4th March, 2022
By Nehru Odeh
Obari Gomba, Professor of English at the University of Port Harcourt and currently fellow at the University of Oxford, has won the 2022 Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) poetry prize.
He won the prize, worth $2,000, with his collection of poems, The Lilt Of The Rebel.
Gomba was announced as the winner after beating other five shortlisted Nigerians in a virtual ceremony on 3 March 2022.
The shortlisted poets included Echezonachukwu Nduka (Chrysanthemum For Wide Eyed Ghosts), Tanure Ojaide (A Poetic Diary Of The Coronavirus Epidemic) Servio Gbadamosi (Where The Light Enters You), and Olumide Olaniyan (Akimbo In Limbo).
As the blurb of the award-winning book reads, Lilt Of The Rebel is a rich collection of 108 poems on diverse human issues. Gomba’s poetry is bold, candid and unafraid of controversy. In poem after poem, his aesthetics is surefooted of a poet who has earned his place as one of the best across generations.”
However, the fact that male poets dominated the shortlist for the English-speaking poets made the lead judge, Maureen Isaacson decry the absence of female poets on the continent, particularly in Nigeria. She then tasked female poets on the continent to up their ante.
Meanwhile, Abdul Monem Ramadan (Egypt) with his collection, Lover and Mohamed Naquib Mohamed Ali (Sudan) with his collection, The Cell Of The Wings emerged joint winners In the Arabic category that had Ashraf Aboul-Yazid (Egypt) and Fatima Bouhraka (Morocco) as judges,. Other contenders were Miftah Al–Amari (People Of The Wind) and Nosaiba Atta Allah (Hosted by Godo).
While Sékou Chérif Haidara (Guinea) with his collection, Cahier de vertiges emerged the winner in the French category that had Dr. Alain Serge Agnessan (Ivory Coast), Eric Bekale (Gabon), and Ketline Adodo (Togo) as judges. . Other contenders were Ernest Koffiga Kavege (‘Demain, La Plenitude’), Danielle Gonai (Mosaique), , Fatoumata Keita (Ce n’est jamais fini), Abdoulaye Seck (Délices de l’âme et coeur), and Kossi Sena Adufu (Des profondeurs de la vie).
Bashiru Abdallah with his collection, Wino Was Dhahabu won in the Kiswahili category that had Dr. Hamisi Babusa (Kenya) and Esther Karin Mngodo (Tanzania) as judges,’’ Other contenders in Swahili included Ali Mohammed (Kilio Cha Sisimizi), Djibril Adamu (Kipeto Cha Risala), and Rashid Othman Ali (Mapinduzi Ya Kalamu).