On Saturday 19th, March 2016 at Intercontinental hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Fiston Mwanza Mujila won the third Etisalat Prize for Literature for his first novel, Tram 83. As we had predicted.
Tram 83, which is also on the Man Booker Prize 2016 long list, made it to the top from over 300 books initially submitted for the award. The 2015 judges, Professor Ato Quayson from Ghana, Zukiswa Wanner from South Africa and Molara Woods of Nigeria came up with three phenomenal books to contest for the awards. The shortlisted books were Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself by Penny Busetto and Rehana Rossouw’s What Will People Say?
While commenting on each of the books, Professor Quayson said of Tram 83 that, ‘It was a book that should be listened to with music,” an advice that the writer, Fiston Mwanza Mujila himself had encouraged when he said at the book reading that his book was like the parts of an orchestra.
Tram 83 came to life on the Etisalat Prize stage as an excerpt was performed, along with excerpts from the other shortlisted books.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature Awards Ceremony drew not just from the literati but from the creative industry in Nigeria. Hosted by Sope Martins and Jimi Sonuga, the event had actresses, musicians, comedians, fashion designers and representatives of several corporate brands in attendance.
The night was not just Fiston’s alone. Modupe Kuti, a medical student from the university of Ibadan went away with a one thousand pound prize for winning the flash fiction category with her story ‘Gone’.
The musical headliners for the evening, Darey Art Alade and Asa brought the evening to a perfect with Asa returning for an encore performance that had the audience on its feet, singing along and dancing to her songs old and new.
In the Prize for Literature for first novels, Etisalat is creating an enduring legacy not just for the winners themselves but for young writers who now have something from the continent to aspire to.