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Thursday, March 19, 2009


Mandla Langa wins with “The Lost Colours of the Chameleon”.

An international judging panel has awarded the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book Award, Africa region, to The Lost Colours of the Chameleon by Mandla Langa (South Africa). The Best First Book Award was awarded to Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan (Nigeria). Each author wins £1,000 and goes into the next stage of the competition to choose the overall Commonwealth Best Book and Best First Book winner, who receive £10,000 and £5,000 respectively.

The announcements of all eight regional winners took place on March 11 as part of Commonwealth Week, a series of special events taking place on and around Commonwealth Day. The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize aims to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English, by both established and new writers, and to take their works to a global audience. The judging panel for the Africa region was chaired by Elinor Sisulu (South Africa). She was joined by judges Kole Omotoso (Nigeria) and Billy Kahora (Kenya).

Upon winning the Best Book Award, Mandla Langa commented: “I’m dumbfounded and thrilled at the news, which I’m savouring slowly. The regional award gives impetus to my writing and enables me to have even bigger dreams.”

The announcement of the two winners took place at The Time of the Writer Festival in Durban, South Africa.

In a unique aspect of the Prize, the regional winners will be invited to take part in a week-long programme of community events and public readings during the final pan-Commonwealth judging in New Zealand in May 2009. They join other winners from Canada and the Caribbean, Europe and South Asia and South East Asia and the Pacific. The week's programme will culminate in the announcement of the overall Best Book and Best First Book winners in a special ceremony as part of the 2009 Auckland Writers’ and Readers Festival in New Zealand on May 16.