By Anote Ajeluorou
Telecommunication operator, Globacom Nigeria Limited, has been commended for emerging lead sponsor of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Making the commendation during the week was spokesperson for Creative Allaince, Mr. Seun Jegede, who said the ascendancy in literary creativity in the country needed the support such as the one The Lumina Foundation, organiser of the prize, brokered with Globacom.
Jegede tasked other corporations in the country to follow the example of the telecom operator to give the nation’s cultural expressions needed boost. He noted that in spite of the achievements and numerous awards Nigerian writers have received over the years to establish Nigeria as a global leader in culture production, the nation’s writers were still something of orphans, as local recognitions in terms of financial reward was still low or even lacking.
Jegede also said Creative Alliance, organisers of the short story competition Literary Star Search, was also happy that Nigerians had dominated the prize since its inception since 2005 with four of the five winners being Nigerians. This is in spite of the fact that the judges usually came from five African countries, with only one coming from Nigeria. This year is on exception, with eight writers already in the longlisted writers released last week in Lagos.
He therefore tasked the management of Globacom Nigeria Limited to also extend its ambassadorial roles to Nigerian writers as it was doing to music and movie stars, arguing that Nigerian writers were better stars deserving of the lucrative deal that the Globacom ambassadorial role conferred on those so honoured. Jegede said he based his argument on the fact that outputs from Nigerian writers had ennobling values for the Nigeria, nay African, society than most of the trash coming from the music and movie sub-sectors, and added that the writers still ensured the wholesomeness of Africa’s culture as against what the music and movies were doing to erode it.
Also, Jegede said the music and movies coming out of the country were further deepening illiteracy with the bad English being spoken in most Nollywood films, whereas the literary workers still ensured standard use of the only lingua franca (English) for the benefit of readers of the works being produced.
Jegede charged Globacom not to base their selection criteria only on the razzmatazz of show business but to base it on the lasting values writers bring to the table in deepening social values, creating a truly literate generation of Nigerians. Writers, he noted, were grassroots people, who were also capable of giving mileage to any product. He further stressed that no society can make progress based on how many showbiz stars it produced but on the literate young ones it can produce, which he said Nigerian writers have assiduously done over the years.
He further disclosed that contestants in the Literary Star Search short story contest would be in for the best of times when the prize winners are announced next month, adding that the judges were working hard to sift the grains from the shafts.