- Nigeria dominates Africa’s poetic scene
By Ozoro Opute
IT is no longer news that Nigerian poets have dominated this year’s Pan-African Writers Association’s (PAWA) Poetry Prize contest in the English category. Prof. Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang (Ghana), John Rusimbi (Rwanda), Dr. Idris Okpanachi (Nigeria), Lillian Aujo (Uganda), and Maureen Isaacson (South Africa) served as judges. The five Nigerian beat poets from other African countries to emerge best, an indication that Nigeria has some of the finest poets practising on the continent today. The virtual prize award that is scheduled for Thursday, March 3, 2022 will certainly have an interesting perspective on how the much-coveted The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2022 will play out in October when the prize would be awarded or not.
The winner of PAWA Poetry Prize goes home with $2,000 in each of the four categories of English, French, Swahili and Arabic. Meanwhile, a call for entry for the $100,000 worth The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2022 and the N1 million worth The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism 2022 contests will close on April 8, 2022. Prof. Sule Emmanuel Egya, Toyin Adewale-Gabriel and Dike Chukwumerije make up the jury panel this year. These five poets and others have a chance to take the poetic glory in October.
The Nigeria’s five poets and their works shortlisted for Pan-African Writers Association Poetry Prize 2022 include Echezonachukwu Nduka (‘Chrysanthemum For Wide Eyed Ghosts’), Tanure Ojaide (‘A Poetic Diary Of The Coronavirus Epidemic’) Servio Gbadamosi (‘Where The Light Enters You’), Olumide Olaniyan (‘Akimbo In Limbo’), and Obari Gomba (‘The Lilt Of The Rebel’). It will be no surprise when the same poets also make the longlist and later shortlist of The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2022 later in July and Seeptember respectively.
Other poets and their collections that may make the lists include Ogaga Ifowodo with his ‘Augusta’s Poodle’, Aj. Dagga Tolar with ‘DisSick Republic’, James Eze with his ‘dispossessed’ (ANA poetry prize winner in 2020), Stephen Kekeghe with his ‘Rumbling Sky’ (ANA poetry prize joint winner in 2021), Ifesinachi Nwadike with ‘How Morning Remembers the Night’, Nwachukwu Egbunike with ‘Nka!’, and Femi Morgan with his collection, ‘The Year of Fire’.
The Arabic category that had Ashraf Aboul-Yazid (Egypt) and Fatima Bouhraka (Morocco) as judges, have Abdul Monem Ramadan (‘Lover’), Miftah Al–Amari (‘People Of The Wind’), Nosaiba Atta Allah (‘Hosted by Godo’), and Mohamed Naquib Mohamed Ali (‘The Cell Of The Wings’) contending for the top prize.
In the French category, Dr. Alain Serge Agnessan (Ivory Coast), Eric Bekale (Gabon), and Ketline Adodo (Togo) served as judges and has Ernest Koffiga Kavege (‘Demain, La Plenitude’), Danielle Gonai (‘Mosaique’), Sékou Chérif Haidara (‘Cahier de vertiges’), Fatoumata Keita (‘Ce n’est jamais fini’), Abdoulaye Seck (‘Délices de l’âme et coeur’), and Kossi Sena Adufu (‘Des profondeurs de la vie’) as the poets vying for the top prize.
Also in Kiswahili category, Dr. Hamisi Babusa (Kenya) and Esther Karin Mngodo (Tanzania) were the judges and the category has Ali Mohammed (‘Kilio Cha Sisimizi’), Bashiru Abdallah (‘Wino Was Dhahabu’), Djibril Adamu (‘Kipeto Cha Risala’), and Rashid Othman Ali (‘Mapinduzi Ya Kalamu’) as contestants.
PAWA Secretary-General and Nigerian novelist and travelogue writer, Dr. Wale Okediran, expressed the association’s gratitude and ”indebtedness to the judges for their hard work and dedication” and also congratulated the shortlisted poets and wished them the best, as the continent looks forward to the winning poets in all the categries. PAWA literary prize rotates among the genres of prose fiction, poetry, children’s literature and drama.
To give the keynote address at the award ceremony that will be characterised by speeches and poetry performances on Marchc 3, 2022 is the Head of Culture Division of African Union Commission (AUC), Angela Martins. She will speak from the Ethiopia capital and African Union (AU) headquarters, Addis Ababa.