It is no doubt that Africa has been experiencing something of a cultural renaissance and that literature has been at the forefront. Sunday the 23rd of February saw Noviolet Bulawayo, the Zimbabwean author of We Need New Names, emerge the winner of the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature.
It was an exclusive invite-only event welcoming guests to Champaign and canapés at the Federal Palace Hotel. Contrary to the tradition of African time, the event did kick off as slated. Ama Atta Aidoo gave the opening remarks. She stressed the importance of the internet as a revolutionizing force, especially in relation to flash fiction. Uche Okonkwo was then awarded the one thousand pound cash prize in the flash fiction category for her story “Neverland.”
Then followed the slide show presentation paying homage to Africa’s literary stars and heroes from the first generation to those responsible for Africa’s contemporary literary revival. Accompanying the presentation was music by The Lagos Philharmonic, led by composer Re Olunuga.
The piece de resistance was, of course, the arrival of Youssou N’dor and his full band, thrilling the audience to known hits like “Birima” and “7 Seconds,” a duet performed alongside the Nigerian singer, Ruby.
The prize is the beginning of something really good for African literature and we hope there will be many more good things to come.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, captured the vision of the prize when he said: “As a rite of passage, published and unpublished literary works of art have been passed down from generation to generation in Africa. Etisalat Nigeria is indeed pleased to celebrate all authors in the African literary spectrum from the greats such as Wole Soyinka, Miriama Ba to Ben Okri, Alain Mabanckou and Chimamanda Adichie. As such, Etisalat Nigeria is proud to use its maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature pan-African award to recognize and celebrate the amazing work done by these unique individuals.”
—- By Wana Udobang (for Brittle Paper)
Thanks to Jennifer Ukoh for the lovely photos.
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