Adult Literature Category
General Comments and Observations
The Jury of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) received a total of 137 entries across nine categories spanning the genres of poetry, drama and prose for the ANA Awards 2011 from writers resident both in Nigeria and abroad. Several entries were published abroad, some of these dealing with the experience of migrant Nigerians. Others were surprisingly excursions back in time or purely reminiscences of African cultures and values.
The general output of Nigerian creative writers who competed for this year’s awards is very positive. However, as could be seen from the following observations, desirable improvements have to be made to ensure steady rise in quality of Nigerian literature in English.
a. Elegance of Language: Some writers care less about the elegance of their language especially in terms of rhythm, punctuation and concord. The problem seems to be rooted in their inordinate ambition to become celebrities without humility and diligence necessary for producing solid works of art. Since the English Language is not native to Nigeria, it is necessary for Nigerian literary artists to subject themselves to the rigour and diligence of reading and editing their drafts several times with the aid of good dictionaries and considering appropriate usages. Among the native speakers of the language, only writers who pay a great price for style reach the top. Aspiring and budding writers need to learn and master the techniques of writing that apply in the different genres.
b. Self-Adulation: Some writers still believe that it is necessary to live in the world of bloated ego by indulging in self-praise when involved in the exercise of creativity. This is easily observed in their prefaces/introductions and blurbs that accompany their works as well as in their preference for ornate style padded with distracting unwarranted images. Simplicity, humility and sincerity count a lot in the act of writing, the quality of the output being always reserved to well-informed readers to determine. One writer even submitted one unpublished work as three different titles in three categories, an act that is deceptive and therefore unethical!
c. Publishing: As has always been pointed out, the quality of the packaging of the work matters a lot. It is however disheartening to notice that often works issued by established publishing houses read like pieces that have not been rigorously assessed, proof—read and copy-edited. Poor quality in publishing of works gives very bad publicity to the country. Unpublished works should include a synopsis of their works as part of the manuscript.
d. Adherence to Prize Categories: It appears that beyond sticking to genres, some writers do no fully understand the objective of the categorization of prizes. Sometimes, a work that should have been entered for a certain category is rather entered for another where its relevance is in doubt. In the Chevron Prize for Environmental Issues, for example, often works of high quality with little or no bearing to the issue of environment are found to have been entered. In addition to the relevance and appropriateness of the entries, there is the need for ANA to provide further clarification on each prize to make criteria for delineations more evident, particularly in the case of newly instituted prizes.
1. ANA/NDDC Flora Nwapa Prize for Women’s Writing (N100,000)
iii. Our Wife Forever by Julie Okoh
ii. Heart Trick by Joan Oji
i. Twilight at Terracotta Indigo by Umari Ayim (Award winner)
The text is an intriguing tale of love and betrayals among well-to-do society people situated in a Lagos milieu. Well composed and highly imaginative, it is strong on description with an impressionable and colourful sense of place, and a heightened sense of mystery and suspense. This is a well-crafted story about a search for personal identity, for a “real” self. A novel with a highly-relevant psychological outlook, Twilight at Terracotta Indigo invites the reader to join the female protagonist Marlene in regaining memory through an encounter with art. The novel’s interest in women, is captured through women’s conditions in marriage, memory, and search for selfhood and fulfillment.
2. ANA/JACARANDA Prize for Prose (N50,000)
ii. The Two Sparrows by Ida Offor
i. Sieged by Adamu Kyuka Usman (Award winner)
The text is a satiric bite on the fictional state “Bivan’s House.” It reveals a terrifying dichotomy between the rulers and the ruled, and between the rich and the poor. In Bivan’s House, politics has become the only route to wealth and it is a do-or-die affair.
3. ANA/Chevron Prize for Prose on Environmental Issues ($2,000)
Even established writers did not send in entries that agree with the criteria for environmental writing.
