Ugandan Acan Innocent Immaculate is the Writivism Prize 2016 winner announced at ceremonies in Kampala, Uganda on 27th and 28th August 2016. The Okot p’Bitek Poetry Prize for literature was announced then rescinded by the awarding organisation.
Unlike in the past where only prose was awarded, the Writivism Prizes this year were for prose and poetry. The previous winners of the prose prize were Saaleha Idrees Bamjee (2014) and Pemi Aguda (2015).
The Okot p’Bitek Poetry Prize for literature, which would run only once, was handed out on Saturday 27th August with a ceremony at the National Museum in Kampala. The events included several performances including a stand out one by Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile this year’s resident Botswana citizen, it looks like it will be one Motswana at a time at Writivism Festival clearly, who blew away the crowd with an original presentation.
The reason we were there was for the prize giving and the presentation was to be made my Okot p’Bitek daughter and a poet in her own right Juliane Okot Bitek. Her poetry collection 100 Days was one of the many many books that launched at the festival in the one week it was on.
Her presentation was made remotely from Vancouver via video and she told us a bit about her father and why they came up with the prize as well as how she and fellow judge Duduzile Mabaso came up with the winner. She then went on to the give the name of the winner; Redscar McOdindo K’Oyuga. Weirdly enough, Redscar who is a doctor was not on hand to receive his prize as he was in Kisumu in the running for yet another prize at the Nyanza Literary Festival. I suspect that these festivals really need to coordinate their dates if they want to nominate the same writers and poets for their prizes in the future.
If you have eleven minutes please watch the YouTube video embedded below as Juliane gave the presentation;
Sunday 28th August 2016 was the final day of the festival and as usual, the big event on that evening was the presentation of the winner of the third Writivism prose prize. There were presentations here too but for me, I was blown away, yet again, by Sitawa Namwalie as he recounted her poem We Left Our House to Go Home. It has been seen more than once by this observer but it still continues to excite. Also making a memorable return from last year’s fete was Afri with her song Askari. I heart that performer so much.
Then the presentations came. There were speeches from Renee Edwige Dro and the REAL Richard Ali which were in English and French explaining how the prize became Francophonised, #FrancophoneLivesMatter after all, as well as explaining the process of the choosing the winner.
The shortlistees Aito Osemegbe Joseph, Gloria Mwaniga Minage, Laure Gnagbé Blédou, Abu Amirah and Acan Innocent Immaculate were then asked to go on stage and a winner was announced. Following in the tradition of Writivism in the last two years
an attractive young woman who could easily push the Writivism cause a brilliant young writer emerged and her name was Acan Innocent Immaculate. The reaction of one of Uganda’s leading writers Dilman Dila when she was announced winner?
A good story. Acan is sure going to rule African scifi someday. https://t.co/ehZCEaqBDb
— Dilman Dila (@dilmandila) August 29, 2016
Acan who is also a doctor, she is pursuing a medical degree at Makerere University, was given the prize money of US$500 and the recognition of her peers. She will also be attending a writing fellowship at Stellenbosch University as part of her prize. Also in her list of goodies is her image will now adorn all things Writivism from the Facebook page and other communication channels. You can read her award-winning story here.
We wish the winner of the prize all the best in her year in the driving seat. Both of them overachieving doctors who are embarrassing the rest of us who claim to be hobbyists while the rest of us struggle to write coherent tweets.
The win by the poetry prize was rescinded by the prize givers after it emerged that the poet who submitted had a history of plagiarising work of other poets.