9mobile Prize For literature

Nigerian Writer, Ayobami Adebayo, who is the writer of ‘Stay With Me’ has been named the winner of the 2018 9mobile Prize for Literature. She was declared the winner after a one-year hiatus.

Adebayo was pitted against Nneka Lesley Arimah (Nigeria), What it means when a man falls down from the sky; and Marcus Low (South Africa), Asylum for the £15,000 prize money.

In addition to the prize money of $15,000, other rewards for Adebayo include a 9mobile-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia where she will be mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland’.

Her announcement followed the unanimous selection of her book by the judging panel for the 2018 9mobile Prize for Literature chaired by Nigerian academic Professor Harry Garuba and supported by Siphiwo Mahala and Doreen Baingana.

9mobile Prize For literature

Congratulating the winner and the runners-up, the Acting Managing Director, 9mobile, Stephane Beuvelet, reiterated the company’s commitment to continuously support Nigerians and other Africans with the best platforms to express their passion and creativity.

Beuvelet, who was represented by the Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, Abdulrahman Ado, said, “We will continue our sponsorship of the prize. It will continue. I assure you it’s not sunset yet.”

In her acceptance speech, Adebayo expressed shock at emerging the winner of the coveted prize and commended the runners-up.

“It was unexpected. I’m surprised, not just in terms of winning the prize itself because it was a very strong shortlist. The other books were very amazing. Leslie Arimah’s collection of short stories, I think, is one of the best books that was published that year. Marcus Low’s Asylum is also really brilliant. So, it’s surprising to win the prize. I’m shocked,” she said.

Stay With Me, set between 1985 and 2008 in Nigeria, explores a contemporary marriage in a Yoruba community stubbornly tied to tradition. It revolves around a childless couple – Akin and Yejide. They are young, educated Nigerians with modern sensibilities about work, marriage, and children. Everything appears perfect until Akin’s mother and aunts begin pressuring them to have children, something they have been unable to do despite years of trying.

Despite suspicious in-laws, scheming second wives, and secretive spouses, Yejide and Akin try to break from their obstinate middle-class neighbors’ outdated views on matrimony.

Akin, an accountant and the eldest son in an influential family, initially rejects the notion of polygamy; Yejide takes pride in her successful beauty salon and her forward-thinking views on life and motherhood. Yejide’s inability to get pregnant, however, tests the couple’s values, and their future.

The 9mobile Prize for Literature is the first pan-African literary prize that celebrates African first-time writers of published fiction. It is open solely to writers from African countries, resident anywhere in the world.

Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo won the inaugural edition of the prize in 2014 with ‘We need new names’, while South African novelist Songeziwe Mahlangu won with ‘Penumbra’ in 2015.

Fiston Mwanza Mujila from the Democratic Republic of Congo won in 2016 with ‘Tram 83’, and in 2017’ Nigeria’s Jowhor Ile won for his first book, ‘And After Many Days’.

Musa Suleiman
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