Ntsika Kota,2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner has reflected on how it feels to win the prize as the time to choose the next winner draws near.
“It’s been a year and I still find myself experiencing this disbelief. Winning the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize was a surreal, brilliant experience,” writes Kota, who is the first person to ever win the prize from eSwatini.
Like many who enter the prize, he says he saw himself as an amateur writer as his formal training ended with high school creative writing classes.
“I never expected to win–I knew the calibre of submissions each year–but I was proud of my story and wanted to submit it.
“When I was announced as the winner, it was as if someone said: ‘Surprise. You’re a writer for real now.’
“Since winning the prize I’ve had the privilege of connecting with readers and writers across the globe. I met Rwandan writers at the Commonwealth People’s Forum in Kigali and spoke at the George Town Literary Festival in Malaysia,”he says.
On a personal level, he adds, winning has not only reaffirmed his passion for writing but also instilled a sense of responsibility to elevate his craft further.
“The last year has been incredible and there’s a part of me that would love to experience it all over again. It’s exciting to know that we’re less than two weeks away from someone starting the same journey,” he adds.
Kota says he will be tuning in to watch the 2023 prize award ceremony on 27 June as he can’t wait to see which of the five talented regional winners is announced as the overall winner.
He encourages everyone to register for the ceremony.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is a cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation.