Yinka Olatunbosun reports on the glamorous grand finale of the Quramo Writers’ Prize 2018, where Michael Emmanuel emerged winner
Truth be told, the moment Michael Emmanuel started reading aloud some excerpts from his manuscript, Running Waters, it dawned on us that he was a likely winner. He was an effortless and conversational writer, not trying to impress us with too much information.
But with wit, he sowed the seed of suspense into a carefully woven plot. He had four other contestants to beat and they were just meeting for the first time that night at the award ceremony organised by Quramo Publishing at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
In her opening remarks, the Executive Publisher, QuramoPublishing, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore gave an insight into why the prize was instituted. For one, the prize gives voices tounpublished writers. Secondly, it promotes quality content in indigenous literature. In addition, it “disrupts’’ the unhealthy pattern of literature market in Nigeria which is saturated with books from foreign writers.
For the Head of Judges, Mrs. Aduke Gomez, it was an arduous task to decide on the winner, with the quality of writing received.
“This year, there were over 400 entries. None of us had really slept well for weeks. We argued. We fought. We have abused and lobbied one another. Until we got here today, we didn’t know the winner. It’s a wonderful experience,’’ she remarked.
Beyond the prize, Quramo Publishing had developed and executed a series of literary projects such as “Project Read’’ which involves providing reading materials for the less privileged in IDP camps. The publishing firm is also in the business of cross-fertilising literary ideas for other artistic expressions such as films.
Afterwards, the seasoned author and public relations professional, Toni Kan, reviewed the published winning work from the previous edition of Quramo Prize, Samuel Monye’sGive Us Each Day.
Crown Troupe of Africa thrilled the audience to a dramatic interpretation of Give Us Each Day after the creative entrepreneur, Ugoma Adegoke presented the second runner-up certificate to Achalugo Ezekobe for Boys on Jumping Trousers. Also, the award-winning writer, Sefi Atta presented a certificateto the first runner up, Ani Obiamaka Splendour for The Girl who saw Tomorrow.
After the rapturous moment of declaring the winner, Emmanuel was spotted on the red carpet outside the venue where he recounted his journey into winning the coveted prize of N1m and the offer of a publishing contract with QuramoPublishing.
He was writing tests and also preparing for his exams when the deadline for submitting manuscript was approaching. He had to write 10,000 words. He spoke on the plot briefly.
“The story is about a girl who suffered a memory loss and it was only a sentence-something about someone killing her mother that triggered her curiosity. The plot is about unraveling her life story.
“With this N1 million, I will definitely invest in writing. I will attend writing seminars and workshops,’’ said the 300-level undergraduate of Chemistry.