Grit, a play by Obari Gomba, has emerged as the winner of the 2023 NLNG Prize for Literature, worth $100,000. Gomba is a lecturer of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa (USA).
He beat two other finalists, Abideen Ojomu with Ojuelegba Crossroads, and Henry Akubuiro, Yamtarawala – The Warrior King, out of the 143 entries that were submitted for the prize, which focuses on drama this year.
The announcement was made on Friday at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, at a special event.
The Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, chaired by Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, praised the three plays for their excellence in dramatology, language, performance, story, and structure.
The board also said the plays represented the best of Nigerian literature and the artistic vision that The Nigeria Prize for Literature strives to promote.
The board stated: “Grit by Obari Gomba is a remarkable play that goes beyond its pages. It tells a captivating story that has left a lasting impression and its production quality is superb.
“Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu is a rich play that explores our social and political realities. It shows how everyday struggles and choices can lead to conflict or harmony.
“Yamtarawala – The Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro is a thrilling play that has the potential to be adapted for both stage and screen. It has dramatic twists that keep the audience engaged and excited.”
Professor Victor K. Yankah from the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, was the International Consultant for this year’s edition of the Prize.
In 2018, the last time the prize was awarded for drama, Soji Cole won with his play Embers. He was shortlisted along with Denja Abdullahi (Death and The King’s Grey Hair) and Akanji Nasiru (The Rally).
Other members of the Advisory Board include Professor Olu Obafemi and Professor Ahmed Yerima.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, NLNG, and rotates yearly among four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.