A 21-year-old undergraduate of University of Port Harcourt, Izeowayi Victor, has won the first edition of the BBC News Pidgin essay competition titled, “Is Africa’s youth ready for political leadership.”
Izeowayi’s winning piece focused on the paradox of Africa that has 60 per cent of its population from a younger demographic yet produces political leaders who are often 70 and above.
His entry was chosen from amongst 18 other entries submitted by talented young African writers.
BBC News Pidgin noted in a statement that his essay included key factors, which led to his win. They include political apathy, materialism among young people, lack of unity among young people and the absence of proper education.
Izeowayi said he entered the competition because he felt his voice should be heard as a young person in Africa.
He said, “When I first heard about the competition, I took it as a personal challenge. This is the first essay I have written in the language I love. As soon as I got the news, I was speechless and emotional. I am truly grateful to the BBC for this great honour.”
In its first year, the essay competition was introduced to highlight the beauty of the written form of Pidgin language.
Known as a largely spoken language, the essay writing series is aimed at contributing to the development of the written form of Pidgin language amongst young people across the region.
The Head of the Pidgin Service, Adejuwon Soyinka, said the BBC Pidgin Annual Essay Writing Competition is a concept that has not only come to stay, but is poised to further entrench the culture of writing in Pidgin.
The Head Judge, Nkemngong Nkengasong, also added that the competition would show skeptics that Pidgin is a proper language in its own right with grammar rules, which can be tested.
The Head of World Service West Africa Languages, Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye said, “This year’s winner epitomizes the diversity, strength and creativity of the African youth. We hope that this competition continues to be a platform for young people all over the world to start conversations that matter to them.”
The winning essay will be shown on BBC News Pidgin while Izeowayi will be awarded at a ceremony on Monday in Ikeja, Lagos. He would also read out his essay to a specially invited audience.