Mofiyinfoluwa Okupe’s maternal grandmother Alhaja Abebi Monsurat Lasaki.

Submissions are now open to the inaugural Abebi Award in Afro-Nonfiction, founded by Nigerian writer Mofiyinfoluwa Okupe. All writers of nonfiction, especially African women, should take this opportunity and apply!

Currently an MFA Nonfiction graduate student at the University of Iowa, Okupe began the Abebi Award in Afro-Nonfiction to shine a much-needed light on nonfiction from Africa. Named after Okupe’s maternal grandmother Alhaja Abebi Monsurat Lasaki, the award celebrates bold women writers who resist cultures of silence and shame to share their own voices.

In an article written for the Medium, Okupe shares that her journey to creating the award comes from fighting a personal health battle and looking for women like herself who had written their story:

On the literary landscape on the continent at present, there are many opportunities for fiction and poetry writers, but it appears non-fiction as a genre does not enjoy that spotlight and development. As a Nigerian woman writing creative non-fiction primarily, I have come into an intimate knowledge of our real life stories and the power they have to become a mirror, to see ourselves and to pursue freedom.

In October of 2021, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and in a time of severe confusion and loneliness, I scoured the internet for an essay written by someone who looked like me, fighting the same battle. It felt like a warm, redemptive embrace when I found Adaeze M. Nwadike’s “If A Bird Wishes to Fly” (published on Lolwe), witnessing the real story of another young Nigerian woman battling this same disease. I drew strength from her and went on to pen essays that have served as witness and balm to other women. This is what is at the heart of The Abebi Award in Afro-Nonfiction. I want to see African women undressing every shameful thing we have been told to bury. Brandishing our truth on the page, telling this world that it does not have the power to keep our mouths shut.

The winner will be awarded N150,000 and the first runner up will be awarded N100,000. The award is sponsored by the CEO of Greoh Studios Jadesola Osiberu.

The 2023 edition will be judged by Nigerian writer and editor Ajoke Bodunde, Big Cabal Media editorial director Ope Adedeji, and Mofiyinfoluwa Okupe herself.

Submission Guidelines:

  • The award is open to Nigerian women, 18 and above who were born in, grew up in, or have significant lived experience within and proximity to the country. We encourage entries from queer women.
  • The award is open to writers who have not published a complete body of work, and will not have done so by December 2023.
  • All entries should be submitted to [email protected], attached in .doc format. The attached entries should not bear any identifying information in the attached document as all submissions will be considered anonymously. The body of the email submission however should please include the writer’s full name, city of residence in Nigeria, and a brief bio.
  • All entries should be nonfiction: i.e. real life stories derived from true events from the writer’s life. We would love to read essays that delve deep into emotional interiorities, family relations, gendered expectations, patriarchal conditioning and triumph. This does not mean essays must be sad, or political but that they depict the complexities of what it is to move as a woman in this country.
  • All entries should be within the range of 1,500–3,000 words in length.

Deadline: November 14, 2023 at 6 PM WAT

The winner will be announced on December 1, along with a runner up and three notable entries. The winner, runner up and the three notable applicants will be invited to a two-day writer’s residency in Lagos in December followed by a reading event to celebrate the first year of the award.

Good luck to all applicants!