Pan-African literary reward for first books Etisalat Prize for
Literature on 18th June announced the call for entries to its 2016
edition. It will be the third in a prize that has thrown up two winners
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first ever prize celebrating
debut African writers of published fiction. In a briefing, Chief
Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Matthew Willsher, said, “The
Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of
new creative writing talents out of the African continent.
Everyone can see just how committed we are in driving culture and the
values of excellence and empowerment that we stand for. The prize
empowers, giving first writers the chance to excel and it also helps
publishers support their business.
We want to empower people”. Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo won the
maiden edition of the prize with her highly celebrated debut novel, We
Need New Names while Songeziwe Mahlangu emerged winner of the second
year of the prize with his novel, Penumbra.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is designed to foster writing in
Africa, bring exciting new African writers to the attention of a wider
audience, and promote reading among the populace.
The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a
fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia, U.K. under the
mentorship of the award-winning author, Professor Giles Foden.
The winner will also receive a sponsored three-city book tour while
the two other shortlisted writers will receive a sponsored two-city book
tour to promote their books. The Etisalat Prize for Literature also
supports publishers by purchasing 1000 copies of the shortlisted books
for distribution within the continent.
The judges this year will be Kenyan Zikiswa Wanner, Nigeria’s Molara
Wood, with Ghana’s Toronto University professor of English, Ato Quayson,
as chair of judges. This prize accepts submitted works which must be a
writer’s first work of fiction over 30,000 words, and published within
the last 24 months.
The Etisalat Prize will also launch the online-based flash fiction
prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction. Wanner
commended Etisalat’s revolutionary approach in its support for cultural
productions on the continent.
She said until Etisalat came there was no pan-African prize for
literature, and was hopeful that one of the continent’s universities
“will be revolutionary enough to do a pan-African Fellowship for
Wood said, “What Etisalat is doing is a huge deal to carry
pan-African multiplicity of voices. I hope it becomes the standard for
others to follow and help carry Africa’s voices”.
Wood also hoped that the prize would help drive literary production
locally. One of the prize’s patrons, Prof. Kole Omotoso stressed the
need to build roads and not just bridges across Africa, as symbolized by
He recounted how winner of the last edition Mahlangu was being
celebrated in South Africa for getting a continental endorsement of his
Also Director, Brand and Experience, Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Enitan
Denloye, said the prize was about identifying talent and investing in
them and helping young people achieve their potentials.
He invited publishers to come up with ideas how they could be helped
to enhance their businesses. Rules and guidelines for entry are
available at prize.etisalat.com.ng