Only one merits being shortlisted. The award goes to:
i. The Poacher’s Daughter by J. C. Agunwamba (Award winner)
This story of this novel is focused on the environment and how struggles for its conservation can be pursued, not just at social levels, but also at family and interpersonal levels. The text is an intriguing tale of an exotic milieu where there are pro-environmentalists and those who make their living by poaching and surviving on a natural and richly endowed wildlife park. Amaka the female protagonist at the centre of the novel is an environmental activist in league with David, Chief Executive of the wildlife park. Torn between the love of several suitors, she must make a decision of who her true love is. The gender angle is introduced in this narration of the environment through the commitment of the girl, Amaka, who works hard to undermine the stereotype of being “the poacher’s daughter,” even at the risk of being sexually abused by men. The novel presents these attempts at sexually abusing Amaka in symbolic relationship with the abuse of the environment, a telling semiotic about respecting the productive “femaleness” of the environment.
4. ANA/NDDC Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize For Prose (N100,000)
iii. Twilight at Terracotta Indigo by Umari Ayim
ii. Roses and Bullets by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo
i. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin (Award winner)
In this lusciously gripping text, Shoneyin offers a rare peep into a much-veiled milieu that straddles the hidden shadows of tradition and the modern society. Male impotence is a matter much whispered about, but cloaked under veils of impenetrability in a highly patriarchal society. While tradition has its ways of protecting the male ego in such matters, here Shoneyin presents characters that have been caught mid-air between tradition and modernity. The dialogue is engaging, engrossing and hilarious at the same time. The storyline is propelled through the author’s almost poetic manipulation of a dense metaphorical and artistic grid work of language rooted in both the oral tradition and the modern African city life reminiscent of Cyprian Ekwensian city landscape, and an Achebean delight in capturing situations with the use of African proverbs and epithets.
A captivating story about polygamy, childlessness, and family politics, expertly woven with blistering humour. To a large extent, a satire on masculinity and its “use” of womanhood as means for achieving its idea of fulfillment.
5. ANA/NDDC Gabriel Okara Prize for Poetry (N100,000)
No award is made. However, three entries merit honorable mention. These are:
i. The Ant Eaters by Kufre Ekanem
ii. Colourless Rainbow: Poetry of My Childhood by Senator Ihenyen
iii. My River by C. Otobotekere
6. ANA/James Ene Henshaw Prize for Playwriting (N150,000)
Nine entries were received; 3 published and 6 unpublished.
ii. Olubu by Isiaka Aliagan
i. The Scent of Crude Oil by Eni Jologho Umuko (Award winner)
The play which revolves around the central role of crude oil in the lives of the people of the Niger Delta, uses the scent of crude oil itself as a central symbol. It gives an insight into the issues such as illegal bunkering, kidnapping and the various developments embarked upon by government agencies, NGOs, and oil companies operating in the area to improve the lot of the people. Some of the suggestions proffered by the playwright to solve the problems of the area may well prove to be a contribution of panacea to the lingering crises.
A play in sixteen episodes focusing on illegal oil business, violence, and sabotage in the Niger-Delta region, it makes an important statement about the tragic consequences of these. The speeches of the characters are fairly well-handled, representing their social and cultural backgrounds in the Niger-Delta, as well as their individuality. Indeed, a relevant material for Theatre for Development and Participatory Performance Practice that could be deployed for re-orientation and consciousness-raising in the troubled region in Nigeria.
7. ANA/NDDC JP Clark Prize for Drama (N100,000)
22 entries received.
iii. Casket of Her Dreams by Isaac Attah Ogezi
ii. A Haunting Past By Julie Okoh
i. Ogidi Mandate by Olu Obafemi (Award winner)
This play in ten movements courageously and skillfully captures the underside of a past conflict between the Okun and the Nupe, bringing up the significance of cultural productions as modes of narrating and commenting on peace and conflict issues in a plural society. Supported with a flourish of song and dance that rouse and move action, the play arouses great interest in the subject of truth in the conversation between literature and history.
8. ANA/Cadbury Prize for Poetry ($1,000)
15 entries received.
iii. Ode on Lagos & Other Poetic Portraits By Jeff Unaegbu
ii. The Passions of Cupid by Abubakar Othman
i. The Beauty I Have Seen by Tanure Ojaide (Award winner)
The poet persona in this text is the minstrel that employs distinct peculiar styles to dwell on themes of love, travels to different parts of the world, corruption, and so on. The text engages in inter-textuality, histology and invocation of nature. Severally, there are indications of using “Mammy Wata” as his muse. The extensive range, experimentation and maturity of voice in this collection enhance the density and rich texture of the text giving it a wholesome aperture.
