Blaise Ndala’s novel Dans le venture du Congo was declared the winner of Prix Ivoire 2021 on October 20, 2021.
The Prix Ivoire is a literary award open to writers from Africa and its Diasporas created by Akwaba Culture, an Ivorian law association, in 2008. It is sponsored by the Côte d’Ivoire Ministry of Culture, Francophonie the International Organization of La Francophonie, the French Embassy in Abidjan and the Librairie de France Group of Ivory Coast.
Previous winners of the Prix Ivoire have been Isabelle Rochet (2019), Gauz (Armand), Côte d’Ivoire (2018), Johary Ravaloson (Madagascar) (2017), Marijosé Alie (Martinique) (2016), Kettly Mars (Haïti) (2015), Bahaa Trabelsi (Maroc) (2014), Hemley Boum (Cameroun) (2013), Mariama N’doye (Sénégal) (2012), Frédéric Grah Mel (Côte d’Ivoire) (2011), Elisabeth Ewombè-Moundo (Cameroun) (2010), Tiburce Koffi (Côte d’Ivoire) (2009), Racine Kane (Sénégal) (2008). The award was not awarded in 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
From the 103 texts from 19 countries entered, the shortlist was announced on August 29 before the winner selected by a panel chaired by Werewere-Liking (writer, playwright, actress) and composed of Hélène Lobé (writer), Foua Ernest de Saint Sauveur (writer, honorary president of the Association Writers from C ôtete d ‘Ivoire), Auguste Gnaléhi (literary critic) and Henri N’ koumo (literary critic) was revealed to the public.
The winner, announced by Akwaba Culture President Isabelle Kassi-Fofana, is Blaise Ndala for (Congo/Quebec) Dans le venture du Congo, Memoire Dencrier/Vallesse. The judges’ citation stated;
“The jury awarded a writer whose greedy tongue is open to a long word with drawers. Revisiting the colonial history of Congo and bringing it into dialogue with the question of Black in a world that seems to be moving forward without it, the winner offers a wide, funny, sometimes caustic narrative that fits into the broad question of folds and bridges of identity.”
He gets a two million CFA francs (about 3,000 euros) cheque, a trophy and attends the Geneva Book Fair this year.
Reacting to the win Blaise Ndala said on his social media channels;
“ABIDJAN, THE PRIZE / It was when I left the Canada Pavilion at the Frankfurt Book Fair that I discovered the news as touching as surprising: Dans le venture du Congo wins the Ivory Prize 2021. Thank you to the members of the jury for this award awarded from Africa (its weight is all the more important in my eyes for this novel), to Akwaba Culture Prix-Ivoire to be this flag bearer of our letters as it should exist by dozens, to the Vallesse editions that rise with brio the challenge to open this novel to the continent, to Rapha ëll Thierry, Laure and Pierre Astier as well as the whole team of the Astier-Pecher agency for the never-before-seen adventure, to my ′′ family ′′ of the heart of Abidjan that I look forward to meeting… Congratulations to all the finalists whose books seduced the reading committee, especially Souad Jamai (Morocco) who received a special mention for “LE SERMENT DU DERNIER MESSAGER.”
The judges also gave a special mention to Souad Jamai (Morocco) for his novel LE SERMENT DU DERNIER MESSAGER (The Oath of the Last Messenger) (ed. The Crossroads, 348 p). In their citation they said;
“The jury commends the quality of this forward-looking book, open to our future, to lucid tone, to humanist singing that calls the best attention to our world condemned to face the selfish interest of companies at the expense of human lives. Against low blows and compromises, the author’s heart’s cry is aimed at restoring man to his ontological human values so that tomorrow will carry lives.”