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Helon Habila Chairs The 2016 Etisalat Prize For Literature

Foremost novelist, Helon Habila is the chair of panel of judges for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature. Matthew Willsher, chief executive officer, Etisalat Nigeria said this on Wednesday at a press briefing in Lagos to announce the Judging Panel for the 2016 literary prize.

The panel comprises Habila, as the Chair of Judges, South African writer and activist Elinor Sisulu and Ivorian writer, Edwige Rene Dro as members. The Chair of judges was present at the briefing as well as two of the Prize Patrons: renowned literary icon, Professor Kole Omotoso and awards-winning author, Dele Olojede.

Willsher, while speaking about the uniqueness of the Etisalat Prize, said it is designed to serve as a leading platform for the discovery and encouraging of creative writing talents as well as the celebration of literary arts by African writers.

“We are delighted to champion the cause for celebrating the richness and strength of African literature. Etisalat Prize for Literature is about discovering and bringing to the world stage the many creative talent Africa boasts of. The Etisalat Prize is about creativity, excellence, empowerment and reward; it is about celebrating our African diversity in very innovative ways through various forms of art, literature being one of them”, he said.

In his remark, Habila said he looks forward to those discussions that will arise from the entries for the 2016 awards. “I don’t see this as a challenge,” he explained. “I see it has an opportunity to engage with some of the best works from Africa. One of the reasons we are under appreciated is because we have left the publishing to foreign publishers. Etisalat is not only giving the prize but they are making the books available in libraries across the continent.”

Kole Omotosho, patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature challenged the media to focus on the implications of the prize beyond the winners. “We need to look at the prize as one that supports the institution elements of the book industry. The prize is about the writer, publisher, author. It will be nice if the media will look at this.”

Furthermore, Willsher explained only books by debutant writers published not later than 24 months before submission, will qualify for entry. “They must also be by registered publishing houses not less than six years as incorporated publishers with registered ISBN Number or the equivalent, and who must have published a minimum of six authors. All entries should be accompanied by seven copies of the book entered along with an acceptance of our publicity terms. A publisher may submit a maximum of three books. The rules and guidelines for entry are available at, he said.

Etisalat’s call for entries to the 2016 edition of the Pan-African Prize, Etisalat Prize for Literature is coming just a few months after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila won the 2015 edition of the Prize with his first novel, Tram 83.