This marvelous collection of poems coherently presents the poetic experience as a movement in three interconnected configurations – the poet as a public commentator, as one who observes and sees what others do not see (or what they see but do not assign significance) and one united with and standing in symbolic relation with the land or culture. The three parts of the collection – “The Beauty I Have Seen”, “Doors of the Forest,” and “Flow & Other Poems” — feature poems that are laced with powerful imagery and descriptions of the natural phenomena, human action, and cultural politics. That “beauty” the poet has “seen” is what this collection tries to celebrate, comment on and define.
9. ANA/Esiaba Irobi Prize for Playwriting (N50,000)
Five entries received. Only one is merits being shortlisted. The award goes to:
i. Casket of Her Dreams by Isaac Attah Ogezi (Award winner)
Ogezi subtly deploys plot, diction, tone and characterization to vehemently attack the practice of forced child marriages in Muslim communities. The playwright brings his background in law into play as through the main character Zulaira as her trial unfolds in the law court. He interrogates religious bigotry and cultural biases that sustain this practice of early child marriage. By the exploits of the articulate nonconformist female protagonist aimed at preserving her dignity as a person and the integrity of her womanhood, the author lays bare his vision which optimistically points to the eventual change of the age-long tradition that subjugates women. The relevance of the play to current debates and campaigns on women’s rights, education, and sexuality is recognizable.
Children’s Literature Category
Professor Chidi T. Maduka, FNAL ____________Signed__12/11/2011___________
University of Port Harcourt Signature / Date
Professor Victor S. Dugga ____________Signed__12/11/2011___________
University of Jos Signature / Date
Mrs. Maria Ajima ____________Signed__12/11/2011___________
Benue State University Signature / Date
Dr. Obododimma Oha ____________Signed__12/11/2011___________
University of Ibadan Signature / Date
Children’s Literature Category
Let us begin by thanking the National Executive Council for giving us the mandate to be the Judges of the Children’s Literature. The team which comprises Dr. E. E. Sule of the University of Abuja as the Chairman, Poet John Asiedu Sarpong of Kaduna, and Professor Virginia Dike of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
It was an assignment we had to work day and night to bring out a good judgement. At the end of the day, we worked hard to accomplish our mission.
We were impressed with the quality of work as compared to last year’s entries. In addition to written expression, the themes and content are more appropriate and suitable for children of Nigeria.
The physical quality of the published titles is also commendable. Together, there were (24) Twenty Four titles in all the categories of four. The categories are as follows:
ANA/ATIKU ABUBAKAR PRIZE for children’s literature with eight entries; already published children’s books.
ANA/FUNTIME for children’s fiction with six entries.
ANA/MAZARIYYA PRIZE for teen authors (poetry) with one entry. This particular prize the Judges considered to strike it out because of insufficient entries.
At the end of the day, the following winners emerged in all the categories with the exception of ANA/MAZARIYYA PRIZE as already mentioned because of insufficient entries.
ANA/ATIKU ABUBAKAR PRIZE FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE
1. Preye and the Sea of Plastics by Fatima Akilu, and Mayowa and the Masquerade by Lola Shoneyin were joint winners for the first prize.
2. Eno’s story by Ayodele olufintude
ANA/FUNTIME FOR CHILDREN (PROSE)
1. Jide Meets a Ghost by Spencer Okoroafor (Winner)
2. The Lunar princess by Nnenna Ihebom
3. Akin’s Assignment by K. C Selman
ANA/LANTERN BOOKS PRIZE FOR CHILDREN’S FICTION
1. Chijike by Chinyere Obi-Obasi (Winner)
2. The Great Fall by Chinyere Obi-Obasi
3. The Blind’s Daughter by Ayo Kolapo
No shortlist because of insufficient entries, so there is no winner for the prize.
In all, the entries were lively written, interesting with good illustrations for children’s reading, except one or two of poor quality. It is highly commendable and wish future workshops should be organized for children’ Authors better improvement.
We thank the National Executives and members of ANA across the country. Long live ANA! Long live Nigeria and God Bless – Amen –
John Asiedu Sarpong