THE advisory board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature today announced Jude Idada’s Boom Boom, Dunni Olatunde’s Mystery at Ebenezer Lodge and O.T. Begho’s The Great Walls of Benin as finalists for the 2019 The Nigeria Prize for Literature, worth $100,000 and sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG.
Boom Boom by Idada highlights a common health issue in Nigeria, Sickle Cell Anaemia, and with it the pain, love and bonds of friendship that come with the daily struggles of the victims in fascinating and capturing storytelling. The book unveils the world of an eight year old boy who tries to find a way of saving his sister from Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that claimed the life of his mother.
Mystery at Ebenezer Lodge by Olatunde evokes nostalgic thrills of children adventures. The book is about the Ilesanmi children who were sent to their grandmother’s aunt for a week only to uncover a mystery of someone entering an old building without using the doors. It is a story about curiosity, riddles and problem solving.
O.T. Begho’s The Great Walls of Benin brings children’s attention to the myths of origin, set in the ancient Kingdom of Benin. Two children go on a quest after a harmless game of hide and seek, opening up a surreal world of culture and heritage.
The winner of the Prize will be announced at an award night on October 11.
Professor Obodimma Oha, chairman of the panel of judges for this year’s prize, is a Professor of Cultural Semiotics and Stylistics in the Department of English, University of Ibadan. Other members of the Panel include Professor Asabe Usman Kabir, Professor of Oral and African Literatures at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto and Dr. Patrick Oloko, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos who specialises in African Postcolonial Literature, Gender and Cultural Studies.
In selecting Boom Boom, Mystery at Ebenezer Lodge and The Great Walls of Benin, the judges reported that the books represent a very high degree of creativity. They stated that the books were highly didactic, yet coated in an absorbing and engaging narrative. The judges posited that the style of writing exhibited in the three books is suitable for children and helps provide clarity to the vicissitudes of life, spur healthy curiosity, build problem solving skills as well as promote the role of oral literature as an effective tool for disseminating knowledge to children.
The International Consultant to the Advisory Board for this year’s Prize is Kelvin Nyong Toh, Professor of English at University of Bamenda, Cameroun. The International Consultant advises the Advisory Board, alongside the final report by the judges, on the winning entry for the Prize.
The members of the Advisory Board are Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan; Professor Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education/former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors; and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and President of the West-African Linguistic Society (2004-2013).
Prof. Ayo Banjo, while announcing the finalists, reassured that his Board will retain the high literary standards the prize, remarking that it remains the most prestigious literary prize in Africa.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2004, poetry), Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto (co-winner, 2004, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his classic, Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book, Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book, The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012, prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play, Iredi War; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with his novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms (2016, prose); Ikeogu Oke with his collection of poetry, The Heresiad; (2017, poetry) and Soji Cole with his play, Embers (2018, drama).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2019 prize is for children’s literature. Next year’s competition will focus on prose fiction.
Nigeria LNG Limited remains committed to responsible corporate citizenship, and The Nigeria Prize for Literature is one of its numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.