Etisalat has announced its call for entries to the 2016 edition of the Pan-African Prize, Etisalat Prize for Literature. This is coming just a few months after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila won the 2015 edition of the Prize with his first novel, Tram 83.
Matthew Willsher, CEO, Etisalat Nigeria, who made this disclosure recently at a press briefing in Lagos, also announced the Judging Panel for the 2016 Etisalat Prize. The panel comprises Nigerian novelist and poet, Helon Habila, as the Chair of Judges, South African writer and activist Elinor Sisulu and Ivorian writer, Edwige Rene Dro as members. The Chair of judges was present at the briefing as well as two of the Prize Patrons: renowned literary icon, Prof. Kole Omotoso and awards-winning author, Dele Olojede.
Mr Willsher, while speaking about the uniqueness of the Etisalat Prize, said it is designed to serve as a leading platform for the discovery and encouraging of creative writing talents as well as the celebration of literary arts by African writers.
“We are delighted to champion the cause for celebrating the richness and strength of African literature. Etisalat Prize for Literature is about discovering and bringing to the world stage the many creative talent Africa boasts of. The Etisalat Prize is about creativity, excellence, empowerment and reward; it is about celebrating our African diversity in very innovative ways through various forms of art, literature being one of them”, he said.
Willsher added that only books by debutant writers published not later than 24 months before submission, will qualify for entry. “They must also be by registered publishing houses not less than six years as incorporated publishers with registered ISBN Number or the equivalent, and who must have published a minimum of six authors. All entries should be accompanied by seven copies of the book entered along with an acceptance of our publicity terms. A publisher may submit a maximum of three books,” he said.
Nigerian-born Helon Habila is a writer, poet, author and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. His novels include, Waiting for an Angel (2002), Measuring Time (2007), and Oil on Water (2010).He is the editor of the Granta Book of African Short Story (2011). Habila’s novels, poems, and short stories 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. He has been a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004, and he is a regular reviewer for the Guardian, UK.
Elinor Sisulu is a Zimbabwean-born South Africa writer and human rights activist Elinor Sisulu combines training in history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory from institutions in Zimbabwe, Senegal and the Netherlands. She is the author of the award-winning children’s book The Day Gogo Went to Vote. Her biography on her parents-in-law, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime secured her the prestigious 2003 Noma Award for publishing in Africa. Elinor’s involvement in book promotion and literary development efforts for many years has culminated in her work with the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation. She has been a judge for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize and the Penguin Africa Writer’s Competition.
Edwige-Renée Dro is an Ivorian writer and a translator. She is one of the 39 most promising voices under 40 from Africa, south of the Sahara as decided by the Africa39 project. She was the 2015 PEN International New Voices award judge. Edwige-Renée currently works as the director of Danbé Collection, a new imprint of l’Harmattan Editions with a focus on the promotion of Ivorian literature in Abidjan. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is a Pan African prize that celebrates debut African writers of published fiction. Previous winners include Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2013), South Africa’s Songeziwe Mahlangu (2014) and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila (2015).
The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 (US $21,750) in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia, U.K. under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden, the author of The Last King of England.
The Etisalat Prize also incorporates an award for Flash Fiction; an online-based competition for non-published African writers of short stories.