Anambra State Government Endows N1m Literary Prize in Honour of Achebe

Anambra State Government Endows N1m Literary Prize in Honour of Achebe

By Izunna Okafor, Awka

As a way of honouring the legendary Nigerian writer, Prof. Chinua Achebe, and marking the 40th anniversary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) he founded in 1981; Anambra State Government has endowed N1million Chinua Achebe Prize for Nigerian Writing.

The State's Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, made the endowment known while speaking to journalists in Awka, the Anambra State capital, during which he also disclosed that the prize would be administered by ANA.

According to Adinuba, Gov. Willie Obiano approved the endowment to demonstrate his love and flair for liberal arts and commitment to immortalising famous fathers of the state among whom Achebe deserves celebration not only in his native Anambra State but also all over Nigeria, Africa and the world as the globally acclaimed Father of African literature.

Explaining that the prize will be awarded to the best novel published by a Nigerian writer in each calendar year, Adinuba stated that it would be distinctive from the usually awarded ANA Fiction Prize, ANA Poetry Prize, ANA Drama Prize etc in the sense that it will draw entries from distinguished publishers in Nigeria, Africa and the world.

Commending the endowment, a professor of Literature at Imo State University and National President of ANA, Camilus Uka, said that Gov. Obiano had shown the way to other governors of South East.

“By instituting the Chinua Achebe Prize for Nigerian Writing, the Anambra State Government has written its name in history as the first state government in Nigeria to honour a writer. In an era of crass philistinism in Nigeria”, he declared in a telephone conversation with Commissioner Adinuba this morning, adding that “it is reassuring that there are top government officials like Chief Obiano who appreciate ideas, letters and culture."

It would be recalled that Achebe blazed a trail in the world of literature when he published the classic Things Fall Apart on June 17, 1958 at barely 27 years of age. The novel has since been translated into well over 60 languages and ignited a boom in African writing. Other works of Achebe include No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, Anthills of the Savannah.

It would also recalled that members of the Society of Young Nigerian Writers, SYNW, Anambra State Chapter has been on the frontline in the call for immortalization of Achebe and endowment of at least a literary prize in his honour, being a great author who died since March 31, 2013, without any form of honour in his name. 

It is therefore a  heart-gladening thing for these promising young writers to see that the state government has finally given heed to their call to immortalize Achebe, which they made both through a communiqué, their annual Chinua Achebe Literary Festival, their Chinua Achebe Poetry/Essay Anthology, among other means.