The worlds of music and books converge at the Etisalat Prize for Literature grand finale ceremony scheduled for Saturday 19 March at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria. The event, which is the last episode of the 2016 edition of the prize, features Nigerian singers Asa and Darey.
Both singers are following the example of the Grammy-winning Beninoise artist Angelique Kidjo, who last year performed new and old material including 1994’s Agolo to the excitement of the audience gathered in Lagos.
The combination of music and literature has for nearly a half-decade been a prominent part of the Etisalat culture contribution to host country Nigeria. In the three years of the existence of the prize, the telecoms company has invited a diverse number of musical artists to perform before an audience of writers, academics and culture journalists from around the continent.
The performing musicians have been diverse as the winners of the prize, which so far has been won by two debut novelists from different countries. The Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo and South Africa’s Songeziwe Mahlangu. This edition sees two South African nominees Penny Busetto and Rehana Rousouw and one Congolese Fiston Mwanza Mujila.
For performers, besides Kidjo, Senegalese artist Youssou N’Dour has graced the Etisalat Prize for Literature stage; as has Nigeria’s Ruby Gyang. Both artists performed a version of the former’s 1994 hit ‘7 Seconds’ at the 2014 event.
“I was ten years when I first heard that song,” Ms Gyang said after the performance. “Almost twenty years later, I’m standing beside him on stage singing it. I was ecstatic. It was a dream I never even dared to have, that came true.”
Unlike the N’Dour-Gyang partnership, the Darey-Asa partnership is a musically familiar one. Both singers recorded the ballad ‘Inside of You,’ a track from Darey’s 2015 album Naked.