By Prisca Sam-Duru
The news of the unveiling of five new literary prizes in honour of one of the finest literary scholars and writers in Africa, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, was a most pleasant one to Nigerians who have grown very weary of violent news that assault them on daily basis.
This is coming few months after the announcement by the Journal of African Literature on May 21, 2022, of Professor Ezeigbo as winner of the Folon-Nichols Award for Excellence in Creative Writing by the African Literature Association. She won the award for her “career-long work, cherishing and contributing to both African literature and the freedom of Expression”.
Known as the ‘Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Literature’, the Prize which takes off in 2023, covers 5 categories for published works in English including: Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Poetry, Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Fiction, Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Children’s Literature, Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Drama and Akachi Ezeigbo Prize for Non-Fiction.
The literary Prize which was initiated by Dr Onyeka Nwelue, Dean, School of Cinematography, Queensland University, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Visiting Fellow, University of Oxford, has Dr. Ifeoma Ezinne Odinye, a literary scholar, as the Director of the Prize.
Announcing the cheery development, the celebrated writer joyfully wrote on her Facebook wall; “My dear friends join me to celebrate God’s grace and goodness in my life. Literature is my passion, my life. I celebrate creativity and the power of imagination.
“My thanks go to the accomplished and highly talented Onyeka Nwelue and the young people working with him in the UK, in India, in Haiti, in Nigeria – indeed everywhere he has strong roots and where these phenomenal achievements have taken him. Thanks also to Abibiman Publishing UK. A Prize has been named after me in African Literature! To God be all the glory”.
Professor Ezeigbo is a multiple award-winning author of over 50 books and an amiable scholar, with her published works spanning diverse literary genres including novels, poetry, short stories, books for children, essays and, journalism. Her numerous awards include the Nigeria LNG-sponsored The Nigeria Prize for Literature where she is also serving currently as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board.
Dr. Onyeka Nwelue, who is also the founder and publisher of the Abibiman Publishing, while unveiling the Prize, described Prof Ezeigbo as the “Mother of Modern African Literature”, noting that it’s very important to celebrate her now that she is here. “I grew up, reading her work. I became a university teacher because of the opportunity she gave to me at 21. This prize will be in 5 categories for published works, and the brilliant Dr. Odinye will decide on the direction it will take —to honour Professor Ezeigbo”, Dr Nwelue, author of 18 books of literature, and founder of the James Currey Festival and the Earl Lovelace Festival, stated.
Currently the Vice President of the Oxford-based James Currey Society and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, the prize administrator, Dr. Odinye, specialises in Creative Writing, Gender Studies, Comparative Literature and Postcolonial Literatures.
She also has Master’s degree in Literature in 2014 and Doctorate degree in 2019 from the same department. She studied at Renmin University, Beijing , China in 2008-2009. She has a Master’s degree in Chinese Philosophy from Xiamen University, China in 2012. Her areas of specialization are Creative Writing, Gender Studies, Comparative Literature and Postcolonial Literatures. She has published articles, poems and novels, with “Pain in the Neck” (2018), as her debut, and African-China (2019) a sequel to the debut; a collection of poems titled, “At Sunset” (2018), containing the award-winning poem, “Zion’s Zest” in the 2018 Annual (EWC) Eclectic Writers Community International Poetry Competition.
She is also a member of Creative Literary Giants, Association of Nigerian Authors, Writers and Authors Promotion, Prolific Fiction Writers Community, and Author’s Networking Group.
More information about the prize will be announced on September 5th, 2022, according to the organisers.