By Amechi Obiakpu
A list of long entries for the 2016 edition of the Pan-African Etisalat Prize for Literature is expected to be announced in November, after submission of entries closed over the weekend.
Organisers said the entries will be announced at the forthcoming Ake Festival.
Etisalat Prize for Literature, a leading platform for the discovery of creative writing talents as well as the celebration of literary arts by African writers, has in recent years played a major role at the annual Ake Arts and Book Festival, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The Judging Panel for the 2016 edition of the Prize is chaired by Nigerian novelist and poet, Helon Habila. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. He is a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, and also a regular reviewer for the Guardian, UK.
His works have won many honours and awards, including the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Caine Prize, the Virginia Library Foundation Prize for fiction and most recently the Windham-Campbell Prize.
South African writer, human rights activist and political analyst, Elinor Sisulu, is a member of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) board, the National Arts Festival board, the Independent Media Trust of Zimbabwe, and the Anthony Sampson board. She is also a trustee of the Heal Zimbabwe Trust. She has been a judge of numerous literary prizes, including the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Golden Baobab award, and the Sunday Times Alan Paton prize with several publications to her credit.
The last member of panel, Ivorian writer, Edwige Rene Dro, who is passionate about getting the Francophone voice into the mainstream, translates for PEN International as well as Global Voices Online. She won the 2015 PEN International New Voices award and was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2014.
The Director, Brands and Experience, Etisalat Nigeria, Elvis Ogiemwanye, in a statement noted that the entries received this year demonstrate the richness and strength of African literature.
“We are delighted to champion the cause that celebrates African fiction and literary culture and also discovers creative talent that Africa can boasts of. Etisalat Prize for Literature is about creativity, excellence, empowerment and reward; it is a very innovative way and one of the various forms of expressions through which we share the African narrative,” he said.
Ogiemwanye emphasized that the value of the Etisalat Prize surpasses the 15,000 Pounds cash prize as it features a variety of programs that develop the writers, promote literary culture and stimulate the publishing industry in Africa.
The winner also receives an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen and a high-end mobile device, attends a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden, the author of The Last King of Scotland.
Etisalat will also purchase 1,000 copies of each of the shortlisted books for donation to various schools, book clubs and libraries across Africa. The programme will also include a book tour in three Africa cities.
The Etisalat Prize also incorporates an award for Flash Fiction; an online-based competition for non-published African writers of short stories.