Three finalists have been named for the fifth edition of Africa’s most prestigious prize in literature, the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.
Announcing the list at a press conference held at The Motor Boat Club, Lagos on Thursday, Dr. Ogochukwu Promise, founder, Lumina Foundation said: “the last men standing are Othuke Ominibohs, Akin Bello and Toyin Abiodun”.
The ultimate winner of the $20,000 prize money will emerge from the three at the grand finale taking place at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island on July 5, 2014. The fifth edition of the Prize is being sponsored by national telecommunications carrier, Globacom.
Speaking at the event, Kamaldeen Shonibare, Globacom’s Head of Corporate Sales said that “our management decided to throw its weight behind this prize as a mark of honour for one of the world’s biggest literary giants, Professor Wole Soynika. Our deeply cherished Professor Soyinka is a huge inspiration to literature in Africa. He symbolizes excellence, which is what Globacom stands for”.
In her remarks, Mrs Francesca Emmanuel, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Lumina Foundation, explained that “in the past, consideration for selection of entries for the award was across all genres of literature, with winners of the first three editions being novelists. But this year’s edition of the event is focused on a specific genre, which is drama, to give playwrights an equal opportunity to win”.
One of the finalists, Akin Bello, was born in Lagos in 1950, and educated at Oyo, Ghana and the Obafemi Awolowo University where he obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) (Pol. Science) in the 2nd Class (Upper) Division in 1975. He entered his first play, ‘Egbon of Lagos’ for the prize.
The second finalist, Toyin Abiodun, is a prince of the Lubokun Ruling Dynasty of Ikale land. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree and a Master of Arts (Literature) degree of University of Lagos and University of Ibadan, respectively. He has authored three published plays, but entered the ‘The Trials of Afonja’ for the prize.
The third finalist, Othuke Ominibohs is a Nigeria-born writer and Computer Scientist. He was born in Delta State on the 25th of June 1989. His play, Odufa, was shortlisted for the prize.
The three finalists were selected from a long list of 10 African authors including, Soji Cole, Comfort Adesuwa Ero, Isaac Attah Ogezi, Moshood Oba, Mayowa Saja, and Wumi Raji. They were selected from a total of 163 entries submitted from 17 African countries in the genre of Drama, which is the focus of the 2014 edition.
The award is a biennial event staged to recognize the best literary work produced by an African. It was established by the Lumina Foundation in 2005 to promote literary excellence in Africa and has since become the African equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
The panel of five judges for the Prize is drawn from Uganda, South Africa, Mali, Nigeria and Algeria.