Local writers will excel if… ― Ibrahim, NLNG literature prize winner

Abubakar Ibrahim, winner 2016, NLNG Prize for Literature on Friday said that for local writers to excel in the country and beyond, they need publishing houses.

Ibrahim authored the novel entitled: “Season of Crimson Blossoms,” which won the 2016 NLNG Prize for Literature.

Ibrahim spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja at the on-going Francophone Festival, organised by the Institut Francais du Nigeria in collaboration with Abuja Literally Association (ALA).

”It will be fantastic and wonderful if we have our work widely distributed, but we need publishing houses to publish these books.

”Even if we have our books translated into English or French and you now have the publishing house to publish them, it is not enough.

”We have a huge challenge to get our works published in Nigeria and finding the market too, not to mention bridging the borders.

”There are fundamental issues that need to be address first, before talking of doing translation across borders,” he said.

He added that, another challenge faced by writers was not having their works being translated to foreign languages and that has increased the literacy gap in Africa.

”Languages are like walls and the more you do not know how to speak the next person’s language the higher the wall between you and such person.

”It is a wall that needs to come down one way or the other, that is why we need the translation programmes or initiatives because it is important.

”The few francophone writers that I can mention, Adama Bangue , Vironi Taju. I know these people because their works have been translated into English and they are fantastic writers and they write good stories.

”Even though we are surrounded by French speaking countries, Niger ,Togo and Cameroun, most Nigerians do not know anything about French,” he said.

He further urged government and private bodies to help in appreciating the works of these writers for the gap to be bridged adding that it was unacceptable for good writers and their works to be ignored.

Ibrahim is the author of the short story collection, “The Whispering Trees,’’ which was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

He also won the African Writers Residency Award as well as the BBC African Performance Prize.

He is a Gabriel Gracia Marquez Fellow amongst others.