Three Nigerians Akwaeke Emezi, Bolaji Odofin and Noo Saro Wiwa have being awarded this year’s Miles Morland Foundation. Emezi and Odofin with receive 18,000 pounds each which is about six million naira for their work in process while Wiwa will receive 27,000 pounds which is about nine million pounds for her work in progress.
The Literary Director of the foundations Michela Wrong in her comment said “Women writers began emerging as an unstoppable force a year ago but this year it was a rout. All five scholarships have gone to women, despite the fact that overall there were more male than female applicants. Women dominated both the long list sent to readers and the shortlist that went to the judges. Of the twenty-one writers on the short list nineteen were women.”
According to Wrong “The applications came from across the continent, 23 African countries in all, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya dominating as usual. The Judges gave three Scholarships to Nigerians, all very different writers. We were impressed by the explosion of literary energy coming from West Africa. We know there is also a wealth of creativity and talent in East Africa and hope that next year that will be reflected in the Scholarships. Overall, the Foundation received 345 applications, down from 2014’s 482. The overall number has dropped, but we felt that individual applications were of a higher quality, suggesting that prospective writers now have a better grasp of what the scholarship offers and entails. Many writers are making second attempts, a development we encourage.”
With the Scholarship Emezi will work on The Death of Vivek Oji, a novel in which a mixed race couple mourn the loss of their adult child – found murdered in the market place. What begins as a tale of loss becomes an investigation of sexuality, gender identity and intolerance. The judges praised Emezi’s prose style and her ability to weave narrative and character towards a potentially brilliant work of imagination
Odofin will work on her novel Ye Gods, having been awarded the scholarship. The novel is about deities of Nigeria. The bold ambition of this proposal delighted the judges who were inspired by Odofin’s desire to use humour to comment on Nigeria’s recent history, religion and the confluence of belief systems.
Wiwa is to focus on a Non-fiction with the scholarship. The book will be on the lives of Africans who have chosen to live in China. It will shed light on relations between the Africans in this diaspora and the Chinese. The judges were inspired by Saro-Wiwa’s submission and impressed by her approach to a topic of vast political, economic and social relevance.
This year, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey chaired the judges accompanied by Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland.The two other scholars awarded are South Africa’s Karen Jennings and Sudan’s Fatin Abbas