Last Wednesday I attended the 2009 Orange Prize Awards Ceremony, at the Royal Festival Hall of the SouthBank Center, London. I was dressed in my buba and sokoto, with a Hausa cap to go with it… I went confident that the ceremony would be better off with some ‘native’ colour :-)
At the end of the day I realised that the ceremony had a lot to learn from Nigerian awards dinners (the NLNG Prize Dinner for example)… about the virtues of starting late (African Time), choking the programme with speeches and musical/dance performances and last but not the least, providing proper food.
The awards ceremony itself was over in 25 minutes. In Nigeria, 25 minutes wouldn’t be enough to read the detailed biographies of all the special guests and keynote speakers and other VIPs, as they are welcomed to the High Table.
Marilynne Robinson took home the $30,000 prize, for her novel, Home. She’s previously won the Pulitzer, with her second novel (Gilead, 2004), which came 24 years after her debut.
Bernardine Evaristo won the Youth Panel Award, for her brilliant novel, Blonde Roots, which I recently reviewed for the Harvard Africa Policy Journal (Volume 5) (see Editor’s Remarks here)
The day after the Orange Dinner I catch a Eurostar train to Brussels, from where I make my way to the small Belgian town of Turnhout, where I am holidaying for a little over a week. I write now from Turnhout… a few hours ago I was at a housewarming party where a live Gypsy band played, and I danced the cold away…
There are plans to visit Eindhoven (Netherlands), and a yet-to-be-determined German city in the week ahead…