by Seyi Lawal
Last week, the Nigeria LNG Limited hosted the public presentation of the winner of the 2011 Nigeria Prize for Literature – Adeleke Adeyemi, who goes by the pen name Mai Nasara.
The event held at the Nigeria Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) and guests included the panel of judges which is chaired by Prof Emeritus Ayo Banjo, the managing director of the company Babs Omotowa, its general manager for external relations Siene Alwell-Brown and literary giants Prof. Wole Soyinka and Gabriel Okara.
The event kicked off with opening remarks by the managing director – who thanked the panel of judges for their diligent work in screening over a hundred books for the prize and gave a brief over view of the corporate social responsibility initiatives of the company and its focus on the development of human potential in Nigeria through support for the Sciences and the Arts through the Nigeria Prize for Science and the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
“Development and a strong economy cannot be built without science and technology,” Mr. Omotowa said. “The company has strived to encourage Nigerian scientists to step up to the task of discovering things that will move the nation forward. In the same vein, the prize for literature strives to improve reading culture, broaden horizons, enrich the knowledge of the Nigerian people and to indigenous writers.”
The man of the moment was called on stage and formally introduced to the public – after which he presented prepared remarks. Titled “Meet me at the library”, Mai Nasara spoke about his numerous literary influences from Shakespeare to Achebe, and tipped his hat to how these have moulded his writing. He also thanked to the panel of judges that found his book worthy of the award, as well as the Nigeria LNG for its consistent support. “There is an urgent need to revamp our reading culture,” he said. “Especially for young ones – and that is why I am calling out to them to meet me at the library.”
He was joined on stage by former winner of the Nigerian Prize for Literature Dr. Gabirel Okara and Prof. Wole Soyinka who endorsed his book. The event was broadcast live on television as well as online on www.nlnglive.com and a recording of the event will be hosted on the site.