The Lumina Foundation's Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa

This website has been restored and archived as required reading for Diana Crouch's course: International Literature in the Age of the Internet. Ms. Crouch is a true renaissance woman with a strong background in creative writing, IT development, and a law degree. She came to the university from a Louisiana maritime law firm where she represented injured workers. She implemented their website and provided most of the local tech support. Her novel, The Compliant Strains of Dormant Code was on the Pacific's best seller list for several months and has been reviewed and cited for its insights into the current high tech culture of Silicon Valley, and she regularly consults on topics ranging from big data to Kubernetes. She spent 3 years in Nigeria teaching creative writing at the American School in Lagos. Students can download the full reading list for her course from the Lit Dept website (use the ZenDesk app).



The Crossings

“There are different kinds of artists and very often, I'll be very frank with you, I wish I were a different kind. ”
- Wole Soyinka

About the Prize

The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa was established by The Lumina Foundation in 2005. It was conceived as a very prestigious prize in honour of Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in literature to celebrate excellence in all its cerebral grace, its liberating qualities, the honour and recognition it brings to a myriad of people, of diverse cultures and languages. This prize honours people who have used their talents well enough to affect others positively. It honours Africa’s great writers and causes their works to be appreciated. It celebrates excellent writing, promotes scholarship and makes books available and affordable by subsidizing the publication of books in the top list of the judges.
This is a pan African prize, viewed also as Africa’s NOBEL prize. It unifies Africans, celebrates Africa’s great minds, brings home Africa’s best intellectuals as judges, entertainers, great communicators and leaders in their own rights. 
It was designed to be The African prize with a lot of artistic features symbolising the Soyinka personae, as a distinguished intellectual, a conscientious and sensitive writer, a lover of the arts and humanities and a stickler for excellence, good governance, equity and justice.

Peculiar features attached to the prize ceremony:

The peculiar features of the Soyinka prize award is the festival attached to it. The following events will feature in the festival: 
The Soyinka Prize award ceremony will commence with The Soyinka Festival which celebrates African writers and their works. It is a three day festival of arts comprising:
i Book exhibitions by African publishers who are duly registered for the event. 
Ii Book fair and Book carnival
iii Theatrical performances (Drama, poetry recitation, book carnival, etc).
iv Lectures
v Book readings/Audience interaction with authors
vi School children, reading clubs
vii Art exhibitions etc.

Prize money/Prize status:

The Prize money is $20,000. (Twenty thousand US Dollars) 
The prize is awarded every other year. The maiden edition of this prize took place on August 5th, 2006 at the Muson Centre, Lagos.

The Prize Symbol

The matchet clears the wild, wild bush
The matchet weeds for planting to commence-
Should the rain fall in the season of anomy
The matchet grooms the land for seeds to grow, for our embrace in the wind
For the talking drums to call out our names in times of plenty, of harmony
If the harmattan lingers for long
And dust blocks the ears of demigods
If Ogun summons his own, the matchet goes to war
The matchet on which Kongi's words ride
The matchet may glisten
But until it speaks through the bleeding tongue of the pen
Shall its power be manifest!
Tell me, of what use is the blade
If the ink does not flow
To right the wrongs of history…
–Ogochukwu Promise


Aims of the Prize

Among other goals the Lumina Foundation intends to achieve through the institution of this award are as follows:

To propagate the dynamics of self enhancement.

To celebrate excellence, patriotism, integrity, heroism, intellectualism and selfless service epitomized by the man, Wole Soyinka.

To generate excellent books (both in content and packaging) authored by Africans.

To foster global harmony through the provision of opportunities for appreciation of cross cultural perspectives.

In order to enter for this prize, Publishers should obtain the entry   from The Lumina website, fill it in triplicate. Submit two copies with six copies of the books and include  their  email address and phone numbers.



The Prize Rules


Any excellently written book by an African in any genre may qualify for this award.

The book to be submitted must have been published within two years preceding the year of the prize being sought for but not during the year of the prize being sought for.  

Nine copies of each eligible book should be submitted by the Publisher. Books can only be submitted by Publishers.

Only published works are eligible and can only be submitted in its published form.

For a book to be eligible, it must be written either in English or French.

The publisher must not submit more than three titles. This could be from either the same author or different authors.

The Publisher may submit either paperback or hard cover along with author's photo and resume.

Only African authors living in any part of the world are eligible for this prize. By African authors, we mean authors from African countries. We are adopting for the purpose of this prize, the geographical description of African countries and their boundaries. In other words, only citizens of African countries are considered eligible for this prize.

Books published anywhere in the world may qualify for this award provided that they are written by Africans.

Books that have won other awards are not eligible for this prize.

Books that have been short listed for other awards may be submitted for this prize.

The Foundation will begin to receive entries from August preceding the year of the next award. All entries must be received at The Lumina secretariat, before October 24, 2009. 

