South Africa's Mandla Langa has won the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize's regional award for Africa.
In a competition dominated by South Africans, with the exception of one Nigerian author, Uwem Akpan, the cultural activist was declared the winner of the Best Book, Africa region.
Akpan romped home with the Best First Book: Africa region prize in this fiercely contested competition.
His Say You're One of Them, a compilation of short stories, each set in a different country, focused on African conflicts as seen through the eyes of children, describing their resilience and endurance in heartbreaking detail.
Langa, the former chairperson of the broadcasting regulatory board the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, was rewarded for his creative genius for his novel The Lost Colours of the Chameleon.
His novel, published by Picador Africa, is set on the fictitious island of Bangula, in the Indian Ocean.
"I'm thrilled at the news, which I'm savouring slowly. The regional award gives impetus to my writing and enables me to have even bigger dreams," said Langa who, like Akpan, pocketed £1000 (R15000}.
"Mandla Langa's Lost Colours of the Chameleon emerged as the strongest contender in a field of works of the highest technical proficiency, because of the sustained quality of his prose," said Elinor Sisulu, chairperson of the judging panel to reward the best fiction written in Eng.
"In a complex novel that combines allegory and realism, Langa deconstructs the inner workings of a mythical African state, laying bare the frailties of leaders too blinded by power to confront the major challenges of their times."
The other judges were Kole Omotoso (Nigeria) and Billy Kahora (Kenya).
Langa and Akpan will join other regional winners at a ceremony on May 16 in New Zealand where the overall winner will be announced during the 2009 Auckland Writers' and Readers Festival.