Arts & Entertainments

How Oluwaseun emerged winner of Quramo Writers’ Prize

…as QFest 2021 ends

Akinnimi Akintomiwa Oluwaseun was penultimate Sunday announced as winner of Quramo Writers’ Prize 2021 for his entry, ‘Looking Glass Bullet’, beating the other top contenders, Cynthia Nnadi, for her entry, ‘Fate of the Forlorn’, and Ifeanyi Ekpunobi, for the entry, ‘Dark Spots of Light’, as they emerged 1st and 2nd runners-up respectively. The winner of the Quramo Writers’ Prize receives a cash prize of N1million and a development publishing deal for his manuscript. The unveiling of winner was the climax of this year’s edition of Quramo Festival of Words (QFest), an annual literacy and arts festival birthed from the Quramo Writers’ Prize. It aims to attract emerging and established literary enthusiasts.

The focus of QFest is to reiterate the power of words, which is the foremost medium of expression, and discover ways to harness that power. QFest encourages human interaction, literary expression, and creative growth through collaboration and positive reinforcement.

This year’s edition, themed ‘Transcendence: Words Defying’, was a three-day celebration, featuring workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions, film and documentary screenings, book readings, open mic performances, theatre, and the unveiling of the Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) 2021 winner.

There was also QBookcafe at the festival venue each day, where the works of writers and publishers were displayed and sold to the festival audience. Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) is a writing award for unpublished writers who are working every day to develop their craft and record Africa’s original stories. According to the organisers, Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) aims to encourage and stimulate a new community of talented writers, providing an opportunity for otherwise unexposed talent to achieve encouragement and publishing recognition.

In her address at the opening of the festival, held at Eko Hotels, Lagos, the CEO Quramo, Gbemi Shasore, explained the idea behind the choice of the theme, noting that in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, this festival, as always, provides a long recharge, to reimagine the world and to face its vagaries – COVID-19 included. “This year we are celebrating Transcendence: Words Defying.

This global experts beyond normal, it is transcendence. It is business and leisure unusual. Only our power to connect with words will ensure that the global community, Africa especially, defies the ill effects of today’s time. Words are leading the way.

“We are happy to annually gather wordsters or wordsmiths, whichever you prefer, to think together, share new stories, trade experiences, display new creations, text ideas – new and old – to challenge obstacles in the way of progress, to disrupt negatives, to change some mindsets, to shake the cage and… just enjoy each other’s company.

“This year, we have words from technology, social media, journalism, illustration, film, poetry, drama, in con ersation, workshop, masterclass, from music, but at the core of our festival offerings are books,” she said. She further stated that over 400 entries were received, and after several weeks of judging, a shortlist of five entries emerged, adding that, “In this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, this festival, as always, provides a long recharge, to reimagine the world and to face its vagaries – COVID-19 included.

“Being here means you are ready to join hands with us to rebuild the world on the other side of this pandemic. Look out for ways you can support our ‘iRead campaign’ to improve both literacy and the reading culture in Africa.” Also, in his opening remark as the special guest of honour, renowned dramatist and theatre scholar, Prof. Ahmed Yerima, noted that words allow the writer to be helpful to the world.

“When people say ‘Fela lives’, I believe it is the strength of his words that lives. By now I am sure you know that I am a multi-culturalist playwright, which means that I write on every culture of the Nigerian people. My latest plays are ‘Sanusi’ and ‘King Jaja of Opobo’. I find these very interesting because it allows me to know more about my people, their cultures, history and language. In the languages they speak, I find the integral differences in the motifs, images, imageries, proverbs and symbols.

This allows me to transcend from reality to the illusionary world where I am able to conjure the characters which will help appeal to the three major aspects of playwriting; the evocation of the feeling and form, the aesthetics of the play which combine to send messages of the play to the audience. The audience must understand your words in order to have a proper grasp of the play, and then be able to empathize with the thematic preoccupation of the playwright. “Words allow the writer to be helpful to the world, beautify the world and leave an epitaph with the world.

It allows the writer to leave a legacy that defies time. Words finally allow the writer to seek the truth about existence. But has any one artist ever succeeded in doing that? No, it only finds a small space for him or her to be remembered for, for life. So, to the new writers, the world is yours to take with your word.”

Highlights of QFest 2021 include ‘QConversation’, which had the renowned Nigerian filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi, as guest in conversation with Bikiya Graham Douglas; ‘The Seat’ featuring award-winning Oyinka Braithwaite, in conversation with three young writers. Also, the Author and Book chats were incisive and revealing, while the panels, as expected, sparked important conversations among experts and thought leaders.

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