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Globacom Sponsors 4th Edition of Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa

Globacom Limited, in a move that is commendable, has partnered with the Lumina Foundation to become the major sponsor of the fourth edition of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. The names of all the authors on the long list of the prize, and their book titles, have also been announced.

Professor Wole Soyinka, flanked by the 2010 winners of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature: Kopano Matwla and Wale Okediran.

Globacom Limited, in a move that is commendable, has partnered with the Lumina Foundation to become the major sponsor of the fourth edition of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. The names of all the authors on the long list of the prize, and their book titles, have also been announced.

This is great news for literature in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. In a time when it seems like most companies and organisations would rather sponsor entertainment programmes, when it seems like events that promote literature and scholarship “don’t sell”, this giant stride by Globacom deserves all the praise it can get and all the media attention coming its way.

The previous three editions of the biennial literary event had solely been administered by the Lumina Foundation. At a recent press conference organised by the foundation, the Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Mrs. Francesca Yetunde Emanuel, said the foundation was privileged to have Globacom as partners.

‘Globacom’s huge financial support admirably demonstrates corporate citizenship, a Nigerian ethos and an African outlook. Together, in appreciating our authors, we appreciate ourselves better as Africans. In exploring the themes, issues and topics raised by these artists, we ennoble and educate ourselves and make ourselves better heard,’ she said.

The telecommunications giant is also excited about the opportunity. The Director of Events and sponsorship at Globacom, Mr. Bode Opeseitan, said that Globacom’s partnership, to sponsor the Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, would help improve the reading culture and the quality of books produced across Africa.

‘We believe that successful partnership between Wole Soyinka’s Prize for Literature in Africa and Globacom will see the emergence of more Soyinkas and others in the nearest future, thus fulfilling the objective of the project which is to discover, recognise, and reward the best work produced by an African,’ Opeseitan said.

The Executive Secretary of the Lumina Foundation, Dr. Promise Ogochukwu Okekwe, commended the media for the support it has given the foundation since inception. She also announced the 15 authors and their titles on this year’s long list. The 15 selected authors are from seven African countries – South Africa, Mali, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, Gambia and Kenya. 8 Nigerian authors made the list. A total of 402 entries were received from authors from 26 African countries. The full long list is as follows:

The Beauty I Have Seen by Tanure Ojaide
Bitter Chocolate by Toyin Adewale Gabriel
That Other Country by  Hyginus Ekuwuazi
The Book of the Dead by Kgebetli Moele
The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt
On Black Sister’s Street by Chika Unigwe
The African American by Dike Ogu Chukwumerije
Roses and Bullets by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo
Young Blood by Sifiso Mzobe
The Colour of Power by Marie Heese
Pride of the Spider Clan by Odili Ujubuonu
Lazarus Effect by H. J. Golakai
Fallout by Sue Rabie
The Thin Line by Arja Sala Franca
Only a Canvass by Olushola Olugbesan

From 2014, the prize will deviate from its original format – purely for prose fiction. Now it will alternate across all genres of literature. The fifth edition in 2014 will feature prose fiction entries – a full length novel or collection of short stories by a single author. In 2016, it will be drama, in 2018 poetry, the year 2020 will feature and essays (on political and human right issues).

Previous winners of the prize include Sefi Atta for her novel Everything Good Will Come and Nnedi Okoroafor Mbachu for Zahrah The WIndseeker.

The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa was established by The Lumina Foundation in 2005. It was set up in honour of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in literature to celebrate excellence in writing, and promote scholarship, making books available and affordable. The prize is open to writers of African origin.

The panel of judges for the 2012 edition is made up of persons from South Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, and South Africa. The shortlist is expected to be announced later this month, while the prize will be presented early September.

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