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Boosting The Creative Instincts Of Young Nigerians With Prize Awards



Founder, Teecoks Literary Initiative and final year medical student undergraduate, Ms Towunmi Coker handing the cash prize and certificate to the winner; representative of prize donor, Mrs. Iyabode Obafemi; the prize-winner doubling over with joy, Ms Chidinma Eme Ejike and event moderator, Mr. Dayo Olakulehin… in Lagos

To foster reading and writing habit among students and encourage healthy literary skill acquisition, Teecoks Literary Initiative once again gathered students from different private, public and missionary schools in Lagos State to participate in its yearly creative writing competition.

With over 500 entries received from 52 schools, Chidinma Eme Ejike, an SS2 student of Anglican Comprehensive High School, Ipaja, emerged first prize-winner among other six winners.

According to the founder of the competition Towunmi Coker, who said she was inspired after winning a writing competition as a secondary school student in 2007, noted that the idea is to promote writing culture among students.

The medical students of University of Lagos said, “I began the competition to encourage secondary students because that was how I developed my skills. I have met people who say they used to write before but stopped because they do not have any push to carry on. So, I decided to impact on as many young people as possible”.

Teecoks Literary Initiative, which usually awards 10 prizes, could only manage six this year, as the entries were not good enough to justify more than six prize awards. Ms. Coker noted that the judges complained of the lack of creativity in the writings.

She noted, “There were also cases where you have two handwritings in one entry. Ideally, the school should know that it is an act of examination malpractice to assist students in a competition. While we try to encourage students to read and write, we also ensure they follow due process.

Some others got it mixed up between creative writing and essay by writing about corruption, education; those were not things we wanted. We wanted original and creative works”.

Ms Chidinmma Eme Ejike who won the grand prize of an I-pad, and N100,000 cash prize could not hide her joy, as she cried up to the stage to collect her prize. For her entry, she wrote the story of her life, how she sees herself in the future and what she wants her future to be.

“I have always wanted to be the best in my educational pursuit. In the story I wrote, I talked about the writing competition and how I won the prize but I never knew that this would come to reality”.

Guest speaker and author Mr. Ayo Sogunro who spoke to the students on creative writing said, “A lot of people tend to think of writing as a talent that some people have and others don’t have, but then it is a skill you learn.

These children need to know that some people are not just born writers; you can be a storyteller but then you need to know how to communicate the story efficiently in a way people will understand.

“A writer, first of all, must be a good reader, and learn how to start expressing the self. Of course, at the beginning, it is may not be rosy because there are rules to writing and so a good writer is one who not only knows the rules but knows it so well to ignore them when necessary, which helps you produce writing in your own original way.

“Writing is not a defined profession. You can be a doctor, a scientist, a governor and still write. It is simply a communication tool and the better you are at it, the more people want to hear what you have to say, the more you are able to express your ideas.

So, it is not just about having the knowledge of your profession, but conveying it in a way other people will be interested in listening or reading.”

Sogunro noted that the way literature is taught in schools merely allow students to pass exams rather than stimulates skills, adding, “But luckily, events like this helps to push the need to stimulate literary skills”.

Interestingly, donor of the first prize chose to remain anonymous. Coker said she needs support for the continuity of the prize so as to reach as many bright students interested in creative writing as possible.

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