Jude Idada with his NLNG Prize cheque.

The Nigerian writer and filmmaker Jude Idada has been awarded the 2019 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for Literature, for his third children’s book Boom Boom, a novel that explores sickle cell disease. On the shortlist were Dunni Olatunde’s Mysteries at Ebenezer’s Lodge and O.T. Begho’s The Great Walls of Benin. The longlist of eleven included, among others, Commonwealth Prize-winning author Adoabi Tricia Nwaubani, for her debut children’s book Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, and ten-year old Anisa Daniel-Oniko, for her book Double ‘A’ for Adventure. Idada had previously been shortlisted in 2014 for his play Oduduwa, King of the Edos.

At $100,000 (₦36 million), the NLNG Prize is Africa’s richest. Currently in its fifteenth year, it honours a published book, rotating annually among four genres: poetry, prose fiction, drama, and children’s literature. This year is for children’s literature.

The Prize’s 2019 judges were: Asabe Usman Kabir, professor of oral and African literatures at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Patrick Oloko, senior lecturer in African postcolonial literature, gender and cultural studies at the University of Lagos; and the chair, Obodimma Oha, professor of cultural semiotics and stylistics at the University of Ibadan.

Reacting to his win, the author took to Facebook to express his delight. He dedicated his win to Sickle Cell Survivors and their allies, his editors, publisher, family, friends and readers.

Also awarded at the event were Professor Meihong Wang and Dr. Mathew Aneke as joint-winners of the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Science. They won for their work on carbon capture and utilization and biomass gasification and energy storage for power generation.

Previous winners of the NLNG Prize for Literature include Ezenwa Ohaeto and Gabriel Okara for poetry in 2005, Ahmed Yerima for drama in 2006, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Mabel Segun for children’s literature in 2007, Kaine Agary for prose fiction in 2008, Adeleke Adeyemi for children’s literature in 2011, Chika Unigwe for prose fiction in 2012, Tade Ipadeola for poetry in 2013, Sam Ukala for drama in 2014, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim for prose fiction in 2016, Ikeogu Oke for poetry in 2017, and Soji Cole for drama in 2018.

Congratulations to Jude Idada.