Monday, February 6, 2012

When We Found The Missing Clock That Won $100, 000

Adeleke Adeyemi, aka Mai Nasara, the winner of the coveted $100, 000 Nigeria Prize for Literature.

When We Found The Missing Clock That Won $100, 000

Before 10 am on Monday February 6, 2012, both the young and old, lowly and mighty and from all spheres of life thronged the main hall of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Victoria Island led by the Lion of African literature Professor Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel laureate in literature and other noble men and women of the Nigerian intelligentsia. The bright-eyed pupils from the invited schools were awed by the distinguished personalities who came to celebrate the young man who found The Missing Clock of these interesting times, Adeleke Olufemi Adeyemi, aka Mai Nasara, the proud winner of the 2011 Nigeria Prize for Literature with a cash prize of $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars), solely sponsored by the Nigeria LNG limited. The hall was packed and there were not enough seats for the large audience at the award ceremony.

"This is the biggest cash prize for literature in Nigeria," an excited guest said.
"Not only in Nigeria, but in the whole of Africa!" Enthused another guest with glints in his starry eyes.

I know that the prestige and privilege of being honoured in the presence of our great literary icons and living legends meant more to Adeleke than the cash prize of $100, 000. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Here you are making your speech on the podium with Prof. Wole Soyinka and Dr. Gabriel Okara standing behind you and surrounded by the head of the Advisory Board for the Nigeria Prize for Literature, Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo, chairman of the panel of judges Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and her team, including Prof. Lekan Oyegoke of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Prof. Yakubu Nasidi of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. David Ker, Vice Chancellor, The Catholic University of Nigeria, Obehi, Abia State and Prof. Ini-Obong Uko, Department of English, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State! Wow! God really knows how to reward those who truly believe and trust Him.

The judges described The Missing Clock as “a genial heartwarming account of how a young boy's simple acts inspire his family to fortune”.

The lionized literary scholars and other special guests were recognized by the Master of Ceremony, Jahman Anikulapo, who is the Editor of The Guardian on Sunday and one of the leaders of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), a group of artistes, art enthusiasts, art promoters and art writers committed to the development of the Arts of Nigeria and their enabling environment. CORA has been a vehicle for the Nigerian renaissance for over a decade and winner of the Prince Claus Award in 2006, popularly known for its quarterly Art Stampede, the annual Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), the quarterly Lagos The City Arts Guide, and the annual Lagos Open Air Cinema Carnival and other relevant cultural activities.
I sat among the Nigerian literati, including Prof. Bode Sowande, Prof. Umaru Shehu, Dr. Jerry Agada, National President, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Mr. Toyin Akinosho, Secretary-General of CORA, Toni Kan, the amiable award winning poet, essayist and prose writer who is also a journalist and banker, Dagar Tolar, Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Association of Nigerian Author (ANA), Mrs. Koko Kalango of Rainbow Book Club, founder and organizer of the annual Garden City Literary Festival (GCLF) in Port Harcourt, Ropo Ewenla, the Secretary General, Pen Nigeria Centre and others. I also met with Benny Uche of the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy and Ms. Siene Allwell-Brown, General Manager, External Relations of the Nigeria LNG Limited who is one of the brains behind the Nigeria Prize for Literature who did not fail to commend her bosses, the new Managing Director, Mr. Babs Jolayemi Omotowa and his predecessor Mr. Chima Ibeneche.

The runners up, Ayodele Olofintuade, author of Eno’s Story and Chinyere Obi-Obasi, author of The Great Fall were also highly commended for their outstanding sparks of beautiful prose.

Prof. Soyinka answered the questions of some anxious and curious pupils who wanted to know the secret of his celebrated genius.

The beautiful wife and daughter of Adeleke and other members of his family, including his happy father and mother-in-law were there to celebrate with him in the midst of his bosom friends, Tolu Oladipo, David Toluhi and other well wishers.

Mr. Hope Obioma Opara, President of Eko International Film Festival and Publisher of Supple magazine (once edited by Adeleke), Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, Founder of Eko International Film Festival and the new Cinema Naija Open Air Film Festival with the Festival Manager, Roseline Philip and several journalists were there with their cameras and lights to record the event for the news media and posterity.

~ By Orikinla Osinachi, author of Children of Heaven, Scarlet Tears of London, Bye, Bye Mugabe, In the House of Dogs, and other books.


The Nigerian Prize for Literature is an annual literary competition to honour the author of the best book of the current year or the previous three years. The prize will rotate amongst four literary genres—prose fiction, poetry, drama & children's literature.

The competition is open only to published works. The competition bestows public recognition and a monetary award of $50, 000 on the winner. Two other writers will also be cited for honourable mention.

In addition to the immediate purpose of rewarding the authors of the best current writing, The Nigerian Prize for Literature has a number of other important goals. It is a means of making known to readers, publishers, booksellers and distributors, literary critics and reviewers, the latest achievements of the best writers in Nigeria. The competition contributes in a practical way to sustaining the tradition of excellence in Nigerian literature, discovering new authors and keeping older ones in focus.

The competition also serves to deepen awareness, among writers, of what literary excellence entails, by offering models and sources of inspiration. In this regard, the publicised comments of the judges' report are a means of clarifying what qualities are to be sought in good works of literature.

The publicity that comes with the awards is intended to have benefits beyond the immediate recognition for the winners. Specialists in the field of African literature are alerted to the presence of new works and writers whose achievements are worthy of scholarly attention. Through channels of information dissemination, such as the Internet, those in the international community interested in contemporary literature are also provided with an opportunity to learn about these achievements.

Finally, it is hoped that this prize will encourage publishers to be increasingly active on the literary scene, by bringing out, advertising and distributing more of the best current writing. Some of the judges' comments will concern the important role of publishers in fostering good writing, and in particular, the importance of careful editing, especially of children's books. Too often, authors feel that their main options are either to self-publish, which means bringing out unassessed and usually improvable books, or to publish abroad, relinquishing what should be their primary audience. This prize seeks to recognize those who are doing the most for Nigerian literature.

It is in everyone's long-term interest to make good writing known and more easily available, so that the local reading public grows and the market for books in turn expands.

No comments: