Awards to African books
The Nigerian Book Foundation Award
The Nigerian Book Foundation's 1999 Outstanding
Achievement Award in Book Development was made to Chief Victor Uzoma
Nwankwo, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Fourth Dimension Publishing
Company Ltd. Reproduced below are extracts from the citation made at
the award ceremony.
The preoccupation of the typical
chief executive of a Nigerian publishing company is to maximise his
company's annual turnover and profit margin. The broader issues of national,
African, and international book development are of minimal concern to
him. Chief Nwankwo is, naturally, concerned with the progress of his
publishing company. Under him, Fourth Dimension Publishing Company Ltd.
has built up an impressive list of titles, particularly on scholarly
works and children's literature. His company set up the first in-house
desktop publishing unit in a Nigerian publishing house. The company
won the 1994 Legal Deposit award conferred by the National Library of
The significant difference between Chief Nwankwo
and his fellow Nigerian publishers lies in his breadth of vision. He
looked beyond his nose, and saw that the healthy growth of Fourth Dimension
is inextricably linked with the state of national and international
book development. Chief Nwankwo is also well known as a man of action,
imbued with the philosophy to 'always make a difference'.
In 1989, after only five years as a full-time
publisher (from a 13-year civil/structural engineering background),
Chief Nwankwo was probably the first head of a publishing company located
East of the Niger and away from the Lagos/Ibadan axis to become President
of the Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), a position he held from
1989 to 1991. While NPA President, he founded the Nigerian Book League,
bringing together the major professional associations in the book sector,
and served as its President from 1989 to 1992. He was appointed to the
Board of the Nigerian Educational Research & Development Council
(NERDC), representing the Nigerian book industry, from 1989 to 1993,
at a time when a national book policy was in the making. He became an
active contributor to the founding in 1991 of the Nigerian Book Foundation,
Nigeria's non-profit, non-governmental, national book development organization.
The Distinguished Publisher Award conferred by the NPA on Chief Nwankwo
in 1995 bears eloquent testimony to the high rating he enjoys from his
In 1986 Chief Nwankwo became a member of the
Council of Management of the African Books Collective Ltd. (ABC), Oxford,
UK. ABC is a successful initiative which is helping African publishers
to market their books overseas, particularly in Europe and the USA.
Because of the quality of his contributions, Chief Nwankwo has remained
on the Council ever since.
Chief Nwankwo's election in 1992 as the Founding
Chairman of the Board of the African Publishers Network (APNET) launched
him firmly into international book publishing and development. The impressive
achievements of APNET in its first five years of existence, particularly
in establishing a mutually rewarding relationship between African publishers,
in grappling with some of the key impediments to book publishing in
Africa, and in speaking as one respected voice for African publishing
with such international bodies as the World Bank, UNESCO, and the Bellagio
group, can be ascribed to Chief Nwankwo's astute and charismatic leadership.
And his integrity. Uncharacteristic of 20th Century African leaders,
Chief Nwankwo pegged the maximum term of any APNET Chairman to four
years, and set a shining example by successfully resisting all attempts
to waive the regulation in his own case. Little wonder that APNET conferred
on him its Merit Award for distinguished service to publishing development
in Africa at the end of his tenure.
Ghana Publisher of the Year Award 1999
In December 1999 Africa Christian Press received
Ghana's Publisher of the Year award in recognition of the Company's
'immense contribution to book development in Ghana'
Caine Prize 2000
The first Caine Prize for African Writing was
presented at ZIBF 2000 to Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela, for her short
story 'The Museum', in Opening Spaces. Published in 1999 jointly by
Heinemann's African Writers Series and Baobab Books of Zimbabwe, Opening
Spaces is an anthology of African women's writing edited by award-winning
Zimbabwean writer Yvonne Vera.
Four other writers shortlisted for the prize included
three Zimbabweans, Charles Mungoshi for Walking Still, Shimmer Chinodya
for Can We Talk?, and Rory Kilalea for 'Whine of a Dog' in The New Writer.
Also shortlisted was Djibouti writer Abdourahman Waberi, for his story
'The Gallery of the Insane' in XciTes. The judges commended four other
writers, Funso Aiyejina of Nigeria, Ama Ata Aidoo of Ghana, and Farida
Karodia and Peter Horn, both of South Africa.
Launched in the UK, the prize is named after
Sir Michael Caine, the founder of the Booker Prize, who died in 1999,
bequeathing funds for a foundation to support African creative writing.
The prize, worth US$15,000, focuses on the short story or the narrative
poem, as reflecting the contemporary development of the African story-telling
tradition. The five-member international judging panel for the Caine
award was chaired by Nigerian novelist and Booker prizewinner, Ben Okri.
The 2000 Noma award has been won by Ufundishaji
wa Fasihi: Nadharia na Mbinu (the Teaching of Literature: Theory
and Methods) by Kimanu Njogu and Rocha Chimerah. The book, in Kiswahili,
was published in Nairobi 1999 by the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation.
The jury, chaired by Walter Bgoya of Tanzania,
described the book as 'an invaluable contribution to the understanding
and teaching of Kiswahili literature
It is probably the first book
of its kind to be written and published in an African language.' They
commended the book 'for addressing the marginalisation of African indigenous
languages, and the tendency, through globalisation, for African languages
to be silenced.'
The authors present
a survey of the development of Kiswahili literary genres and discuss
the major concepts and theories of literature. They propose the most
appropriate theory for teaching in secondary schools and colleges: that
which recognises the social basis of all literary phenomena.
The jury once again
stressed the importance of production standards and stated that however
excellent its content, a book would not be considered for the award
unless production was good.
The $10,000 award will be presented at the Cairo International Book Fair, 24 January - 6 February
100 titles were submitted for the 2000 award
from 50 African publishers, seven fewer titles and 17 fewer publishers
than in 1999.
The 1999 Noma award was presented in November of that year in Australia
during the Annual & International Conference of the African Studies
Association of Australasia and the Pacific. The prize went to L'interprétation
des rêves dans la région Sénégambienne, suivi
de la clef des songes de la Sénégambie, de l'Egypte pharaonique
et de la tradition islamique (The interpretation of dreams in the
Senegambian region, with a key to dreams from Senegambia, Pharaonic
Egypt and the Islamic tradition) by Djibril Samb, Les Nouvelles Editions
Africaines du Sénégal, Dakar, 1998. This work is a study
of the structure of ideas and symbolic significance associated with
the dream. Focusing on dreams in Sénégambian culture,
the study is set in the context of the ideas held by the ancient Egyptians,
by writers and thinkers of classical Greece, and by the Judaeo-Christian
and Islamic traditions. [end] [BPN,
no 2627, 2000, p. 17.]
to table of contents for BPN Newsletter 26-27, 2000>>