Category Archives: News

Discover more about the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature Shortlist

etisalatThese authors were shortlisted for the 2016 edition of its pan-African flagship literary prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature – Jowhor Ile, Jacqui L’Ange and Julie Iromuanya. The three-member judging panel comprising Nigerian novelist/poet, Helon Habila (Chair of Judges); South African writer/activist, Elinor Sisulu; and Ivorian writer and Africa39 laureate, Edwige Renée Dro. The Chair of Judges, Helon Habila said, “In addition to originality of voice and literary excellence, our purpose was to also select a work that portrays an “African sensibility”.

The shortlisted books are –
And After Many Days (Kachifo Limited, Nigeria) – Jowhor Ile (Nigeria)
And After Many Days introduces Ile’s spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new. In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.

The Seed Thief (Umuzi Publishers, South Africa) – Jacqui L’Ange (South Africa)
The Seed Thief is a modern love story with an ancient history, a tale that moves from flora of Table Mountain to the heart of Afro-Brazilian spiritualism. Sometimes the thing you find is not the one you were looking for. When botanist Maddy Bellani is asked to travel to Brazil to collect rare seeds from a plant that could cure cancer, she reluctantly agrees. Securing the seeds would be a coup for the seed bank in Cape Town where she works, but Brazil is the country of her birth and home to her estranged father. Her mission is challenging, despite the help of alluring local plantexpert Zé. The plant specimen is elusive, its seeds guarded by a sect wary of outsiders. Maddy must also find her way in a world influenced by unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies and the selfish motives ofothers.

Mr & Mrs Doctor (Coffee House Press, USA) – Julie Iromuanya (Nigeria)
Ifi and Job, a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage, begin their lives together in Nebraska with a single, outrageous lie: that Job is a doctor, not a college dropout. Unwittingly, Ifi becomes his co-conspirator—that is until his first wife, Cheryl, whom he married for a green card years ago, reenters the picture and upsets Job’s tenuous balancing act.

The winner of the Prize receives £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen, an Etisalat sponsored book tour to three African countries as well an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. Also all the shortlisted writers will also enjoy a sponsored multi-city book tour while Etisalat will also purchase 1,000 copies of their books for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across Africa with the objective of promoting the reading culture and the publishing industry at large.

#myfeminism || Brittle Paper Features Essay Series On Feminism

my-feminism-1-toplite
Brittle Paper will feature an essay series on feminism titled My Feminism. The series was inspired, in part, by Chimamanda Adichie for her public statements which have aroused a wave of interest in the values, practice and politics of feminism. With these statements, Chimamanda has fired up an open ground for some of the most interesting conversations on feminism.
To keep this conversation going, Keside Anosike, Wana Udobang, Kola Tubosun, Pearl Osibu, and Ainehi Edoro are set to write short essays in which they explore feminism as a powerful idea that inspires us all differently. This essay series will run for 3 weeks and it kicks off 21st November, click here for more details to join the conversation.

#AkeFest2016 || Discover What is Beneath this Skin

ake-art-book-fest-2016-toplite
The fouth edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival is bringing a creative whirlwind to the rocky hills of Abeokuta with five days of cultural immersion. This year’s theme is Beneath This Skin and conversations will focus on identity, race and individuality. Also Erotica, prison stories and horror fiction coming out of Africa, it will take place at the Arts and Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta on 15-19 November, 2016.

Ake Festival 2016 will feature 18 authors in 9 book chats, 2 art exhibitions, 1 stage play, 1 in-depth interview, school visits, 12 stimulating panel discussions, 5 film screenings, 4 creative workshops, 1 music concert, a tour of historic sites and a night of poetry performance. Book-lovers and visitors will also be thrilled by the range of affordable books.
Highlights of Ake Festival 2016 –
Book Chats
– Distinguished Professor, renowned writer, and literary icon, Ngugi wa Thiong’o will be talking to journalist Okey Ndibe about his fascinating life, his work and his latest book Birth of a Dream Weaver.
interview-akefest2016-toplite

Art Exhibitions – Laolu Sebanjo’s exhibition is dazzling. bring your face for some body art. Fatima Abubakar will also be showing us Bits of Borno which captures the lives of the people of Borno State in a stunning series of photographs.

