The Pan-African prize for debut authors of published fiction books Etisalat Prize, has started off the 2015 African literary calendar with an award session that took place on Sunday March 15th at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos. This second edition of the prize was won by 30 year- old Songeziwe Mahlangu for his debut fiction , Penumbra. Penumbra tells the story of the life of an underachieving young man suffering from mental illness in post-apartheid South Africa. The dark drama explores psychosis and religious fundamentalism
Mahlangu beat the other shortlisted authors; Fellow South African Nadia Davids and Nigerian Chinelo Okparanta and took home £15000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen retailing for 2000 dollars and a fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Prof Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. In addition, 1000 copies of his book will be bought by Elisalat.
The Etisalat prize, a fairly new Pan-African literary prize is sponsored by the telecommunications company, Etisalat Nigeria and awarded to the best debut fiction by an African writer. The maiden edition took place last year and was won by Caine-Prize winner and Zimbwabwean writer Noviolet Bulawayo with her novel We Need New Names.
Nadia Davids’ An Imperfect Blessing tells a coming of age story about a girl caught between the throes of adolescence and the last but stormy years of apartheid. Chinelo Okparanta’s Happiness Like Water is a collection of stories which the New York Times describes as a powerful blend of heated plot and measured prose.
Mahlangu’s Penumbra , had been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize last year.
‘I thank my publisher and my mother for giving me a platform and believing in him’ said the 30-year old Cape Town resident during the ceremony that was graced by Angelique Kidjo and the Etisalat sponsored Nigerian Idol season 4 winner, Evelle.