Young writers, Chiziterem Chijioke and Afolabi Olayinka-Bello have emerged winners of the Quramo Writers Prize and the Quramo Poetry Slam Competition, of the 2023 Quramo Festival of Words both held October 6 and 8 at the Eko Hotel, Lagos.
Chijioke’s prose manuscript Dear Zini won the Quramo Writers Prize ensuring the recent graduate of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo State, a N1m cash prize and a publishing contract with Quramo Publishing for her work; while Olayinka-Bello’s poetry pieces reflective of topical societal and familial issues clinched him the N100, 000 cash prize.
Chijioke’s Dear Zini was among the five manuscripts to make the prize’s shortlist of five following weeks of review and assessment by the three-man jury – based on their originality, literary quality, thematic depth, character development and overall impact. Others include Truth Bakare’s Summer Blooms and Mujahid Ameen Lilo’s Landscape of Loss, which came in second and third place respectively, and Zainab Imam’s The Lagos Love Story and Vera Sorochi David’s Walking With Abba.
Speaking of their choice of Dear Zini, the jury said, “Dear Zini is a poignant exploration of a young woman’s journey through life’s unexpected twists and turns. The manuscript skilfully employs the first-person perspective to immerse readers in Zimife (the protagonist) world, capturing the nuances of her emotional rollercoaster with authenticity. The narrative’s originality shines through its portrayal of contemporary issues in Lagos, Nigeria, including unplanned pregnancy and the societal pressures that follow. The protagonist is a testament to the writer’s talent for creating relatable and multidimensional protagonists.”
Meantime, Olayinka-Bello snagged the first position at the Quramo Poetry Slam Competition following an over two-hour showdown slam of male and female poets. The poet’s performance, and rich content-driven verses/lines including The Protest, Lagos Palava, Parental Guidance, Redemption Computed and The Price of Redemption clinched him the win from both the audience comprising journalists, authors – Jude Idada, Anote Ajelourou, Kenyan writer, James Murua, and the festival convener, Mrs Gbemi Shasore.
By popular demand from the audience Saheed Sunday came up second to Olayinka-Bello to walk away with a N50, 000 cash prize, whilst, fast-rising writer, performer and winner of the Beeta Universal Arts Foundation Playwright Contest, Achalugo Chioma Ilozumba had a good outing at the event.
Impressed by the number of poetic talents in the country, Murua pronounced Nigeria ‘a powerhouse of African poetry’, noting that in Kenya perhaps only a few poets would have shown up to perform. “Nigeria is teeming with abundant poetry talents. This is incredible.”
Founded in 2017, by Quramo Publishing, Quramo Festival of Words is aimed at building bridges where there are none, and equipping fledgling creatives for the expansion of the creative industries, while fostering visibility for literary works that mirror real Nigerian and African experiences.