The results are out, and the winning story, “Caterer, Caterer”, is by Nigerian writer Pemi Aguda. The story, along with four others shortlisted for the Prize, is published here. Pemi Aguda writes short stories and flash fiction. Her stories have appeared in The Kalahari Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Prufrock Magazine, The Wrong Quarterly and the TNC anthology ‘These Words Expose Us’ among others. Aguda received the award at the Writivism Festival on June 21, in Kampala, Uganda.
They are building a church. They say it is going to be bigger than both the whole of Sabo and Ladoja joined together. They say it will rise so high that we will not be able to see the hills of Agbara that touch the sky in the distance; that it will be so tall that it can only force our eyes to go up. To God.
I don’t know anything about buildings. All I know is the smack- ing of fists against our wooden door if we do not pay the landlord rent on time. I also know food. I know ponmo that squishes between your teeth, so tender that you close your eyes. I know smoky jollof rice with grains that do not hold on to each other in solidarity. I know efo riro that will dribble out the side of your mouth so that your wife knows that you tasted another woman’s kitchen and found it superior to hers.
It is why I am in this Keke Maruwa that is hurtling down the street, entering every pothole on the road as if its tyres are suicidal. We have seen no other person since we turned into this narrow, winding road and the engine of the Keke Maruwa echoes in the emptiness.
I have been called to cook for the people celebrating the laying of the foundation for this church that will be taller and bigger than all the buildings I have ever seen. My husband does not like the church people – Pastor Pascal and his flock. But the money I get will pay the rent. Twice.
Biyi says to me, “Why is a man who can talk to God wearing a green suit? Why hasn’t God told him that he looks like the spirogyra that dances in our gutters?”
And I say to Biyi, “Na you know.”