The Committee For Relevant Art (CORA) will, this afternoon, crown the winner of the Ken Saro Wiwa Critical Review Competition at the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), holding at Freedom Park on Broad Street in Lagos.
The winner, who will receive a bank draft for 100,000Naira as well as a certificate, emerged out of several entries received in the course of the two week long competition.The competition, the first in recent times for book reviews, was for reviews of any one of five works of Ken Saro Wiwa’s fiction and drama.It was open to Nigerians aged between 18 and 41, i.e those who were either not born, or were just teenagers or at most aged 21, at the time of the death of this Nigerian Literary icon.
Toni Kan, chairman of the panel of judges, said that two outstanding essays towered above other reviews and were too close to call. These two reviews were “distinguished by elegant prose, attention to detail and a perspicacious understanding of what it means to read and review a book…They were so close Uzo Maxim Uzoatu asked that they both be declared joint winners and so we had to seek a 3rd opinion,” Mr. Kan reported in his Judges’ statement .
“These top reviewers have given us two great works, one better only by a margin, a margin created not by superior intelligence per se, but by a decision to venture further in a spirit of abandon,” Kan declared.
CORA is enormously grateful to the judges for agreeing to do this at such terribly short notice and following through. “We see in these two writers, the significant possibilities of the continent and we salute their spirit of respoinsibility”, notes Jahman Anikulapo, CORA’s programme chairman.
With the successful outcome of this competition, ie, the emrgence of a winner who has so impressed the judges, CORA is encouraged to run this Book Review Competition Every Year. “We reiterate that this competition serves to improve on the human infrastructure of reading; there cannot be a robust literary/literacy subculture, or a book market, without a vibrant review culture. We hope it helps fortify the grounds on which conversations of culture stand, in the Nigerian arts landscape. “So much effort has been paid, by sundry sponsors, to writers of books and less to the infrastructure of reading. CORA fancies itself as a landscapist and as we have pioneered the idea of Book Festivals with programme content, as opposed to book fairs in the country, we also want to sow seeds in the area of getting whole communities, as opposed to writers alone, to share in the joy of reading.
For: Committee for Relevant Art
Toyin Akinosho, Secretary General