Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unbridled up for $50,000 Literary Prize

Jude Dibia is young, handsome (as the picture clearly tells us) and, hopefully for him, soon to be rich. His book Unbridled is one of two up for this year’s Nigera Prize for Literature along with Kaine Agary’s Yellow- Yellow. The Nigeria Prize for Literature is sponsored by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas. According to The Sun Online, the prize “aims to celebrate excellence in literature as well as bring writers to public attention. The prize, which was reviewed upwards from last year’s prize of $30,000, rotates yearly among four literary genres of prose, poetry, drama and children’s literature”.

One can have a lot to say about the petrochemical industry in Nigeria, but we must give kudos to such companies that single out the arts. In Africa, being a writer is a tough job. Few overseas publishers want to speak with you and locally the book buying public is prohibitively small. This means few authors can write fulltime. They must squeeze it into the little time remaining after trying to earn a living. These big money prizes give African writers a chance to breathe and the companies that sponsor them should be congratulated.

Companies are inundated with calls for corporate sponsorship on a continent with many problems to fix. It is heartening that these companies can look beyond and see the critical role of the arts in society.

In Botswana, we have the cell phone company Orange, which sponsors our bi-annual Botswerere Awards for creative writers, musicians, artists, actors and dancers. In South Africa there is the Sanlam Prize for children’s literature as well as the annual BTA/AngloPlatinum Short Story Contest. These are just examples, but the point is these companies are doing an important thing and others should join in their effort.


Karen said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the arts were celebrated and supported all around the world? Imagine the peace that might bring...

Lauri said...

Wouldn't it be nice if all the big companies around the world gacve 10% of their profits to the arts?