Africa: UCT Student Wins Pan-African Writing Prize

Resoketswe Manenzhe won first place in the 2019 Writivism short story competition.

Resoketswe Manenzhe, a PhD student in the Centre for Minerals Research in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT), won first prize in the short story category at the recent Writivism Festival.

Manenzhe's winning story, Maserumo, was a brief history of several deaths that occurred rather quickly, one after the other, and about the possible cause.

Writivism, which took place in Kampala, Uganda from 15 to 18 August, is an initiative that identifies, mentors and promotes emerging African writers.

According to the website, it is Uganda's leading literary event and celebrates African culture and the creative arts around an annual theme, which for 2019 was "Unbreakable Bonds".

As the short story winner, Manenzhe walks away with a $500 cash prize and a chance to work on a manuscript during a one-month residency at Stellenbosch University.

"It was amazing," she said of the Writivism experience.

VIP treatment

"I met some of the most prolific writers, publishers and activists from all over the continent.

"And for the first time in my life, I was given VIP treatment simply because I'm a writer."

"For the first time in my life, I was given VIP treatment simply because I'm a writer."

Manenzhe began writing in 2015 and her poems and short stories soon started appearing in online magazines and journals. In 2017, two of her poems - The flight at Signal Hill and Down by the Nelson bridge - were shortlisted and subsequently published in the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology.

She doesn't see her engineering work and writing as too different, however.

"Engineering teaches precision; I apply that a lot in my writing."

While she describes herself as "sometimes ... a poet, a storyteller", the future, for now, is all about engineering.

"Iʼm now fully focused on my PhD."

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