By Adeola Ogunrinde
The shortlist of three entries has been approved by the Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited.
This announcement follows an initial shortlist of eleven, which was released in July. The three shortlisted entries, in alphabetic order, are Born on a Tuesday (Elnathan John), Night Dancer (Chika Unigwe) and Season of Crimson Blossoms (Abubakar Adam Ibrahim).
A statement by General Manager External Relations of NLNG, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said the Chairman of the Advisory Board, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, has indicated that the eventual winner of the competition will be announced at a World Press Conference in October, 2016.
*Born on a Tuesday,published by Parresia Books,is a story about contemporary northern Nigeria which has over the years experienced religious violence and carnage as seen through the eyes of a young man.Born on a Tuesday is Elnathan John’s first novel. John is a writer, lawyer and a CivitellaRanieri Fellow. He has also been shortlisted twice by the Caine Prize for African Writing.
*Chika Unigwe’s Night Dancer,published by Jonathan Cape, focusses on the young protagonist’s search for identity and her consequent reappraisal of her mother’s values. Chika Unigwe is a writer and the 2012 winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, with her novel On Black Sisters Street. Unigwe sits on the Board of Trustees of pan-African literary initiative Writivism, and was recently appointed a judge for the Manbooker Prize, 2017.
*Season of Crimson Blossoms is a novel set in conservative northern Nigeria. It focusses on unusual love affairs between characters, as well as ambiguities in religion and politics. Published by Cassava Republic Press, Season of Crimson Blossoms is Ibrahim’s debut novel. Ibrahim has won the BBC African Performance Prize and the Amatu Braide Prize for Prose. He is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013) and a CivitellaRanieri Fellow (2015).
The Chairman of the Panel of Judges for the prize is Prof. Dan Izevbaye, a well-respected literary critic and professor of Literature in English. Prof. Izevbaye has been visiting lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury, visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania, University of Benin, and University of Fort Hare, South Africa. He has been external examiner or curriculum consultant at University of the West Indies.
Other judges are Asabe Usman Kabir, professor of Oral and African Literatures at UsmanuDanfodiyo University, Sokoto and IsidoreDiala, first winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism and professor of African literature in the Department of English, Imo State University, Owerri.
Other members of the Advisory Board, besides Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, are Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education, former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and president of the West-African Linguistic Society (2004-2013).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara for his volume of poetry, The Dreamer, His Vision (co-winner 2005 – poetry); Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, Chants of a Minstrel (co-winner 2005 poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2006 – drama) for his book Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008 – prose) for her novel Yellow Yellow; EsiabaIrobi (2010 – drama) who won the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011 – children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock and Chika Unigwe (2012 – prose), with her novel, On Black Sisters’ Street, Tade Ipadeola (2013 – poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testamentsand Sam Ukala (2014-drama) with his play, Iredi War.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2016 Prize is for prose fiction and comes with a cash prize of $100, 000. Next year’s prize will be for poetry. A total of 173 entries for the prize were received this year.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Nigeria Prize for Science are some of Nigeria LNG Limited’s numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.