Monday, 19 November 2012

ANA: Beyond the Harvest of Prizes

The annual convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom recently may have come and gone, but some writers will for long cuddle its memories. These are particularly those who won the various categories of ANA awards. Although the writers’ convention is often rich with ideas, dialogues, readings and performances, it climaxed with the declaration of the winners of the prizes that have, over the years, become expanded with the coming of sponsors.

The works that won are Odili Ujubuonu’s Pride of the Spider Clan (ANA Prose Fiction), Umari Ayim’s Inside my Head (ANA Poetry Prize), Sunnie Ododo’s Hard Choice (ANA Prize for Drama), Nnamdi Okose’s Children of the River (ANA/Esiaba Irobi Prize for Playwriting), Karo Okokoh’s Songs of a Griot (ANA/Gabriel Okara Poetry Prize), Nuela Onoye’s Behind the Dust (ANA/NECO Teen Author) and Camillus Ukah’s Nkechi the Heroine (ANA/ lantern Prize).
In spite of the challenges that the Remi Raji-Oyelade executive faced, including funding, it was able to, according to reports, observe the major rites and give participants a good time. As commendable as this is, however, the convention stirs a few questions that should be addressed as early as possible.

First is the fact that the number of prizes that were decided comparably shrank. As the Prof. John Sharpong-led jury observed, many writers have still not mastered the art of writing children literature. The panel declined to name any winner in the category because the ones shortlisted failed the principles of children’s writing. It noted that they were riddled with ‘big English’. What this suggests is that next time ANA wants to hold a workshop, it may have to dwell on this area.

But another challenge is the dwindling fortunes of the prizes – in terms of number and the fact that some of the major sponsors were not forthcoming this year. The association that used  to have up to 10 categories could only celebrate about five as some hitherto ‘juicy’ ones, including the $2000 ANA/Cadbury Poetry Prize, was not part of the list.

It is good that the exco has said that it will discuss with the sponsors. Yet, while doing this, the situation reminds one of a claim recently made by a former ANA’ Secretary-General, Nduka Otiono, that, in anticipation of a possible drought, the executive led by Prof. Olu Obafemi had deposited some N3.5m in the bank, to fund some of the prizes in perpetuity. The question he asked concerning where the money is has not been answered.

As a result, although the current executive has also observed that there was no such an amount in the account it inherited from its predecessors – the Wale Okedrian-led exco – Raji-Oyelade and his team still need to ask relevant questions on it.

Culled from PUNCH

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