Etisalat Nigeria has assembled a strong panel of judges for the maiden edition of its pan-African prize for literature, Etisalat Prize for Literature. The panel of four is chaired by Pumla Gqola, an associate professor in the department of African Literature at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Gqola is one of South Africa’s most influential public intellectuals and feminists. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? Postcolonial/Slave Memory in Post-Apartheid South Africa and A Renegade Called Simphiwe.
Other great minds in the literary panel include Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Zakes Mda, and Billy Kahora. Manyika, a literature teacher at the San Francisco State University, comes with a repertoire of published essays, academic papers, book reviews and short stories. An alumnus of the University of Birmingham and Bordeaux, she completed her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. Her first novel, In Dependence, was published by Legend Press as well as Cassava Republic Press, in Africa, and featured for Black History Month by the UK’s largest book store chain.
Mda is a prolific novelist, poet and playwright. He is also a founding member and serves on the advisory board of African Writers Trust. He has won major literary awards for his novels and plays, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of the University of Cape Town for his contributions to world literature and was a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Ohio. He is also a Patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
Kahora is the managing editor of the literary Journal, Kwani. He completed an M.Sc in Creative Writing with a distinction as a Chevening Scholar at the University of Edinburgh in 2007 and was, in 2012, announced as one of the shortlisted writers for the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing. Before this, he studied and worked in South Africa for eight years and worked as an editorial assistant for AllAfrica.com in Washington D.C. He was also a regional judge for the 2009 Commonwealth Prize.
Commenting on the choice of judges for the award, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Steven Evans explained that Etisalat is breathing life into the pan-African vision by “bringing together high profile writers, book critics and academics from Africa and beyond gives credence to home grown talent and encourages further participation in the world of literature.”
He said Etisalat engaged in extensive research coming up with the right judges for the literary award, and expressed the belief that the selected judges will bring their experience to bear on the Etisalat Prize for Literature. The judges, he added, are tasked with developing the longlist of nine novels, as well as a shortlist of three novels before finally selecting a winner. Entries are ongoing, having opened on June 5, 2013, and would close on 30th August, 2013. The panel will unveil their shortlisted entries on January 15, 2014, while winners will be announced in February, 2014.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is poised to celebrate new writers of African citizenship, whose first book must be over 30,000 words and published within 24 months of the period of the award. Entries are now open and details on how to enter and entry forms are available online at www.etisalatprize.com.