03 October 2013, Lagos – As the count down to October 9, date for the announcement of the winner of the 2013 edition of The Nigerian Prize for Literature draws closer, one thing at the mind of many is the question who goes home with the $100, 000 coveted prize?
Except in 2009, when no winner emerged, The Nigerian Prize for Literature, an annual literary competition instituted by NLNG in 2004 to honour the author of the best book of the current year or the previous three years has produced winners. The prize rotates amongst four literary genres—prose fiction, poetry, drama & children’s literature and this year’s prize is for poetry and is expected to produce a winner based on the quality of the books shortlisted.
Penultimate week, the Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for Literature which is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited released the final shortlist of three Poets for the 2013 edition of the prize.
The three shortlisted writers, are Tade Ipadeola (The Sahara Testaments), Amu Nnadi (Through the window of a sandcastle) and Promise Ogochukwu (Wild Letters). And come the 9th of October, 2013, the eventual winner of the competition will be announced at a World Press Conference.
The final shortlist of three follows an initial shortlist of eleven; Obi Nwakamma, Afam Ake, Ede Amatoritsero, Nnadi Amu, Iquo Eke and Ogochukwu Promise. Others were Egbewo G’ebinyo, Gomba Obari, Tade Ipadeola, Launko Okinba and Raji Remi.
The journey to the last three was not easy, it started with a total of 201 books submitted for this year’s prize, from which 11 were longlisted and finally to the last three standing. As the literary community anxiuosly awaits that day,what is on the minds of many now, is who will take home the prize as the last three standing are seasoned writers who have all that it takes to win the prize.
A look the last three reveals that, all the three writers are based at home, contrary to the fear that the foreign-based Nigerian writers would emerge again, as was the case last year when the Belgian-based Chika Unigwe won the prose prize.
Poet and Lawyer, Tade Ipadeola who lives in Ibadan from where he writes and practices law, he has authored three volumes of poetry along with other published short stories and essays. He is the current President of PEN International, Nigeria Centre, an organization which promotes literature and advocates freedom of expression.
For Amu Nnadi, his debut Poetry won the maiden edition of ANA/NDDC Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry. He is also the author of pilgrim’s passage. Nnadi, who is renowned for writing poetry without punctuation and capital letters as well as publishes without any personal data and name, lives in Port Harcourt, and currently works at the Niger Delta Development Commission.
Armed with a PhD in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan, Ogochukwu Promise has published several literary works including novels, children’s literature, short stories, drama, poetry and essays. In 2005, Ogochukwu was on the shortlist of three for The Nigeria Prize for Literature with her volume of poetry, Naked Among These Hills. Ogochukwu lives in Lagos, Nigeria, where she is actively involved in various charity programmes and activities.
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 2004 – poetry); Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry Chants of a Minstrel(co-winner 2004 poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2005 – drama) for his book Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy.
Others were KaineAgary (2008 – prose) for her novel Yellow Yellow; Esiaba Irobi (2010 – drama) who clinched 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.
– Japhet Alakam & Prisca Sam-Duru, Vanguard