Fifth-time lucky, Obari Gomba wins $100k Nigerian Prize for Literature 2023 sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Plc.
Try, try, and try five times, and you could win resounded on Friday, 13 October 2023. Playwright, poet, and teacher Dr Obari Gomba finally won the Nigerian Prize for Literature.
His winning work, Grit, epitomised his journey to the title. Gomba has pursued the NLNG Nigerian Prize for Literature with several entries since 2013. He was on either the longlist or shortlist five times before GRIT clinched the prize.
In 2013, the judges long listed Gomba for his work Length of Eyes. In 2017, For Every Homeland made the list. The judges listed Guerrilla Post in 2018 and The Lilt of The Rebel in 2022.
Gomba said of his winning work. “Grit can be defined in two ways. In one way, you look at grit as courage. In another way, you look at grit as bits of a thing after a thing has been broken into bits. That is what happens in the play. There is the courage to speak truth to power. And there is also the exercises of power in a manner that breaks people.”
The Alesa-Eleme-born scholar studied English at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and obtained master’s and PhD degrees in the discipline at the University of Port Harcourt.
Gomba is 46 years old. He teaches Literature and Creative Writing at the Department of English Studies, University of Port Harcourt.
He said of the Nigerian Prize for Literature: “The significance of the prize is bigger than the statement of a jury. It is the biggest reward in literature in our country and on our continent and is something to be proud of. We should all be proud that we have the biggest literary prize on the continent.”
Speaking to NLNG The Magazine ahead of winning, Gomba canvassed rewards for the two runners-up of the Nigerian Prize.
His runners-up were Henry Akubuiro’s Yamtarawala and The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu.
Renowned poet and polemicist Odia Ofeimun is the publisher of GRIT.