Nigeria’s most innovative telecommunications company Etisalat, in line with its vision of promoting passions, nurturing talent and providing a platform for communicating ideas has announced the first edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature aimed at recognising and celebrating writers and other members of the literary community across Africa.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction novels. The prize will bring together high profile writers, book critics and academics from across the continent and beyond to identify new writers of African descent. Submitted works must be the writer’s first fiction novel of over 30,000 words and which has been published in the last twenty-four months.
Entries for the Fiction Novel category opens today the 5th of June to publishers who have published a minimum of five authors in the last three years. All entries will be vetted and scrutinized by a panel of four preselected judges chaired by Pumla Gqola, associate professor in the Department of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and of South Africa’s most celebrated intellectuals. Other judges are Zaks Mda, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Ohio and winner of the Commonwealth Prize, Billy KahoraManaging Editor of Kwani Trust, of the literary Journal Kwani and Sarah Ladipo Manyika, writer and academic. These judges will work together to select the longist as well as a shortlist of three novels and finally the winner who will be announced in February 2014.
Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steven Evans said that the Prize was created out of the need to give recognition to indigenous works of literature while also rewarding new entrants and encouraging further participation. “We are pleased to have initiated this important project that celebrates literary excellence and creativity in Nigeria and across Africa. We believe literature has the potential to effect change and serve as a catalyst for promoting a cultural revolution. However, it is a field that has been relegated to the background, making African fiction and short story writers to look to international awards for recognition,” he said. “The Etisalat Prize for Literature is our way of sharing in the passions and aspirations of young and upcoming writers as well as breathing new life to the literary society,” Evans added.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature aims to serve as a viable platform for the discovery of new creative talent from the continent and invariably promote the growing publishing industry in Africa. Entries will be accepted for two categories, namely: Full length English fiction novels and Flash Fiction Short Stories, to be launched towards the end of the year and driven entirely via social media.