Chiziterem Chijioke wins N1m Quramo Writers’ Prize 2023

The Quramo Festival of Words, (QFest2023) came to a close with the unveiling of the winner of the Quramo Writers’ Prize 2023. The prize, which is awarded to the author of an unpublished fiction manuscript, comes with a N1m cash prize and a book publishing contract with Quramo Publishing.

The five-day virtual and live literary and artistic excursion which ran from Wednesday, October 4 – Sunday, October 8, 2023 featured master classes, book chats, panel discussions and exciting poetry performances.

From left: Mrs. Aduke Gomez; Segun Aribisala; second place Poetry Slam winner, Saheed Sunday; Convener, Quramo Festival of Words; winner, Afolabi Olayinka-Bello (Bespoke) and Quramo Festival Director, Lolade Alaka after the event

The winner was picked by a panel of judges made up of Mrs Lechi Eke, Mr Anote Ajeluorou and Dr Eghosa Imasuen as head judge. 

The announcement was made after a citation of the top five entries were read out to those present and those watching virtually.

The third place went to Mujahid Ameen Lilo for “Landscape of Loss,”

The second place went to Truth Bakare for “Summer Blooms”

The first prize was taken by Chiziterem Chijioke for her entry “Dear Zini.” 

According to the judges, the winning manuscript offers a poignant journey through the life of Zimife, navigating contemporary challenges in Lagos, Nigeria. Its immersive first-person perspective captures the complexities of relationships, family dynamics, and the search for identity.

“Summer Blooms,” on the other hand, presents a promising coming-of-age story, alternating between the perspectives of triplets Hyacinth, Hydrangea and Hibiscus. The distinct voices of each sister and well-developed characters promise a rich and immersive reading experience.

While “Landscape of Loss” delves deep into the life of Leila, delivering a gripping narrative of love, loss, resilience and self-discovery in a distinctive Nigerian setting. The manuscript’s use of regional dialect and cultural references adds authenticity to the story.

Distinguished guests and literary enthusiasts from around the world gathered at the seventh annual Quramo Festival of Words, for a grand celebration of literature, culture and creativity. 

According to the Convener of the fiesta, Mrs Gbemi Shasore, “The theme for this year’s Quramo Festival

of Words, ‘Connecting the Dots’, has guided our journey throughout this

festival, emphasising the importance of building bridges within our nation,

across our continent and beyond.

In a world that can often feel divided, it is our connection, shared stories

and mutual understanding that bring us closer together. 

“The theme was our way of underscoring the importance of fostering connections within

Nigeria and across Africa. Information travels at the speed of light, and so,

It is crucial that we initiate and strengthen communication, travel and distribution networks within our country and continent. Only through

these connections can our products truly shine on their own merit”.

This year’s festival showcased a diverse programme that included 10 creative workshops, six panel discussions, four book chats, two film screenings, a highly invigorating Irish Siamsa, a stage play, a Q Conversation, Word Slam contest, raffle draws, and the highly anticipated unveiling of the Quramo Writers’ Prize winner. 

Over 30 sessions led by renowned experts delved into topics ranging from fintech and culinary exports to African art history, intellectual rights, entertainment and artificial intelligence. These diverse discussions provided valuable insights and sparked meaningful conversations.

QFEST 2023 featured masterclasses led by experts like Femi Odugbemi, Jude Idada, Morenike Olusanya, and Adedotun Eyinade, who covered various creative skills, including scriptwriting, songwriting, visual arts, book-to-screen adaptation, grant writing, and more.

From illuminating workshops to an enthralling film showcase, the first day had it all. Anwuli Ojogwu’s Self-Editing workshop, Morenike Olusanya’s Stories in Visuals class, and Ms. Linda Bembatoum’s Grant Writing Class were just a few of the knowledge-packed sessions that captivated the audience. Attendees relished the opportunity to interact one-on-one with industry experts and fellow creatives.

But the highlight of the day was the open film screening session, expertly hosted by Ms. Oyinkan of Quramo Productions. This cinematic journey took viewers on an emotional rollercoaster, with films spanning various themes and genres.

The lineup included:

Kiriji War by Durotimi Akinkugbe: An animated historical film that transported the audience back to the Yorubaland of 1877-1893.

Ewa by Mark Eyesan and Team: A heartwarming animated story about self-acceptance and the love for beans.

