Etisalat unveils N3.6m prize for literature

Posted: June 18, 2013 in arts/culture

 

(L-R): Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Steven Evans; Chair of Judges, Etisalat Prize for Literature, Pumla Gqola and  Chief Commercial Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Wael Ammar,  at the Etisalat Prize for Literature Press Conference, held at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, last Wednesday, 5th June, 2013.

(L-R): Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Steven Evans; Chair of Judges, Etisalat Prize for Literature, Pumla Gqola and Chief Commercial Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Wael Ammar, at the Etisalat Prize for Literature Press Conference, held at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, last Wednesday, 5th June, 2013.

Nigeria’s most innovative telecommunications company Etisalat, Wednesday, announced the institution of a £15,000 (N3.6m)  annual  literary prize for literature across the continent in addition to also unveiling a judging panel and patrons for the prize, in line with its vision of promoting passions, nurturing talent and providing a platform for communicating ideas.

Tagged the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the maiden edition of the proposed, according to the firm, aims at recognising and celebrating writers and other members of the literary community across Africa, as in addition to celebrating first time writers of published fiction novels, the prize will also reward the flash fiction writer.

The Prize is expected to be awarded in 2 categories: For the best full-length debut novel of a minimum of 30,000 words published in English in the last 24 months; and for the best flash fiction work of less than 300 words (also in English).

According to the judges, the Etisalat Prize for Literature accepts only submissions from writers of African citizenship.

The Prize winner in the 1st category shall be awarded: £15,000 cash prize. In addition to a Samsung Galaxy Note or iPad; an Etisalat-sponsored book tour (book reading/signing) in 3 major cities; a Scholarship/ Fellowship at University of East Anglia (the pre-eminent school for creative writing); and also an Etisalat-engraved Montblanc Pen.

While the winner in the 2nd category is expected to receive: £1,000 (N238, 527) cash prize; as well as a Samsung Galaxy Note or iPad; and a Published e-book promoted online and via SMS.

Making the announcement at a media conference at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Wednesday, 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.

Entries for the Fiction Novel category which opened Wednesday, June 5, to publishers who have published a minimum of five authors in the last three years, will be vetted and scrutinized by a panel of four pre-selected 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 Kahora, Managing Editor of Kwani Trust, of the literary Journal Kwani and Sarah Ladipo Manyika, writer and academic.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever pan-African prize to applaud first time writers of published fiction novels. The prize aims at bringing together high profile writers, book critics and academics from across the continent and beyond to identify new writers of African descent.

While entries has commenced for Full length English fiction novels, that of the Flash Fiction Short Stories, will follow after its official launch towards the end of the year and will be driven entirely via social media.

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.

The prize judges will work together to select the long list as well as a shortlist of three novels and finally the winner who will be announced in February 2014.

Evans also stated that the newly launched 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.

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’.

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