Palmwine and Poetry Evening – South Africa’s Lebo Mashile, Michael Kelleher from the US and Nigeria’s Titilope Sonuga and Dike Chukwumerija.

Film Screening – Haroun’s documentary on Hissene Habre gives us an insight into the horror inflicted on the Chadian people during the rule of the Chadian Pinochet.
hissein-akefest-2016

Drama – Iyalode of Eti is coming to Nigeria. A star-studded cast in an unforgettable performance. Iyalode of Eti is an enchanting, lyrical theatrical experience that is fresh, dynamic, and surprising. Rich language, bold characterisations and thrilling storytelling carry the audience into an atmospheric world that is presented with startling intimacy and electric physicality. Adapted for stage by Debo Oluwatuminu and directed by Moji Kareem, the play was inspired by John Webster’s masterpiece The Duchess of Malfi.
iyalodesquare-akefest2016

Concert – Book your tickets now to see Brymo, Falana and Adunni Nefertiti in concert. 90 minutes of acoustic bliss.

For more details about #AkeFest2016, click here

#LABAF2016 || The Terror of Knowledge against Forces of Incapacity

labaf-2016 Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) is having its 18th edition themed, “The Terror of Knowledge” to address rising extremism against acquisition of knowledge and brain empowerment. It as an art festival with a high book content organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), it is CORA’s homage to the written word.

The festival is a four-day event which includes readings and conversations around books, art and craft displays, kiddies’ art workshops and reading sessions, book exhibitions, live music and theatre performance, capacity building workshops and exhibitions, and critical seminars for different sectors of the creative industries. It will run from November 10 to 13 at Freedom Park (old colonial prison site) on Broad Street, Lagos Island.

Lineup of events for LABAF 2016 include –
31 Books of the Festival
1 book trek
1 pre-festival cocktail to open the festival
1 Publishers’ Forum
1 Visual Art Exhibition
1 Festival Colloquium
1 Festival Conversation
10 book events
11 Children’s’ workshops
3 workshops for teachers
2 festival plays
3 Music concerts / art parties (one hip-hop, one jazz, one high-life)
A total of 35 events

For more information on #LABAF2016, click here

“Season of Crimson Blossoms” – 2016 Winner of $100,000 Nigerian Prize for Literature

season-of-crimson-blossomsAbubakar Adam Ibrahim is the winner of the 2016 Nigerian Prize for Literature worth §100,000, with his novel, Season of Crimson Blossom. The Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Prize, Prof Ayo Banjo who announced Abubakar Ibrahim as winner of this year’s NLNG Nigerian Prize for literature described his debut novel, A Season of Crimson Blossoms as “as skillful and sympathetic narrative.”

season-of-crimson-blossomsThe three finalists for this year’s edition of the prize were Elnathan John (Born On A Tuesday); Chika Unigwe, (Night Dancer), and, Mr. Ibrahim (Season of a Crimson Blossoms) after an intial shortlist drawn from 173 books, in the race for the 2016 literature prize for prose fiction worth $100,000.

Season of Crimson Blossom is set in conservative northern Nigeria, between a 55-year-old widow, Binta and 25-year-old ‘area-boy’ Reza, their lives become intertwined when Reza tries to rob Binta.

About the Author
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a journalist and writer. He was winner of the BBC African Performance Prize, the Amatu Braide Prize for Prose; and earlier awarded the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013) and Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015).

Etisalat Flash Fiction 2016|Win $1000 with 300 Words

etisalat-flashfiction-topmuseThe Etisalat Flash Fiction Award was created in order to cater to the large amount of interest received from unpublished writers across the Continent. To garner some publicity for the art of flash fiction writing and the writers themselves, this category of the Prize will be open to the general public to review and contribute to the ultimately selection of a winner. The Flash fiction award seeks to provide added value to mobile device users across Africa with information on-the-go and in bite sized chunks.

