Obinna Udenwe was announced the winner of the Chinua Achebe Prize for Literature 2021 at a ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria on Saturday, November 6, 2021.
Chinua Achebe is the author of Things Fall Apart (1958) the most well-read novel written by an African. His other novels were other No Longer At Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah. He is also the author of many works of nonfiction. His influence was also felt in his role as a pioneer of the Heinemann African Writers Series which introduced many African writers to the world.
The Nigerian author was the inaugural president of the Association of Nigerian Authors, a non-profit organisation to promote Nigerian literature when it was founded in 1981. For many years, this was the only organisation that brought many writers together in Nigeria especially in the dark period in the 1980s.
The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) unveiled a prize in honour of their founder president and one of the most famous names in Nigerian and African literature for this their 40th year. The new Chinua Achebe Prize for Nigerian Writing would be awarded to the best novel published by a Nigerian writer in each calendar year. The prize got a critical shot in the art when Anambra State, Achebe’s home state, gave the prize money of 1,000,000 Naira which would be handed out to the winner.
The shortlist for the first edition of the Chinua Achebe Prize was announced on November 1 before the winner was made known at the Association of Nigerian Authors convention at the Mamman Vatsa Writers’ Village, Abuja. The winner for this year is Colours of Hatred by Obinna Udenwe.
Obinna Udenwe in a statement after winning the award stated;
I feel so delighted and honoured to be the first writer ever to receive this Prize – more so as it is instituted in honour of the late lord and father of literature, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
Growing up, Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ and ‘Arrow of God’ were great inspiration. The successes recorded by these two books showed me the possibilities inherent in storytelling. I learned how stories can change a people and change how they are perceived, as well as entertain and leave lasting impression.
It feels surreal now having to attach this legend’s name to my works. This is a great accomplishment, for me.