Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo, both from Senegal, have made history by becoming the first couple to win the coveted Caine Prize for African writing. “A Soul of Small Places,” their winning narrative, was inspired by Diallo’s personal experience with gender-based violence in Senegal.
Her novel centered on themes of violence, vengeance, love, and grief, which mirrored her own life experiences. She admitted to the BBC that the story was inspired by her personal hardships.
The work has been lauded for its rich storytelling, which flawlessly blends themes of love while also addressing pressing world issues. The duo stated that they wrote the story in just six days, describing the process as nearly possessed, showcasing their powerful synergy.
Diene was visiting a refuge in northern Senegal when the couple met. The spark grew as he listened to Woppa talk about her work pushing against gender-based violence. In reflecting on their partnership, Diene stated that the story would not exist if they had not met and heard Woppa’s profound message.
The pair stated their desire for their daughter to grasp the importance of passion in life. Diene expressed his hope that his kid, like her mother, will grow into a strong-willed, passionate individual who actively participates with life and vital topics.
The Caine Prize winners get a cash prize of £10,000 ($12,000) as well as the option to have their writing featured in the Caine Prize anthology in 2023. This year’s award, which recognizes African writers who have written short stories in English, got a record-breaking 297 submissions from 28 nations.
This coveted award has previously gone to prominent writers such as Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo and Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina.