Sunday 17 May 2015

2015 Shortlist: Segun Afolabi for “The Folded Leaf” (Nigeria)

The five writer shortlist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Chair of judges, award-winning South African writer Zoë Wicomb. “For all the variety of themes and approaches, the shortlist has in common a rootedness in socio-economic worlds that are pervaded with affect, as well as keen awareness of the ways in which the ethical is bound up with aesthetics. Unforgettable characters, drawn with insight and humour inhabit works ranging from classical story structures to a haunting, enigmatic narrative that challenges the conventions of the genre.”

A previous winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2005 for ‘Monday Morning’, Segun
Afolabi (Nigeria) has been shortlisted again for “The Folded Leaf” in Wasafiri (London,

Bio: Segun Afolabi was born in Nigeria and brought up in the Congo, Canada and Japan. He
lives and works in London. He is the author of A Life Elsewhere, a short story collection, and a
novel, Goodbye Lucille. He is currently working on a new novel and collection of short stories.

What 'The Folded Leaf' is about: A young girl travels with her father and a group of sick children to Lagos to pray to one of Nigeria’s infamous celebrity pastors for healing.

Read it for: an expertly guided awareness of the narrator’s experience, a delicate allusion to
homosexual love, and the rise and fall of a desperate hope.


Silence. Noise. Silence again. The sounds slipping away, returning — a seashell back and forth
against my ear. I am both giddy and fearful. I have always been afraid, I know, of the night, of
silence, of losing Mama or Papa, of Bola running away, never hearing from him again. More than anything, I am afraid the pastor will see right through me to my sin, my doubt, my disbelief.

I am frightened because, in spite of myself, I want so much for something to happen. ‘Tunde, Mrs Kekere — take this,’ Papa says. ‘Sam, Bola — one one for each of you.’ He must be distributing the funds we’ve raised in church, months of donations sealed in envelopes, used partly to pay for the driver and the minibus and today’s collection.

‘Stop trying to stand,’ Tunde says. ‘He wasn’t talking to you.’
‘But I can feel something,’ Sam says.

‘Give all you can!’ a voice booms, though not Pastor Fayemi’s. ‘He sees into your hearts. Don’t cheat Him, oh!’

Read The Folded Leaf

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