In spite of the hype accompanying last night’s Caine Prize win for Okwiri Oduor, the reality is that the biggest prize in African literature is actually the one the Nigerians give to their best author. The Nigerian Prize for African Literature sees that one writer going home with US$100,000 rotating yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.
Last year’s award went to Tade Ipadeola for his book The Sahara Testaments. Also winning since the awards were born 2004 are;
2005- Gabriel Okara and Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto for poetry work, The Dreamer, His Vision.
2006 – Ahmed Yerima for the drama Hard Ground.
2007 – Mabel Segun for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre and Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo for her children’s literature book My Cousin Sammy.
2008 – Kaine Agary for her prose Yellow-Yellow.
2010 – Esiaba Irobi who received his prize posthumously for the drama Cemetery Road.
2011 – Adeleke Adeyemi for his children’s literature book The Missing Clock.
2012 – Chika Unigwe for her novel On Black Sister’s Street.
The next group of Nigerian Prize for Literature possible winners were on Sunday announced with the advisory Board for the prize present. The board led by Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo includes Professor Jerry Agada and Professor Ben Elugbe as members.
It was presented by chairperson, panel of judges for this year’s prize, Prof. Charity Angya, professor of Theatre and Drama and Vice-Chancellor, Benue State University, after two months of intensive scrutiny. Other members of the panel of judges include Prof. Ahmed Yerima, a past laureate of the prize and professor of Theatre Arts, Redeemer’s University, Mowe, Ogun State and Prof. Akanji Nasiru, a well-respected scholar and professor of Performing Arts, Bowen University Iwo, Osun State. The shortlist of eleven writers was drawn from 124 entries received from Nigerian authors and include;
- Abba, John Friday – Alekwu Night Dance
- Adaofuyi, Patrick Ogbe – Canterkerous Passengers
- Cole, Soji –Maybe Tomorrow
- Edema, Paul – A plague of Gadflies
- Idada, Jude – Oduduwa, King of the Edos
- Momodu, Onshore Ruth – No fault of mine
- Ogezi, attah Isaac – Under a Darkling Sky
- Okoh, Julie – Our wife Forever
- Solanke, Ade – Pandora’s Box
- Udoka, Arnold- Akon
- Ukala, Sam-Iredi War
The shortlist will be announced in September this year followed by a winner in October.