Since the inception of one of the most prestigious literature prize in Nigeria and arguably, Africa, organized by one of Nigeria’s telecommunications giants, Etisalat, for new voices of African origin in the literary world, our very own Jowhor Ile’s has emerged the winner of the 2016 edition with his first novel ‘And After Many Days’ which was published by Kachifo Limited.
The announcement was made at the presentation ceremony which took place two months behind schedule. The novel was picked over Jacqui L’Ange’s (South Africa) ‘The Seed Thief’ and Juliet Iromuanya’s ‘Mr and Mrs Doctor’. Helon Habila, an award winning author and the chairman of the panel of Judges in his remarks congratulated the winner and the runners-up. He disclosed that the three writers were selected from a long list after fulfilling some criteria and the prize-winning book met the required standards of originality, creative excellence and African sensibility in keeping with the objective of the Etisalat Prize which is to promote literary excellence in Africa.
Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, congratulated the winner and the runners-up, and restated the company’s commitment to continuously offer Nigerians and other Africans the best platforms to express their passion and creativity.
In addition to the fifteen thousand pounds prize money, other rewards for Ile include an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia where he will be mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of ‘The Last King of Scotland’. He and the two runners-up will participate in a multi-city book tour of three African countries also sponsored by Etisalat Nigeria. Furthermore, Etisalat will purchase 1,000 copies of their books for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across Africa. Past winners of the Etisalat Prize for Literature include Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila, for his novel, ‘Tram 83’ (2015) ; South African writer, Songeziwe Mahlangu for his novel, ‘Penumbra’ (2014) and Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo for her novel ‘We Need New Names’ (2013).
‘And After Many Days’ is an interesting story that’s set in Port Harcourt in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. It tells the travails of a family whose 17-year old son, Paul Utu, goes missing during the rainy season of 1995. Burdened with the sudden loss, the family gets torn apart, as their search for answers uncovers several other family secrets.