Guidelines
The Prize is open to all writers of unpublished short stories (of African citizenship but can be resident anywhere in the world)
All entries will be submitted online via the website and short stories submitted should not exceed 300 words

Prizes
The winning author will receive $1000 and a high end device
The 2 Runner-ups will receive $500 (each) and a high end device.

Top 50 Stories
Published e-book compilation by okadabooks.com promoted online and via SMS
Published print book (if available) distributed at award ceremony


Entries Open – September 1
Entries Closes – October 14
Voting Opens to the general public – November 1
Voting Closes – November 30
Top 50 Announced – December 2
Finalists Announced – January 11, 2017
Award Ceremony/Winner Announcement – March 2017

CainPrize 2016 Winner|Lidudumalingani – “Memories We Lost”

Lidudumalingani is the winner of the 2016 Cain Prize Award for African Writing for his short story – ‘Memories We Lost’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). He was announced as the winner of £10,000 prize on Monday, 4 July at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

‘Memories We Lost’ tells the emotionally charged story of a girl who acts as protector of her sister, whose serious mental-health problems cause consternation in a South African village. Her situation deteriorates as her care is entrusted to Nkunzi, a local man who employs traditional techniques to rid people of their demons.

Delia Jarrett-Macauley praised the story, saying, “The winning story explores a difficult subject – how traditional beliefs in a rural community are used to tackle schizophrenia. this is a troubling piece, depicting the great love between two young siblings in a beautifully drawn Eastern Cape. Multi-layered, and gracefully narrated, this short story leaves the reader full of sympathy and wonder at the plight of its protagonists”.

Lidudumalingani is a writer, filmmaker and photographer. He was born in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, in a village called Zikhovane. Lidudumalingani has published short stories, non-fiction and criticism in various publications. His films have been screened at a number of film festivals.

The Cain Prize for African Writing began in 2000 and it has been termed
as Africa’s leading literary award. Alongside Lidudumalingani, this year’s edition was keenly contested by these four shortlisted entries:
Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)- ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’.
Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe)- ‘At Your Requiem’.
Tope Folarin (Nigeria)- ‘Genesis’.
Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya)- ‘The Lifebloom Gift’.

The panel of judges for the seventeenth edition of the Cain Prize award included DeliaorJarrett-Macauley, Muthoni Garland, Adjoa Andoh, Dr Robert J Patterson and Mary Watson.
The winner of the Caine Prize will be given the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to speak at the Library of Congress. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500. The winner is invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Storymoja in Nairobi and Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

Get Ready To Watch An Adaptation of Chimamanda’s “The Thing Around Your Neck”

Chimamanda Adichie has sold the film adaptation rights of “One Monday Last Week”, a short story from her 2009 collection “The Thing Around Your Neck” to Ghanaian director Adoma Akosua Owusu and her Ghanaian based production company, Obibini Pictures.

the-thing-around-your-neck/topmuse

Also last year, the author of the award-winning novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’, gave Eclipsed star Lupita Nyongo the feature film rights to her third novel, Americanah. A social commentary and exploration of black identity of a Nigerian woman freshly emigrated to America.

Plot of “On Monday of Last Week”:
“On Monday of Last Week” follows a Nigerian woman on her journey to self-realization. Kamara takes on a nannying job caring for Josh, the five-year old son of Tracy and Neil, an interracial couple living in an upscale urban home. Under Neil’s direction, Kamara settles into a routine of prepping Josh for an academic competition and feeding him the latest kids’ health craze. The noticeable absence of Josh’s mother, Tracy, and her occasional outbursts heard from her artist’s studio in the basement intrigue Kamara. Kamara’s growing curiosity is piqued when Tracy finally emerges from her studio one afternoon. The brief encounter causes Kamara to launch into an unexpected attraction, wanting nothing more than an excuse to see Tracy again.

