The 2010 Nigeria Prize for Literature, an annual prize sponsored by NLNG to “reward the authors of the best current writing” , has been awarded to Esiaba Irobi. The prize, which was initiated in 2004 and rotates amongst four literary genres—prose fiction, poetry, drama & children’s literature, comes with $50,000. Esiaba, an academic, dramatist, and poet got the prize for his play, ‘Cemetery Road’. ‘Cemetery Road’ emerged the winning play ahead of Ahmed Yerima’s ‘Little Drops…’ and Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo’s ‘The Killing Swamps’. Describing the play, one of the judges of the competition, Dapo Adelugba said ‘Cemetery Road’ is about “living, loving, and dying for the things we hold dear.”
Born in Eastern Nigeria in 1960, Esiaba was knowledgeable in theatre, literature and cinema. An alumnus of the Universities of Nigeria, Nsukka, Sheffield and Leeds, this child of independence as he was fondly called, was a director of stage productions amongst other things. Asides ‘Cemetery Road’, which won the World Drama Trust Award for playwriting in 1992, other published plays by this man of letters include Hangmen Also Die, The Colour of Rusting Gold, Nwokedi, Why the Vultures Head is Naked, What Song do Mosquitoes Sing?. He was until his death, a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Freie University, Berlin, Germany.