Some students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) have won creative writing prizes in various categories ranging from poetry, short story and essay, endowed by different organisations to promote scholarship and reading culture among students.
The students won the awards at Reading Café, a gathering of literary minds jointly organised by the English Department students of Unilag and FinishedWork, a book editing firm.
In the categories, Timothy Akintola, from the English Department of the University, won The Niche Prize for poetry with his Poetry, We Shall Still Die, while another student of the Department, Oso Oluwaseyi, clinched the other two prizes.
Oluwaseyi gave a good account of himself in the Essay category to win In the name of Our Father Novel Prize, just as his short story, “Hate at First Sight”, won him the Wale Arikawe Prize for Short Story.
Chief Executive Officer of FinishedWork and Convener of Reading Café, Lechi Eke, who presented a paper on the elements of fiction and how it could be effectively deployed to achieve a good story, said the event was all about literature and aimed to throw attention to people who love writing, to teach them the techniques of writing.
“The target audiences are people who love reading and writing and people who are already writing but don’t know what they are doing wrong because they are not getting published. “The inspiration behind this is that I love reading and writing. You keep hearing that if you want to hide anything from an African, put it inside a book they will not discover it. That needs to change.
“Apart from broadening your vocabulary, reading and writing make you a cultured person. Cultured people are not scientists; they are the arts’ people. With that, you can know different eras, what was happening in Charles Dickens 18th century. “Look at the time Chinua Achebe set Things Fall Apart in the early 20th century, when the white people came into Africa. Literature teaches you how people lived,” she said.
A Senior Lecturer in the English Department, Dr. Nurayn Alimi, commended the quality of the entries in all the categories. He said it depicts the intellectual enterprise of the students.
Head of English Department of the University, Professor Tunde Opeibi, said the aim of the Reading Café was to enable students to draw inspiration from meeting the experts in the field of creative writing.
“The importance is to encourage young people to also develop talent. It takes a lot of refection, a lot of imagination and a lot of thinking-through to be able to put something together.
“We are trying to develop that talent in you. We are trying to see how you can learn from what we call best practices, those who have gone ahead. That is why we are bringing together those who are established in that field so that you can learn from them,” he said.