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We’re thrilled (read: jumping) to announce that Brittle Paper‘s Deputy Editor Otosirieze Obi-Young has won the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature—his very first award win. The other four nominees were the writer and video artist Akwaeke Emezi, the novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite, the poet and performer Lanaire Aderemi, and the poet Ijeoma Umebinyuo.

The award was presented by the actress and comedian Chigul and the law professor Akin Oyebode at a ceremony held at Balmoral Convention Center, Victoria Island, Lagos. The ceremony was hosted by former Big Brother Naija housemate Khafi Khareem and Temisan Emmanuel, with the singer and photographer Toni Tones and trapper Falz unveiled as “surprise hosts.”

Almost immediately after the announcement, congratulations began flooding social media.

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The Future Awards were established in 2006 by The Future Project, a social enterprise committed to human and capital development especially in Africa. Described by Forbes as “the most important awards for outstanding young Africans,” The Future Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people between the ages of 18 and 31 in the year under consideration.

According to its website, The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature “recognizes the personal and professional achievements of young writers within the year in view.” While this is the first year for the Literature Prize, authors who had previously won The Future Awards include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for the category of Young Person of the Year in 2008, and Ayodami Adebayo, for the category of Arts and Culture in 2017.

Otosirieze missed the ceremony. But receiving the Award on his behalf was the award-winning Silverbird presenter Victory Wilson.

Otosirieze’s short stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a short story collection and is working on a novel. He assumed editorial duties at Brittle Paper in 2016. He is most likely honored for his invaluable contribution in expanding Brittle Paper’s curation of literary culture in the continent, but also for his roles on the judging panels of the Morland Writing Scholarships, the most prestigious literary grant in Africa, and the Gerald Kraak Prize, the only literary and art award for gender, sexuality, and social justice.

Named one of the “top curators and editors from Africa” by The Witsprouts Project, the 25-year-old is also an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, and the founder of The Art Naija Series anthologies. Most recently, he was profiled on Literary Hub for his advocacy for LGBTQ+ visibility in literature.

Congratulations to all winners of the 21 categories of The Future Awards Africa, but especially to Otosirieze! Here is a special congratulatory message from Brittle Paper‘s founder and editor-in-chief Ainehi Edoro:

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Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a Staff Writer at Brittle Paper. An alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop, his work has been published in McSweeneys, Clarion Review, Charles River Journal and elsewhere. He was longlisted for the Awele Creative Trust Award in 2017 and was a finalist for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award. In 2019, he was named by Electric Literature as 'One of the Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction' in a feature introduced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. He is a regular contributor with the New England Review of Books and lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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