ELEVEN playwrights have emerged as contenders for The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2023 worth USD$100,000. The awaited list came out today and set the literary scene agog with speculations as the likely three to make the shortlist in September before the October prize award ceremony when a winner will emerge. A statement from the Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, signed by the General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Andy Odeh, said the longlist of 11 drawn from 143 plays in the running for the 2023 edition of the prize. The literature prize is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG).
The 11 plays on the longlist are Dance of The Sacred Feet by Ade Adeniji, Gidan Juju by Victor S. Dugga, Grit by Obari Gomba, Home Coming by Cheta Igbokwe, The Boat People by Christopher Anyokwu, The Brigadiers of a Mad Tribe by Abuchi Modilim, and The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu. Others are The Spellbinder by Bode Sowande, When Big Masquerades Dance Naked by Olubunmi Familoni, Where Is Patient Zero by Olatunbosun Taofeek and Yamtarawala – The Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro.
The list was presented to the Advisory Board by the jury chairman for this year’s prize, Ameh Dennis Akoh, a professor of Drama and Critical Theory at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State. Other panel members include Professor Osita Catherine Ezenwanebe and Dr Rasheedah Liman.
Romeo Oriogun and his 2022 award-winning work, Nomad
In their report, the jury stated that the longlist consisted of plays that unravel profound themes, each evidence of the artistry and creativity of the individual playwrights. The judges also added that the playwrights’ ability to breathe life into their characters and narratives is a testament to their profound insight into the human experience.
Accepting the recommended longlist, the board’s chairperson, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, commended the judges for the thorough exercise of picking the best from the entries for 2023. She said the longlist of 11 was a manifestation of the relentless scrutiny and unwavering dedication invested in the pursuit of true dramatic excellence by the judges. She also commended the playwrights on the longlist, adding that they have emerged as beacons of distinction in the annals of the literary world in Nigeria. Other members of the Advisory Board are Professors Olu Obafemi and Ahmed Yerima.
The jury will also continue adjudication on the 13 entries for The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism, which runs concurrently with The Nigeria Prize for Literature. The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of USD$10,000. The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature. Last year the genre in contention was poetry, and Romeo Oriogun won with hs collection, Nomad.