There was a wellspring of emotion unleashed when popular Abuja based writer Abubabar Adam Ibrahim was announced the winner of the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016.
If there is one flaw with the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature it is that the event is not designed for writers to shine. Unlike other award ceremonies where the writer stands before his peers and the public and soaks in the adulation, this one is one for the judges to announce the winner and people watching remotely to clap. The side show that is the interwebs for reactions becomes the only space to get reactions.
If the interwebs could break over a literary announcement, we saw how it could work yesterday as Abubakar Adam Ibrahim was announced the winner of NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016. The emotion was on display as everyone who has ever taken a photo with the winner unleashing it and congratulating him.
The newest Nigerian millionaire Abubakar took to Facebook to give his “acceptance speech” and as you can expect from award winning writer it was good. He acknowledged his fellow shortlistees Elnathan John and Chika Unigwe as well as the people who do the work on the book like editors and first draft readers. He also remembered his late father on this day. His full statement read;
What do I say on a day like today?
How do I respond to all the messages, posts, texts, and everything else you have thrown my way? How do I say thank you to all those who took it upon themselves to pray for me and wish me well? How do I appreciate all those who believed in me and my work? Who had faith?
Today is not for me. It is for every writer who sits before the laptop and beats stories out of that keyboard, because he believes. It is for every wife or husband or lover of the writer who endures the long hours we dedicate to this craft, because they too believe. It is for every parent who takes pride at the pieces we churn out even if they can’t read it, who save every newspaper cutting with our faces or names on them. It is for the people who have never read what we have written but still wish us well.
But most especially, it is for those people who believe so much that they take their time to read and give feedback, the editors whose names are never mentioned and friends who endure our cumbersome first drafts and are sincere enough to say bend down and work harder, those ones whose name might never be on the book. It is for the publishers, the ones who have faith and say, whatever it is you write, we will publish it because we believe.
What do you say on a day like today to Elnathan John, friend, brother, with whom we have traveled and talked, soared and slayed and conquered and beat down barriers? I love you, you know. I know you know.
What do you say to Chika Unigwe, amazon, warrior, friend and bearer of the torch? Any of you could have won and the world would have been just as pleased.
What do say on a day like today, when you wish your father were here to hear this news, to hold you and say, son, I am proud of you.
I may not be able to respond to every message or text or call but this is to everyone, all of you, friends, well wishers and fellow dreamers, thank you very much. May a thousand amaranths blossom in your garden and may all your season be full of colour.
With lots of love
Also giving congratulatory messages were Elnathan John and Chika Unigwe.
Congratulations to @Moonchild509 !!! Well done !! — chika unigwe (@chikaunigwe)
Congratulations to @Moonchild509 for winning the Nigeria Prize for Literature! — Elnathan John (@elnathan_john)
Also giving a reaction was Abubakar’s publisher Parresia with CEO Azafi Omoluabi-Ogosi gushing on her Facebook:
So my siblings say I’m no better than a water works corporation. But good things are sometimes celebrated with buckets and buckets of happy tears, and I have a whole load to spare. Thank you Peeps for always having my back.
Thank you to Abubakar Adam Ibrahim for keeping faith and letting us stand by you inspite of our faults.
Thank you Richard Ali, for this child called Parrésia and the journey it has taken. The paths. The stumbling. But it will trudge on.
Thank you to my husband Ebikeniye Ogosi and to Humphery Ndem for stepping in.
Thank you for the existence of Nigerian and African Literature, for the doors it has opened and for filling our minds with beautiful words.
Thank you Chika Unigwe and Elnathan John.
Thank you above all to the Being who leads us on and makes the impossible possible.
They also reminded you that you could buy the book on their official Facebook page;
Huge congratulations to @Moonchild509 — winner of the NLNG Prize. A fantastic writer and all-round wonderful person! I celebrate you.
— Lola Shoneyin (@lolashoneyin) October 12, 2016