Goge Africa, foremost African tourism and culture promoter, has rewarded winners of its 20th anniversary contest.
The contest, which was tagged ‘Goge Africa 20th Anniversary Contest’, saw many creative youths expressing their creative ingenuity in two categories of art and writing.
The grand finale of the contest, which was organised as part of the activities marking Goge Africa’s 20th Anniversary held at Goge Africa’s office in Maryland, Lagos, and was graced by winners of the contest, media and other guests.
The two overall winners in the art and writing contests were presented with cheques of $1, 000 each, while the top three winners in the two categories will benefit from: a contract with Goge Africa; sponsored travel opportunity with Goge Africa; exhibition opportunity (for the top five winners); publication opportunity on the Goge Africa coffee table photo book (for the winner and 1st runner-up); appearance on Goge Africa TV show; VIP tickets to Ge Africa 20th anniversary dinner and award night; and certification of participation.
Goge Africa also assured the winners that all the benefits accruing to them would be actualised in the course of the year and as the unfolding environment allows due to COVID-19.
Israel Padonu, the overall winner in the art category, said he was fascinated by the topic of the contest hence the motivation to participate in it.
Padonu, who hails from Badagry, Lagos State, and also a Fine Art graduate from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, expressed his delight and appreciation to Goge Africa for the event.
He said he was overwhelmed and humbled as the overall winner, saying that the platform has added value to his career as an artist.
‘‘This is the first major platform that gave me a lot of hope to show that my efforts were not in vain. This is a platform to promote my work”, he said.
For Chioma Nnana, the overall winner in the writing category noted that the winning is a big boost to her writing career. Nnana, who works in a corporate communication outfit, disclosed that though she had passion for writing, but had not written for a while before putting in for the competition, which advertisement she saw on Instagram.
‘‘I feel great and it is a validation of my work,’’ she said.
Other winners present at the event include: Ajenifuja Adetokunboh (1st runner-up), Fine Art graduate from the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos; Grace Olabisi (2nd runner-up), a lawyer and amateur writer; and Mokwenye Ehis Ndudi (5th runner-up), a Chemical Engineering graduate from the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State; Nzennaya Barry Ikechukwu, 3rd runner-up writing; Odinakachi Okoroafor, 4th runner-up; and Onyibor Collins Uchenna, 1st runner-up writing.
Speaking at the event, Isaac Moses, chief executive officer, Goge Africa, expressed delight at being able to finally host the event. According to him, the event was met to hold last year but put on hold as a result of COVID -19 and that the event has to be tempered and low keyed.
For Nneka Isaac –Moses, managing director of the company, it was a fulfillment of a dream and commitment that the grand finale of the competition, which commenced in 2019 held despite the challenges faced in hosting it. Aside the issue of COVID – 19, she disclosed that all the sponsors pulled out of the event, failing to meet their commitments.
However, she said that Goge Africa had to solely fund the event and the prizes for the finalists, saying that it was necessary to do so in order to protect the image and integrity of the company.
The idea behind the contest, she said, was to develop and promote African art and culture, as the theme of the art and writing competitions was ‘Our Culture and Heritage’. ‘‘The contest is geared at showcasing young, and enthusiastic creative talents around Africa, promoting and exposing them to opportunities through the platform of Goge Africa’’, she said.
Besides, Isaac Moses added that it was also to discover new talents, nurture and promote, as well as, expose them and inspire the youths to cherish and promote African art and culture.
She further disclosed that the contest generated widespread interest beyond their imagination, with entries received from across Africa, as entries received for the short story were 1, 438 while entries received for the art category were 1, 062. Judges for the contests were mainly drawn from across Africa, while all the winners were Nigerians. This, she said, was an interesting development, as it shows how talented and motivated Nigerian youths are.
‘‘The entries were all enthralling. We had a tough time selecting the finalists. But at the end of a contest, a winner must emerge. We really wish we could award all.
‘‘Our joy stems from the smiles on the faces of the participants, the bolster that this contest has given them to chase their creative pursuits further, and the fact that some of these creatives, predominantly the writers, are looking at expanding these stories for publishing.
‘‘As a brand, we are enthusiastic that through our platform, there is a new vista of hope that new African creatives that would tell the original African narratives have emerged.’’
To this end, she said that the event would not be a one off but rather a bi-annual event.