Burkina Babes by Kagho Idebhor and Team: A celebration of the strength of African women, challenging stereotypes.

Born Different by Ann Sarafina: A touching exploration of a woman’s journey with Neurofibromatosis, showcasing the power of resilience and friendship.

Certainly Sir by Ms. 10PP: A satirical take on the rise of Artificial Intelligence.

Sad Cartoon by Daniel “S.A.D” Alaka: A feel-good animated film reminiscent of childhood struggles.

Etido by Oladele Bello: A thought-provoking film about the circle of life, framed against the backdrop of protests.

Babushka: An animated film shedding light on insecurity and mental illness.

Looking for Maya by Regal: A poignant conversation between a daughter and her late mother, exploring the power of forgiveness.

Tomati by Esther Kemi Gbadamosi and Animation Nigeria: A stop-motion film emphasising the importance of positive thinking and hard work.

Friendship and Loneliness by Chukwufumnanya Ochei: A relatable story of work fatigue among the working class.

The Broken Mask by Kagho Idebor: A powerful narrative of sexual abuse, combining spirituality and cultural elements.

The second day was as exciting as the first featuring the Avoid the Block session by Ms Oyinkan of Bodyworks, which was an amazing class. There was room for attendees to connect with their souls by placing their hands on their chests and meditating. 

The Content Creation class by Alawode Abisola of Zikoko was quite interactive and engaging and attendees left with tangible knowledge and techniques to help them improve the quality of content shared via their social media handles. 

The Bestseller to Blockbuster – Book-to-screen adaptation class by Femi Odugbemi where he broke down the concepts and gave practical examples that gave some insight into the art of filmmaking.

The Show Me the Money class by James Murua from Kenya was a blast and the feedback from the attendees was that it was worth their while and time.

The Scriptwriting – Adapting Book to Stage and Screen by Jude Idada practically exceeded the allotted time because of the need to share knowledge and stories.

The Quramo Festival of Words aims to celebrate and explore literature’s role as a tool for societal development and a broad field of creativity. The festival’s theme for 2023, “Connecting the Dots,” emphasised the importance of building bridges within Nigeria, across the African continent, and beyond. It highlighted the significance of fostering connections and communication in a world that can often feel divided.

One of the festival’s key highlights was the presence of distinguished guests, including Bode Abifarin, Olumide Soyombo, Chef Imoteda, James Murua, Blessing Abeng, Fu’ad Lawal, Yahaya Maikori, Bankole Olayebi, Ambassador Peter Ryan of Ireland to Nigeria, and Marc Brebant of Alliance Francaise Lagos. The festival also welcomed Kemi Ogunleye and Chigul for the highly anticipated Chrystallis Conversation.

The festival also showcased the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), the Crown Troupe of Africa, KJohn Films Uganda, and other luminaries who shared their experiences, enriching attendees’ understanding of the literary arts and culture.

The grand finale of QFEST 2023 marked a moment of immense joy and gratitude as attendees gathered to honour and celebrate the literary and cultural landscape. The festival welcomed Sarah Boulos, founder/CEO of SPAN, who shared her wisdom and inspiring life story in a Q Conversation anchored by Mrs Shasore. 

As the curtains closed on QFEST 2023, attendees carried with them knowledge, inspiration and connections forged during this incredible literary journey. The festival emphasised the importance of connecting the dots within the literary and cultural landscapes and within our hearts and minds. The message of building a brighter future where the power of words and ideas knows no bounds resonated with all who attended, leaving them inspired and ready to continue their literary adventures.

The success of QFEST2023 was made possible through the tireless efforts of the festival planning committee, sponsors, partners and the dedicated management and staff of Quramo. Their unwavering commitment to nurturing the literary arts and culture was commended and appreciated.

As QFEST2023 concluded, attendees departed with a shared sense of inspiration, knowledge, and joy, carrying with them the belief that words and ideas have the power to create a brighter future. The grand finale was a testament to the festival’s dedication to literary excellence and cultural connections.

Indeed, Mrs Sasore said that “As we bid farewell to QFEST2023, let us carry with us the knowledge,

inspiration and connections we have forged during this incredible journey.

Let us continue to connect the dots, not only within our literary and

cultural landscapes but also within our hearts and minds. Together, we can

build a brighter future where the power of words and ideas knows no

bounds. May this festival be a source of inspiration, knowledge and joy for

all who have attended”.


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