At the exciting and well-attended grand finale of the 2nd Abuja Literary Festival, which held on December 19, at the International Conference Centre, winners of the 2009 AWF National Literary Contest were announced by the chairman of the panel of judges, Professor Barth Oshionebo.
The contest which debuted last year with entries restricted to the Federal Capital Territory featured an expanded edition this time, opening up the contest to Nigerian writers within and outside the country, and with an international category for short story writers all over the world. A landmark addition is the innovative introduction of a category for literary criticism.
According to the organisers entries were received from as far as Canada despite the limited submission time frame, and a total of over two hundred entries were received. While the judges were enthralled by some interesting things being done across the genres, they were also disappointed by a variety of glaring insufficiencies that led to the disqualification of several entries or the non-emergence of winners in some categories. Indeed one of the judges noted the wide disparity between what emerged as the sole winner and the other entries in one of the categories in the following words; “if it were a hundred metres dash (the winner) would have breasted the tape a clean hour before (the others).”
There were several poignant moments during the ceremony including when the Ibrahim Tahir Prize for Fiction was announced. Dr Tahir, a leading northern academic, politician and novelist, had only recently passed away.
The following were adjudged winners:
Exclusively for writers resident in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – that is Abuja and the Council Areas of Abaji, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje and Kwali.
(a) Short Story
1. “On the Hot Seat” – Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
2. “Heart of Steel” –Abundance Jona-Effiong
3. “Rites of Passage” - Mike Ekunno
Honourable mention: "Chapters From Dante" - Abdulnasir Imam; “Someone Should Know” – Azih Ifeoma
1. “Cosmic Romance” – Paul Allen Oche
2. “To My Left Hand” – Owojecho Omoha
3. “Us” – Ozioma Izuora
Honurable mention: “Fashion Statements” – Aniete James Okuku; “The Hymeneal Night” – Tyessi Kuni; “Who Is To Blame?” – Omene Omena
1. “The Family Meeting” – Ozioma Izuora
2. “Green Bus” – Oluchi Agbanyim,
3. “Choices” – Edeimu Daniel Omoghene
Honurable mention: “Pride of the Potter’s Vessel” – Obilor Jonathan Chinedu
This section is in two-parts and is open to Nigerian creative writers and scholars regardless of where they are domiciled.
Part 1: Creative Writing
(A) Cyprian Ekwensi Prize for Short Stories endowed by Emzor Pharmaceuticals.(Manuscripts and published works)
1. “Houdini and Other Marvels” – Rotimi Babatunde
2. “Fires” – Bolaji Odofin
3. “A Fistful of Tales” – Ayodele Arigbabu
Honourable mention: “The Length of Light” – Unoma Azuah
(B) T. M. Aluko Prize for a first book of Fiction (Published works only)
1. “The Abyssinian Boy” – Onyeka Nwelue
2. “Personal Angle” – Fatima Alkali
(C) Ibrahim Tahir Prize for Fiction (Manuscripts and published works)
1. “Personal Angle” - Fatima Alkali
2. “The Abyssinian Boy“ - Onyeka Nwelue
3. “Houdini and Other Marvels“ - Rotimi Babatunde
Honourable mention: “Edible Bones” - Unoma Azuah; “A Fistful of Tales“ - Ayodele Arigbabu“; “A Question of Marriage” - Auwalu Hamza
(D) Mamman Vatsa Prize for Poetry in Pidgin English sponsored by the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) (Manuscripts and published works)
Honourable mention: “Elefant Don Fall and Other Poems” – Raymond I. Anyanwu
(E) Carlos Idzia Ahmad Prize for a first book of Poetry (Published works only)
“I Am Memory” - Jumoke Verissimo
(F) Anthony Agbo Prize for Poetry endowed by Senator Anthony Agbo (Manuscripts and published works)
1. “What the Sea Told Me” - E. E. Sule
2. “I Am Memory” – Jumoke Verissimo
3. “Home Is Where It Hurts – Unoma Azuah
Honourable mention: “It Grows in Winter and Other Poems” – Chinyere Grace Okafor; “Piccolo” – Chuma Isidienu
(G) Zulu Sofola Prize for Drama (Manuscripts and published works)
1. “Pandemonium” – Ayo Adewumi
2. “Requiem” – Isaac Ogezi
3. “Blood For Palmwine” – Ozioma Izuora
Honourable mention: “Devil is a Young Lady” – Elvis Ogenyi; “Eagle-Eye” - Oluchi Agbanyim; “Sleep Na Wahala” – Africa-Zahemen Osondu Ukoh
Part 2 – Critical Writing
(A) Ime Ikiddeh Prize for Literary Criticism in Fiction, endowed by the Akwa Ibom State Government
1. “Infraction and Change in the Nigerian Feminist Novel: Zaynab Alkali and Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo” – Sule E. Egya
2. “Do You Think I am Mad? Between Consciousness, Madness and Creativity in African Literature” – Owojecho Omoha
(B) Donatus Nwoga Prize for Literary Criticism in Poetry
1. “The Ecopoetics of Ezra Pound and Christopher Okigbo” - Obiwu Iwuanyanwu
2. "Dimensions of Productivity in the Poetry of Chinua Achebe" - Ikeogu Oke
3. “In this Land We Love with Pain: A Reading of Toyin Adewale’s Poetry” – Sule E. Egya
(C) Oyin Ogunba Prize for Literary Criticsm in Drama sponsored by Alhaji Ibrahim Nasir Arab, Clerk to the National Assembly
No entry deemed worth the prize.
(D) Sunday Anozie Prize for Literary Theory (including literary history, criticism of non-fiction, and criticism of criticism/theory)
No entry deemed worth the prize.
The panel of judges comprised Professor Barth Oshonebo, Dr Dan Omatsola, Professor Kanchana Ugbabe, Dr Dul Johnson, Toyin Adewale-Gabriel, Aracelli Aipoh, Crispin Odobuobok-Mfon Abasi, Chris Otaigbe, Elnathan John, Emaka Agbayi, Dr Cecilia Kato, Dr Kolawole and the U. S. based Professor Maureen Ngozi Eke.
Meanwhile the deadline for the International Category of the Contest (Section 111), is December 31,2009. Winners will be announced on the AWF website by the last week of March 2010.
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