Akosua-Adoma-Owusu-600x600

Akosua is slated to direct and produce “On a Monday of Last Week” which tells the story of a Nigerian’s woman’s journey of self-discovery and examines the complex politics of beauty standards. Kwaku Anase – a film by Owusu won the the African Movie Academy Awards, 2013 in Nigeria for Best Short Film.
“I was compelled to create a new work by adapting literature from contemporary African writers,” Owusu says, according to the Obibini Pictures’ press release. “The themes of race, liberalism, and sexuality in Adichie’s short story On Monday of Last Week resonated with my films on the ‘triple consciousness’ of the African immigrant as I transition between avant-garde cinema, fine art, and African tradition to complicate the nature of identity.”

“On Monday of Last Week” is the first of Adichie’s short stories which will be optioned for film and to fund the project, the Guggenheim Foundation gas already offered its support. Check out Owusu’s Pitch video and $30,000 Kickstart campaign.
Nigerian actress Chinasa Ogbuagu, who recently starred in the Off-Broadway play Sojourners, will appear as the short story’s protagonist Kamara. And Ghanaian rapper M.anifest has signed on as the music supervisor for the film adaptation.

Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2016 |Cow and Company Breaks The Glass Ceiling

Parashar Kulkarni, an assistant professor in social science at Yale NUS College, Singapore breaks the glass ceiling by becoming the first Indian author to win the Commonwealth short story prize beating almost 4,000 entries to take the £5,000 award.
His winning story, Cow and Company, is set in 1905 in Mumbai or Bombay and follows four men looking for a cow to feature in advertisements for chewing gum.

“‘And the caption?’” asks their managing director. “‘Go Mata Ko Bhata – the chewing gum the cow mother loves.’ ‘It still sounds a bit out of place to me.’ ‘You can trust me on this, sir. I have spent quite a bit of time on the subject. What better way to get the natives to love our chewing gum than to link it to the cow? … The cow chews all day long. All Hindus love cows. If we use her on our posters they will love our chewing gum.’”
The short story is the first he has ever written, although he has also completed a novella and is working on a second.

Kulkarni has previously won the British Academy Brian Barry prize in political science for his research on religion, property rights and violence against women in colonial India. “I began using fiction therapeutically, but it has taken on a life of its own,” he said.

Nearly 4,000 entries from 47 different countries were received for this year’s award, for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English by a writer from a Commonwealth country. Twenty-six stories were shortlisted. Gillian Slovo, chair of the judging panel, said that in his short story, “Parashar has conjured up a large cast and their way of life, and at the same time he has succeeded in exploring serious issues in a way that can make us laugh. And all of this in a few thousand words.”
Kulkarni’s award was presented to him at the Calabash international literary festival in Jamaica on Sunday by Man Booker prizewinner and former judge of the prize, Marlon James.

Black and Dirty – A Racist Attack on Binyavagan

Binyavagan Wainaina the author of One Day I Will Write About This Place who presently lives in Germany as a DAAD Fellow was victim to an assault by a taxi driver some few days ago.

Based on his account of the experience on Facebook, the assault occured when he boarded a taxi to the clinic for a prescription refill while his neighbours looked on willfully refusing to intervene. Binyavagan was invariably vulnerable due to his health – because he was still recovering from a stroke he suffered last year which was compounded by a speech defect and the relative strength of the taxi driver.

His Facebook post, “I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this type of thing is supposed to happen to someone like me” has sparked off responses of varying emotions of fear, anger and sadness from different angles.

Binyavagan/Topmuse

DAAD is an academic exchange organisation based in Berlin and it also released a statement condemning the incident.

“The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program has noted with deep consternation, that its current guest, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, has been beaten by a taxi driver in Berlin. We strongly condemn this assault and feel ashamed that such a violent act could occur in our country. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program stands for a culture of welcoming, for tolerance, international artistic dialogue and the absence of difference. We are all strangers encountering different cultures and bringing these together. This is the only way that a true dialogue can take place. The DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program is in close contact with Binyavanga Wainaina and stands in this situation firmly by his side.”

Although the apology from DAAD is a step in the right direction but more action ought to be taken beyond words. DAAD should explore all the possibilities to redress the violent incident and ensure that justice is served. The German taxi driver should be punished as this will serve as a deterrent to others with similar racist inclinations.