COMMONWEALTH WRITERS’ PRIZE REVEALS 2020 SHORTLIST
The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English from the commonwealth regions. £2,500 worth of cash goes to each of the regional winners, and a grand sum of £5,000 the overall winner
First won by New Zealand’s Emma Martin for Two Girls in a Boat in 2012, the prize has had renowned writers on its shortlists like; Akwaeke Emezi, Jekwu Anyaegbuna, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Lesley Nneka Arimah.
This year’s shortlist of 20 stories was sieved from a slush pile of over five thousand submissions. From Africa, five writers made the shortlist, including, for the first time, a Gambian writer named ML Kejera. Others are; Innocent Chizaram Ilo(Nigeria), Aba Asibon(Ghana), Alboricah Tokologo Rathupetsane( South Africa), and Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh (Nigeria).
LIBEL LAW SUIT LOOMS BETWEEN WRITER, HADIZA ISMA EL-RUFAI, AND ACTIVIST GROUP, NORTH NORMAL…
In the wake of the outcry against the rape threats made by Bello El-Rufai, the son of Kaduna State governor, on Twitter his mother, Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, threatened the activist group, North Normal, with a libel suit.
After relegating her son’s threat to, “All is fair in love and war”, the author of An Abundance of Scorpions rendered an apology hours later as outrage on her seeming endorsement of her son’s sexist threats permeated social media.
North Normal, an activist group founded in February 2019 by Fakhriyyah Hashim as a movement against sexual and physical violence on women in Northern Nigeria, had condemned the first lady’s act. In a press release, the group claimed that as the head of the Kaduna sexual assault task force, Hadiza El-Rufai’s conduct was unacceptable. They requested her to apologise and resign immediately from her post. Days later, Aidan Partners, , served a notice on the North Normal group, threatening a libel law suit against it for what it claimed to be the defamatory statements made by the group on their client, Hadiza El-Rufai. Specifically naming Fakhriyyah Hashim, Hassana Maina. and Farida Adamu, the notice maintainedclaimed that the Kaduna sexual assault task force was not in existence and as such, their client’s image had been distorted. They implored the writer to tender video apology from each of the named persons, and a written one published in reputable newspapers within seven days of issuing the notice. .
In response, Ephesis Lex, a human rights and public interest law firm released a statement reaffirming North Normal’s earlier press release. It countered the Aidan Partners’ demands and among other things, requested a written apology from the writer.
DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH LOLA SHONEYIN
The literary scene was heated up following the Brittle Paper’s abrupt sacking of its deputy editor, Otosirieze Obi-Young.
Writers like Romeo Oriogun, Tolu Daniel, Ebenezer Agu and Itiola Jones, amongst others, took to social media, expressing their displeasure at Brittle Paper’s stance while older writers such as Molara Wood and Kola Tunbosun showed support for the literary blog.
Amidst outrage and threats of visiting the cancel culture on Brittle Paper, accusations rose up from many corners of how the Nigerian literary scene is held hostage by older generation writers and gatekeepers like Lola Shoneyin.
In a bid to determine the jurisdiction and as well, the definition, of a gatekeeper, journalist, Ruona Meyer who is known for her tenacious online prowess, invited Shoneyin for a tell-all conversation on Instagram.
On the session, Shoneyin noted that while most people know her simply as the author of her renowned prose, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, or as a Festival director, she had been advocating for literature and the arts since she was a teen.
Referencing her tweets, Shoneyin revealed that she was shortlisted for the ANA Poetry Prize in 1997, for her collection, So All The Time I was Sitting on an Egg, and won the 1998 ANA Prose Prize for her manuscript of short stories titled, A Woman in Her Season.
In 2003, she founded (and edited) a literary magazine in Ibadan which published popular names like poet, Uche Nduka, Helon Habila, Tade Ipadeola and Tolu Ogunlesi. Meyer expressed surprise that Shoneyin, like other older writers, have done so much for literature with little reports on such developments. The interviewer urged Shoneyn to create archives that the younger generation could access, reference and learn from.
Amidst questions on how Ake festival has grown into one of the largest literary festivals in Africa, Shoneyin answered that it is a culmination of her hard work; she explained that in 2009, she and Dapo Oyewole founded a monthly literary event called Infusion which hosted guests including satirist, Elnathan John; author of Fine Boys, Eghosa Imasuen; Pamela Braide, Olusegun Adeniyi.
As the session came to a close, Shoneyin was asked to give young festival planners advice, and she replied, “Just do it. Don’t keep talking about it, do it.”
The news writer, Timi has his bio in the members’ profile section.