Elnathan John presented with 2019 Prix Les Afriques Award

Top Stories

The 4th Edition of Prix Les Afriques (Africa Literary Book Prize Award) created by La Cene Littéraire in 2016 was won by Elnathan John, with the French translation of his novel Born on a Tuesday. The novel is the debut of the highly promising young Nigerian lawyer and writer.

The award ceremony took place recently in Geneva, Switzerland, and was attended by a cross section of Africans and non-Africans in Switzerland and also from the neighbouring countries.

The organisation, La Cene Littéraire, founded by Mrs. Flore Agnès NDA ZOAMEILTZ, a Senegalese,  in 2015 with the objectives, among other things, to promote African  and people of African descent writers whose works focus on African issues such as human, societal, ideological, political, cultural, economic, historical and African diaspora.

It was announced on 21 June 2019 that the novel won the 4th edition of the award. The novel is a story about a young Nigerian boy struggling to find his place in a society that is splitting along religious and political lines. The book as reviewed by GoodRead is about : ‘Dantala, a boy whose name translates as Born on a Tuesday. He lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut novel of John explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.’

The award carries a Prize tag of US$5,000 cash, a painting worth US$ 3,000 and the organiser is to purchase 100 copies of the novel. In Elnathan John’s case additional 100 copies of the novel were ordered before the award ceremony took place. 

Past winners of the award are: Kei Miller (2018), Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin (2017) and Hemley Boum (2016).

La Cene Littéraire, in addition to Literature prize, provides residency in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for creative writers, where they can stay for a duration ranging from two to five months.

The six members of the Jury of Prix Les Afriques recognized at the event are: Ambroise KOM (President), Théo ANANISSOH, Ken BUGUL, Boubacar Boris DIOP, Koulsy LAMKO and Hortense SIME.

Also recognized are the committee members of the organisation who are: DIAGANA Cheikhna Aliou, HALLER Florence Colinette, HERVÉ Françoise, KEUTCHAKEU TCHATCHO Carole Milly, MABIALA Alain Tito, MBARGA Gabriel, MIKOLO Nicole, MINLIBÉ Grace, MOUSSAVOU KOUMBA Cédric, NDA ZOA Flore Agnès, NGOULOU Chrystelle, SNOECKX SCHMIDT Sophie.

Musical entertainment was provided at interval throughout the ceremony that ended with wining and dining, while John was autographing copies of the book.

See Photo gallery (Photos  8 and 9 by La Cene Littéraire)