Makena Onjerika

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Makena Onjerika
Makena Onjerika reading at Lannan Center Reading Series, Georgetown University, March 2019
Makena Onjerika reading at Lannan Center Reading Series, Georgetown University, March 2019
Alma materNew York University
Notable awardsCaine Prize

Makena Onjerika is a Kenyan writer, who won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing[1] making her the fourth writer from her country to do so—following wins by Binyavanga Wainaina in 2002 and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor in 2003, and Okwiri Oduor in 2013.[2]


In July 2018, Makena won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing[3] – often described as Africa's leading literary award, for her short story entitled "Fanta Blackcurrant", published in Wasafiri (2017). The Chair of the Caine Prize judging panel, award-winning Ethiopian-American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu, announced Makena as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner.[4] The ceremony was held for the second time in London University's Senate House, in partnership with SOAS and the Centre for African Studies. Mengestu praised the story in his remarks, saying, "the winner of this year’s Caine Prize is as fierce as they come – a narrative forged but not defined by the streets of Nairobi, a story that stands as more than just witness. Makena Onjerika’s 'Fanta Blackcurrant' presides over a grammar and architecture of its own making, one that eschews any trace of sentimentality in favour of a narrative that is haunting in its humour, sorrow and intimacy."[5]

Makena is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confusions and Wasifiri. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently working on a fantasy novel.[6]

She founded the Nairobi Fiction Writing Workshop and edited the anthology Digital Bedbugs, composed of the stories from the workshop.[7]


  1. ^ "2018 Winner - Makena Onjerika (Kenya)" Archived 2018-07-06 at the Wayback Machine, The Caine Prize for African Writing.
  2. ^ Otosirieze, "Makena Onjerika Awarded 2018 Caine Prize, Is 4th Kenyan Winner", Brittle Paper, 2 July 2018.
  3. ^ Valerie Koga, "Kenyan Makena Onjerika wins 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing", Daily Nation, 3 July 2018.
  4. ^ Nancy Agutu, "Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika wins Sh1.3m Caine Prize for African Writing", The Star (Kenya), 3 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Kenya: 2018 Winner - Makena Onjerika (Kenya)", AllAfrica, 3 July 2018.
  6. ^ Alexander Opicho, "Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika on Caine Prize 2018 shortlist", Daily Nation, 19 May 2018.
  7. ^ Murua, James (2020-02-18). "Makena Onjerika-edited anthology "Digital Bedbugs" available for your reading pleasure". James Murua's Literature Blog. Retrieved 2020-04-26.

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