The Nigerian writer and Corp member Mustapha Enesi is winner of the 2021 Awele Creative Trust Award for his story “Safety Pins Are Good Omens,” described by the judges as “tender and gripping.”

Enesi, who lives in Lagos, is the eighth recipient of the award, which was founded in 2014 by the NLNG Prize-winning author Chika Unigwe, as part of an initiative to revitalize the Nigerian literary space by supporting young, up-and-coming authors. Notable past winners have included Nneoma Ike Njoku and Caleb Okereke.

The cash prize of N50,000 for the year’s award was donated by the London-based tech expert Chikere Ezeh.

The judges praised the winning and shortlisted stories for the diversity of subject matter:

In “Safety Pins are Good Omens,” the narrator gropes her way through grief to agency. Its ending is where the narrator’s new life begins. According to our judges, there is an urgency to the story and a tenderness to the telling that is gripping. The other stories in the shortlist touch on womanhood, patriarchy, trauma, loss and police brutality, often in startlingly beautiful language. Some expand our knowledge, in the risks they take, of what a short story is capable of doing. They gave our judges reading pleasure, but made their job to pick one winner all the more difficult. The future of Nigerian writing is bright, indeed.

Enesi’s writing has received considerable visibility through award wins and shortlistings. His story “Kesandu” won the 2021 K & L Prize for African Literature. He was a finalist for the 2021 Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize, a theme winner in Aster Lit’s 2021 Fall Writing Contest, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Arthur Flowers Flash Fiction Prize. His works appear in The Maine Review, Kalahari Review, Litro Magazine, Eboquills, The Story Tree Challenge Maiden Anthology, and elsewhere.

Previous winners of the Awele Creative Trust Award include Caleb Adebayo (2014), Nneoma Ike Njoku (2015), Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke & Anthony Ezekwoh (2016), Imade Iyamu (2017), Bakporhe Ufuomaoghen (2019) and Joshua Chizoma (2020).

Congratulations to Mustapha Enesi!