaret Busby scholarship is currently crowdfunding in order to continue its important work in supporting Black female African scholars. Find out how you can donate.