Here’s a news feature in today’s issue of Leadership:
Sheme, Maje and Balaraba at the award ceremony at the International Conference Centre, Abuja
Engineer Mohamed Bashir Karaye Prize in Hausa Literature
Sheme, Balaraba and Maje emerge winners
From ASHAFA MURNAI BARKIYA, Abuja
Three writers emerged yesterday as winners of the maiden edition of Engineer Mohamed Bashir Karaye Prize in Hausa Literature. The investiture of the prize took place at an impressive ceremony organised by the Abuja chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Editor of LEADERSHIP, Ibrahim Sheme, took the first prize with his novel, ‘Yartsana, while Hajiya Balaraba Ramat Yakubu and Maje El-Hajeej Hotoro came second and third with their novels, Matar Uba Jaraba and Kankana respectively.
The prize was endowed by the widow of the late Mohammed Bashir Karaye, a former commissioner in Kano State and an ardent lover of the arts. The widow, Mrs Bilkisu A. Bashir, who is the Executive Secretary of National Judicial Service Commission, Abuja, was inspired by a desire to immortalise her husband’s memory.
The Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi; a former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais and a former minister and ambassador, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher were some of the dignitaries that graced the occasion that took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
A university don, Prof. Anthony Chukwuemeka Oha, delivered the keynote address in which he traced the history of written literature in Africa and showed how literary competitions helped develop creative writing in Hausa. He lauded the Karaye family for supporting the cause of literature in the country.
Similarly, chairman of the panel that judged the books, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, highlighted milestones in the history of Hausa creative writing competitions from 1933 to date, showing how such milestones affected the direction and quality of the books produced. Commenting particularly on the current contest, he told the audience that the judges’ panel had used a simple method in assessing the 19 entries for the awards, with a focus on cultural impact of the entries, themes, plot, style, etc. He was confident that the three winning entries were adjudged the best out of the lot.
The winners were given certificates and cash prizes of N150,000, N100,000, and N50,000 respectively – an innovation in Hausa literary competitions. They were invited to tell the audience who they were and what motivated them to go into writing. They said they were motivated by the desire to enlighten the public and influence the society for positive change.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Professor Hagher noted that the Hausa language had attained a position of acceptability that could easily make it the lingua franca of Africa. He also pointed out that the language had increasingly transformed itself to go with the times.
Justice Kutigi stated that the Hausa language contained ingredients of African cultural activities and had grown tremendously within the last three decades. He praised the organisers of the competition for a job well done.
Engineer Karaye was remembered by one of his bosom friends, Gen. Lawal Ja’afaru Isa, a former governor of Kaduna State, who recalled their days together with the deceased in secondary school and after. He said Karaye was a very humble and hard working friend of his, saying they had related with one another up till the time of his death. Isa was represented at the occasion by his wife Hajiya Zainab.
Karaye died on October 25 last year, and yesterday was the first anniversary of his death.
The sponsor of the prizes, Hajiya Bilkisu, had told reporters in her office weeks back that she was willing to fund the writing competition every year. And the chairman of the Abuja chapter of ANA, Dr. Emman Usman Shehu, revealed that the competition would be interchanged between the genres of prose, poetry and drama every year, hinting that next year’s contest would be waged among Hausa poets.
The audience was entertained by a troupe from the Abuja Arts Council, who performed a Fulani dance.