By Cyril Ogar
Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced the finalists for the 2023 edition of the Prize. The shortlisted plays in alphabetical order of their titles are: Grit by Obari Gomba, The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu and Yamtarawala – The Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and carries a cash award of $100,000. A total of 143 plays were entered for the competition, which focuses on drama.
The Chairperson of the Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, made the announcement in a live broadcast on the Prize’s social media channels.
According to the Board, the plays stand tall in terms of dramatology, language, performance, story, and structure. The Board also said the plays represent the pinnacle of literary craftsmanship and the artistic convergence that The Nigeria Prize for Literature tirelessly seeks.
This was made known in a press statements signed by Anne-Marie Palmer-Ikuku, Head, Media Relations & Corporate Communication and made available to Aljazirah Nigeria.
The Board stated: “For Grit by Obari Gomba, the judges have applauded it as a great play that transcends its covers. Its pages unfold a captivating narrative that has clearly left an indelible mark and its production quality is nothing short of excellent.
The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu has deeply resonated with the judges, who commend its rich exploration of our socio-political fabric. The play’s ability to confront everyday struggles and decision-making conflicts while aiming for a harmonious resolution underscores its significant impact.
“Yamtarawala – The Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro captured the judges’ admiration for its dramatic twists, rendering it not only suited for the stage but also the screen. The narrative unfolds in ways that evoke a profound sense of engagement and excitement.”
“Our dedicated judges and the Advisory Board over the years have consistently worked together to seamlessly blend the contemporary heartbeat with the essence of Nigerian literature. This Shortlist serves as a testament to this harmonious fusion and the enduring legacy of our nation’s literary landscape,” the Board added. The winner will be announced by the Advisory Board on October 13, 2023.
Professor Victor K. Yankah from the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, serves as the International Consultant for this year’s edition of the Prize.
This same time four years ago in the Drama genre, Soji Cole (Embers), Denja Abdullahi (Death and The King’s Grey Hair) and Akanji Nasiru (The Rally) were announced in the 2018 Shortlist of Three. Soji Cole went on to win the Prize. Other playwrights who had been listed in the shortlist in previous years are Friday John Abba (Alekwu Night Dance), Jude Idada (Oduduwa, King of the Edos) and Sam Ukala (Iredi War – Winner) in 2014; Irobi Esiaba (Cemetery Road- Winner), Ahmed Yerima (Little Drops), and Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba (The Killing Swamp) in 2010; and Emeka Egwuda (Esoteric Dialogue), Femi Osofisan (Ajayi Crowther) and Ahmed Yerima (Hard Ground- Winner) in 2006.
Other members of the Advisory Board include Professor Olu Obafemi and Professor Ahmed Yerima.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.