By Prisca Sam-Duru
Writer, poet and journalist, Ikeogu Oke has been declared winner of this year’s NLNG- sponsored The Nigeria Prize for Literature for his book, ‘The Heresiad’.
Out of 184 entries received for this year’s prize which was pruned down to final three, Oke won the prestigious prize by beating two other contenders, Ogaga Ifowodo (A Good Mourning) and Tanure Ojaide (Songs of myself: Quartet).
Oke’s The Heresiad, published by Kraft Books Ltd, employs the epic form in questioning power and freedom. It probes metaphorically the inner workings of societies and those who shape them. Oke is a writer, poet and journalist. He studied at the Universities of Ibadan and Nigeria. His creative works include ‘Salutes Without Guns’, ‘The Tortoise and the Princess’, ‘The Lion and the Monkey’, ‘In the Wings of Waiting’ and ‘Where I was Born’.
Chiarman of the Advisory Board of NLNG Prize for Literature, Prof. Banjo, announced the winner of the competition at a World Press Conference held today in Lagos.
The Chairman of the Panel of Judges for this year’s Nigeria Prize for Literature is Prof Ernest Emenyonu, professor of Africana Studies at the University of Michigan-Flint, USA. Other judges are Dr. Razinat Mohammed, associate professor of Literature at the University of Maiduguri and Tade Ipadeola, poet, lawyer and winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, 2013.
Other members of the Advisory Board, besides Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, two-time Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria’s premier university, University of Ibadan, are Prof. Jerry Agada, former Minister of State for Education, former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors, and Professor Emeritus Ben Elugbe, former President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and president of the West-African Linguistic Society (2004-2013).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature prize has in its 13 years of existence produced an impressive succession of winners – Gabriel Okara for his volume of poetry, ‘The Dreamer, His Vision’ (co-winner 2005 – poetry); Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, ‘Chants of a Minstrel’ (co-winner 2005 poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2006 – drama) for his book ‘Hard Ground’;
Mabel Segun (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) for her collection of short plays ‘Reader’s Theatre’; Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) with her book, ‘My Cousin Sammy’; Kaine Agary (2008 – prose) for her novel ‘Yellow Yellow’; Esiaba Irobi (2010 – drama) who won the prize posthumously with his book ‘Cemetery Road’;
Adeleke Adeyemi (2011 – children’s literature) with his book ‘The Missing Clock’; Chika Unigwe (2012 – prose), with her novel, ‘On Black Sisters’ Street’, Tade Ipadeola (2013 – poetry) with his collection of poems, ‘The Sahara Testaments’; Professor Sam Ukala (2014 – drama) with his play, ‘Iredi War’ and ‘Seasons of Crimson Blossom’, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (2016 – prose).