After a process that drew different reactions from different interests, Tade Ipadeola successfully emerged as the winner of the 2013 the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) prize for literature with his book titled ‘The Sahara Testament.’
Ipadeola’s ‘The Sahara Testament’ was earlier shortlisted along with Amu Nnadi’s ‘Through the Windows of Sandcastle’ and Ogochukwu Promise’s ‘Wild Letters’ ahead of the grand finale from an initial list of 11 entries released in August.
All the entries this year were on poetry in line with NLNG’s yearly rotation of the prize among four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2013 prize, which comes with a prize of $100,000, goes to Ipadeola, the Ibadan-based poet and lawyer. Next year’s NLNG prize will be on drama.
He was announced as the winner on Wednesday at the Oceanview Restaurant by the General Manager, External Relations of NLNG, Kudo Eresia-Eke.
Eresia-Eke said, in arriving as winner, Ipadeola used “Sahara as a metonym for the problems of Africa and indeed the whole of humanity.” According to the judges, the poet demonstrates “an outstanding level of intellectual exposure and knowledge, language use, awareness of literature.”
An elated Ipadeola said: “I am elated; it is not every day that one wins such a previous prize as the NLNG.”
A poet and lawyer, Ipadeola lives in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State. He has authored three volumes of poetry – ‘A Time of Signs’ (2000) and ‘The Rain Fardel’ (2005) and ‘The Sahara Testaments’ – along with other published short stories and essays, according to a brief on his person posted on the NLNG website.
He is the current President of PEN International, Nigeria Centre, an organization which promotes literature and advocates freedom of expression, and a former legal adviser of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
‘The Sahara Testaments’ has been described by critics as an exceptional deliberate effort of the poet to explore transnational decimals and the role of Africa in shaping the world.
Born in 1970, Ipadeola won the Delphic Laurel in poetry with his poem ‘Songbird’ in Jeju, South Korea.
Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo is the chairman of the Advisory Board of the NLNG Prize for Literature, while Romanus Egudu, a Professor of English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu State and former president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, is the chairman of the panel of judges.
Other members of the panel are Prof. Omolara Ogundipe of the Department of English, University of Port-Harcourt, Rivers State and Dr. Andrew Aba of the Department of English, Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State.
Other members of the Advisory Board, besides Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, are Dr. Jerry Agada, former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors and Prof. Ben Elugbe, former president of the Nigerian Academy of Letters.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara for his volume of poetry ‘The Dreamer, His Vision’ (co-winner 2004 – poetry); Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry ‘Chants of a Minstrel’ (co-winner 2004 poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2005 – drama) for his book ‘Hard Ground’; Mabel Segun (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) for her collection of short plays ‘Reader’s Theatre’; Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner 2007 – children’s literature) with her book ‘My Cousin Sammy’; Kaine Agary (2008 – prose) for her novel ‘Yellow Yellow’; Esiaba Irobi (2010 – drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book ‘Cemetery Road’; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011 – children’s literature) with his book ‘The Missing Clock’ and Chika Unigwe (2012 – prose), with her novel ‘On Black Sisters’ Street’.