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No, this is not a dream. Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Africa’s most beloved debut novelist, is dancing with Asa.

Who knew that African writers danced! How did we get to this?—African writers leaving their ivory tower to dance with the masses.

Blame it on The Etisalat Prize for African Literature. Until they came on the scene, we didn’t know that African literature could get people partying up a storm. We also were under the impression that literary award ceremonies were boring events.

That stereotype was beautifully shattered when Tsitsi Dangaremgba, author of the African classic Nervous Conditions, was caught on camera doing a set of show-stoping dance moves at the 2014 Etisalat prize award gala.

Angelique Kidjo, who performed at the event, also delighted the audience with beautifully wild dance steps.

The third edition of the prize was recently concluded with an award ceremony held in Lagos. During the event, epic dance moves were also on display.

On March 19th, the who-is-who of the literary and entertainment industries were assembled at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos for the Etisalat Prize grand finale. After the euphoria that trailed the announcement of Fiston Mujila as the winner of the prize, Asa came on stage to work up the already giddy audience to a frenzy.

Dangaremgba and Kidjo had clearly set a precedent. Asa did not want to be out-shined, so she delighted the audience with equally energetic dance moves.

 

We love the fact that the Etisalat prize award gala is becoming this space where people are inspired to unleash their inner crazy-dancer.

This mixing of literature and dance is worth celebrating. It says a lot about how The Etisalat prize has done a fantastic job of creating bridges between Africa’s highbrow literary community and African pop-culture.

Let’s see if this #crazydancemoves culture will carry through to the 2016 edition of the prize.

*************

Post image by J. J. Omojuwa via Twitter @omojuwa

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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