Over the past couple of years, the Etisalat Prize for Literature has created an avenue for breakthrough African writers to gain much needed home-based significance and appreciation. To promote the Prize further, the 2016 edition has been launched with a short film that should leave you (a bit) teary.
As described by Nmadiuto Uche for BusinessDay, the short film was produced by Tolulope Ajayi, with the rapidly rising Seun Ajayi as the subject. It will be a waste of your imagination and the thrill of the film to describe to you what happened. You can’t but grin at the creativity when, towards the end, he looks at the billboard and life becomes meaningful.
In a country and continent accused of being averse to anything written down, it will always be important to generate more creative ways to support and promote the work of writers. Make no mistake about it; Africa has writers in the literary genre as good in their craft as can be found in any other place in the world. From every country, African writers are telling the stories of Africa in ways that can be related with by people in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, the publishing industry has not had the kind of buoyancy that should see it take its rightful place as the bedrock of ideas forming our society.
With the Etisalat Prize, and with the innovative ways such as this short film being initiated to promote it, that should change soon. It opens up to writers the need to think outside the box for new and engaging ways to get people back to facing their books, leveraging on platforms such as audio and video.
The future of media is somewhat irreversibly going to be in video, with Facebook, Instagram and Snap leading the way. But as long as reading will continue to be a thing, in whatever form, writing will continue to thrive, and commercially too. As Oscar Wilde will put it, “Books are a uniquely potable magic”. Mobile electronic devices are potable, but who guarantees you power at all times?
Big ups to Etisalat.
The shortlisted authors for the 2016 prize are: Jowhor Ile (And After Many Days), Julie Iromuanya (Mr. and Mrs. Doctor), and Jacqui L’Ange (The Seed Thief). The winner will be announced at a ceremony on the 20th of May, 2017.
Feature Image: Screenshot from ‘Closed’ | 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature