Lagos, Nigeria; February 25, 2014: The search for Africa’s most prolific debut fiction writer, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, climaxed last Sunday at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos, with NoViolet Bulawayo carting home the coveted prize of £15,000.
At a befitting celebration of first time writers of published fiction books, Bulawayo with her “We Need New Names” was announced winner of the Etisalat Prize out the shortlist which included Yewande Omotosho with “Bom Boy”, and Karen Jenning with “Finding Soutbek”.
According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, the Etisalat Prize for Literature award was designed to recognize and reward debut writers of fiction in the African region, with the objective of discovering new creative talent from Africa and promoting the burgeoning publishing industry on the continent.
“As a rite of passage, published and unpublished literary works of art have been passed down from generation to generation in Africa. Etisalat Nigeria is indeed pleased to celebrate all authors in the African literary spectrum from the greats such as Wole Soyinka, Miriama Ba to Ben Okri, Alain Mabanckou and Chimamanda Adichie. As such, Etisalat Nigeria is proud to use its maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature pan-African award to recognize and celebrate the amazing work done by these unique individuals,” he said.
The Zimbabwean-born winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature, Bulawayo, in addition to the cash prize of £15,000, was presented with an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen, a Samsung Galaxy Note and will attend the Etisalat Fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia as well as being mentored by Giles Foden – Author of the “Last King of Scotland”. She will also have book tours in three African cities and get the chance to start work on her second book.
An elated Bulawayo specially thanked the judges, patrons, and Etisalat Nigeria for the award and for the opportunity the Etisalat Prize for Literature afforded her.
“I am thankful to the organizers of this event, Etisalat Nigeria for this most excellent and necessary prize. We are all aware of the shortage of literary prizes and it is heart-warming to know that Etisalat Nigeria sees and values the significance of such literary works in Africa,” she said.
Runners-up, Yewande Omotosho and Karen Jenning were presented with Samsung Galaxy notes. They also won book tours to two African cities and Etisalat will purchase 1000 copies each of their books which will be distributed across the continent
To spice up the occasion, there was a special performance from celebrated African music legend, Youssou N’Dour, who performed a number of classics including “Redemption Song”, “7 Seconds” and “New Africa”.
The flash fiction competition winner was also announced as Uche Okonkwo for her entry “Neverland”, taking home the cash prize of £1000 and a Samsung galaxy note. Runners up were Bonaventure Chukwu for “Fear” and Nzere Jeremiah for “Silent Screams”, each winning £500 and Samsung Galaxy notes.
About the Etisalat Prize for Literature
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction. The Etisalat Prize was founded in June 2013 and has a board of patrons which include some of Africa’s finest intellectuals. Submitted works must be the writer’s first fiction book of over 30,000 words and published within the last twenty-four months. The winner of the prize receives £15,000 and will attend the Etisalat Fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia.
In just 5 years of operations, Etisalat Nigeria has become a major industry player with a growing subscriber base of over 17 million in a highly competitive market. Its portfolio of voice and data-centric products include – easy starter, easycliq, easybusiness, easyblaze and easyflex; all tailor-made to meet the needs of its customers.
For its outstanding performance since the launch of commercial operations, Etisalat has won the Nigerian telecoms industry’s first ever ‘Excellent Service and effective Collaboration with the Consumer Affairs Bureau to ensure access to Customer Care Help line’.
The company has also won several other awards which include ‘Brand of the Year’, ‘Best Telecom Customer Service’, ‘Telecom Innovations Company of the Year’, and ‘Most Innovative Corporate Social Responsibility Company’. Etisalat Nigeria is one of the 15 operations of the Etisalat Group that spans across Africa, Middle East and Asia serving over 140 million subscribers; and it is committed to delivering innovative and quality services to its growing subscribers.