Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) hosted a vibrant book party in Lagos over the weekend to honor the longlist of 11 playwrights for The Nigeria Prize for Literature in its 2023 edition.
The event brought together literary enthusiasts, featured readings from the longlisted plays, and provided a platform for engaging panel discussions with the playwrights, some of whom participated in person while others joined virtually.
This marked the first public gathering of the longlisted playwrights since their names were announced by the esteemed panel of judges, led by Professor Ameh Dennis Akoh, a Drama and Critical Theory professor at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State.
The panel also included distinguished members such as Professor Osita Catherine Ezenwanebe and Dr. Rasheedah Liman.
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Among the playwrights who attended the event in person were Victor S. Dugga (Gidan Juju), Obari Gomba (Grit), Cheta Igbokwe (Home Coming), Christopher Anyokwu (The Boat People), and Abuchi Modilim (The Brigadiers of a Mad Tribe). Notable authors Olubunmi Familoni (When Big Masquerades Dance Naked), Olatunbosun Taofeek (Where Is Patient Zero), and Henry Akubuiro (Yamtarawala – The Warrior King) were also present.
Abideen Abolaji Ojomu (Ojuelegba Crossroads), Ade Adeniji (Dance of The Sacred Feet), and Bode Sowande (The Spellbinder) joined the panel session virtually, contributing to the insightful discussions.
Mr. Andy Odeh, the General Manager of External Relations and Sustainable Development at NLNG, emphasized the significance of the annual book party, stating that it brings NLNG together with the literary community to foster excellence, creativity, and the promotion of outstanding books to both Nigerians and the global audience.
“Nineteen (19) years of successful administration have produced 17 winning works, and over $1 million has been won. This prize stands out as the biggest and most prestigious literary prize in Africa, and one of the world’s biggest and most reputable. We are happy that today presents an opportunity to interact with these 11 playwrights. We are just two steps away from announcing the winner of the $100,000 prize in October.
“We instituted The Nigeria Prize for Literature because we were concerned that standards of reading, writing, editing, proof-reading and publishing were drastically falling in Nigeria, a country that largely founded and dominated the African Writers Series; a country that is also known to have produced reputable writers and winning works. Today, we are glad that Nigeria can showcase great literary works published in Nigeria. Our library and bookshelves have been enriched with many great works by Nigerian writers. The Nigeria Prize for Literature alone has received over 2400 entries in the four genres, many of which are top-quality entries,” he said.
Ropo Ewenla, a member of the CORA Board, explained that the book party concept emerged from a review of the prize in 2010, aiming to offer more support to the publishing industry. Ewenla noted that the book reading event provides authors with a unique opportunity to engage with their audience and discuss their works, underscoring that the $100,000 prize makes the competition one of the most fiercely contested literary awards globally.
The 11 longlisted entries were meticulously selected from a pool of 143 submissions for this year’s prize, which is focused on the Drama genre. The announcement of the winning entry is eagerly anticipated in October 2023.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature, an initiative that annually rotates among four genres – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature – plays a pivotal role in promoting and recognizing literary achievements in Nigeria.