The short listed books will be reproduced by The Lumina Foundation  to make them more affordable and available.

  • Long list of entries to be released on April 1, 2010
  • Short list of entries to be announced on April 15, 2010
  • WS award night to take place on April 30, 2010.
  • All entries should be sent to The Lumina Foundation, No 3 St. Finbarrs College Road, (second Floor) Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria.  

All general enquiries should be addressed to:
The Lumina Foundation
Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa
P.O. Box: 3165, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos. 


Diary of the Writer

Dear Diary,
I walked out on my Publisher this morning. He wasted so much of my time talking about how busy he was with all the solicited manuscripts on his table which he will soon publish as educational books. In spite of the fact that my manuscript has been with him for four years, he kept moaning over the risk he would take to publish my work. Poetry he said, is one thing that gives publishers like him nightmares because it is difficult to sell. I got the message and left. The pain of rejection is hard to bear, but I know I will get by. I believe I have the kind of patience that is elastic. I know I will never stop writing. I will never give up –though the temptation is there and can be overwhelming at times.

This week, I wrote two lovely poems. I feel a lot better. I attended ANA (Association of Nigerian Authors) meeting today. I felt at home among these graceful writers. Looking at them as they brim with hope, I was inspired by their zeal, their courage in spite of all the problems they face. It lifted my spirit.

Ndidi Adinnu


Diary of the Publisher

Dear Diary, 
let me share with you the problems and problems of Publishing in my country Nigeria:

Poor Economy: One of the major problems facing the book publishing in Nigeria is the economic depression in the country which has adversely affected every productive sector of the economy. This problem is so severe that it brought along with it other problems such as; the devaluation of the Naira, high foreign exchange rate, low income, low purchasing power, etc, which are all disadvantageous to book publishing.

Inadequacy of publishing facilities:  The publishing industry in Nigeria has battled with the crippling inadequacy of locally produced raw materials. Paper which is the most important raw material for publishing and which constitutes about 60% of production cost is hard to come by. Out of the three paper mills in the country, only Iwopu and Oku-Ibokun mills are capable of producing book quality paper. Jebba paper mill is designed to produce light industrial paper, including boards of different grammages. Iwopu paper mill which was designed to produce woodfree paper in order to supply book production requirements has consistently suffered under-capacity utilization and is shut down for most part of each year with the result that there is still no reliable local supply of long-fibre pulp or the bleaching agent necessary to make white paper. As for Oku Iboku which is meant to produce newsprint, basically for local use and also for export to other countries, it has remained a mirage.

Other printing facilities like printing ink, lithographic plate and photographic film are not being produced in Nigeria. This means that they have to be purchased with high foreign exchange. It is only binding adhesives that is currently produced in Nigeria from imported ingredients

Printing Infrastructures: In the face of rising expenses and reduced budgets, the emphasis of many publishers in the metropolitan countries has been on the adoption of technology that is cost-effective and time-saving. However, in Nigeria, where publishing budgets are even more restricted, this option hardly exists. New technologies in the book industry are very expensive. The importation of sophisticated machines cost a lot, this makes the overall printing cost of a book very high.

The Reading Culture: Nigerians have been identified by many scholars as people who do not have a healthy and encouraging reading culture. They tend to read mainly for utilitarian purposes. Because they hardly read for leisure, they hardly buy books except recommended textbooks. Most of the time, they merely photocopy. And this does not encourage publishing.

Illiteracy: Illiteracy is still prevalent in Africa. Book publishing can hardly thrive in a predominantly illiterate society.

Poverty: The buying power of majority of Nigerians, even for very vital commodities of life and living, is very low. This is due to their low income and the economic recession in the country.

Misplaced priority: Unfortunately most of the high income earners or the wealthy in the society prefer to live flamboyantly to buying and reading books even though they might be aware that reading is likely to improve their minds more than a wardrobe of colours and a garage of exotic cars. Our society prefers sensation to knowledge acquisition. It is an orientation that needs to be redressed.

Low Turnover: When few people buy books, the turnover will be quite low and slow.

Short Print-runs: The Publisher only has to look at the poor returns he has made from the sales of his books to know that he cannot indulge in large print-runs.

High Production cost: The production cost of a book involves the entire expenses incurred in the course of producing the book. If one has to import nearly every material for publishing, the production cost of each book will definitely be high. Some expenses however remain constant (fixed) irrespective of the quality of the books produced. This is why it is cheaper to have large print-runs to maximize the benefits of the fixed expenditure.

Dear Diary, you must be tired by now, aren’t you? Well I need to catch my breath too. It’s pretty hot in here.
 – Oracle books LTD


Diary of the Bookseller


Dear Diary,
All I can tell you at the moment is that it is easier for a camel to enter through the needle eye than to sell books in Nigeria. Do you want to know why? Let’s meet here again soon.
– Roller Bookshop