Tanure Ojaide, Harriet Anena jointly win Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature


Tanure Ojaide and Harriet Anena are the joint winners of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature 2018 in Africa.

The announcement was made at a ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on Sunday, 9th December, 2018.

The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, worth US$10,000, is awarded every two years to the best book written by an African.

Previous winners of the prize include Sefi Atta for Everything Good Will Come in 2006 and Nnedi Okorafor, Zahrah the Windseeker in 2008.

In 2010, Kopano Matlwa who wrote Coconut and Wale Okediran who wrote Tenants of The House shared the honours while Sifiso Mzobe won it in 2012 for Young Blood. Akin Bello would take the honours in 2014 for his play The Egbon of Lagos.

EduCeleb.com gathered that this year’s edition of the prize was for poetry and there were 110 submissions from 11 countries on the continent, including Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

The long list of nine poets in the running for the prize was announced earlier in November before the shortlist of three was revealed later in the month.

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Winners emerged after a rigorous screening by a jury chaired by Margaret Busby supported by University of Texas’ Professor Toyin Falola, and the Lagos-based international literary scholar, Olu Obafemi.

The winning works for the award are Tanure Ojaide’s Songs of Myself and Harriet Anena’s A Nation in Labour.

Ojaide is a Nigerian poet and writer noted for his unique stylistic vision and for his intense criticism of imperialism, religion, and other issues.

He has won major national and international poetry awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region (1987), the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award (1988), twice the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry (1988 and 1997), and thrice the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize (1988, 1994 and 2004). Songs of Myself is said to be deeply rooted in the indigenous African poetic tradition.

Ms Anena has been making a name for herself in recent years being shortlisted for her prose in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize this year and the Short Story Day Africa 2017 long list.

First launched in 2015, A Nation in Labour is described as a collection of social conscience poetry that paints a picture of the giant politician, the restless citizen, the clueless youth, those struggling to heal from life’s scratches and the ones hunting for words to describe fiery flames of affection.

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