ProjectASHA Announces Winners of the Vweta 2023 Poetry Prize
On July 29, 2023, ProjectASHA Initiative, a local nonprofit, concluded the 2023 Vweta Chawick Poetry Prize. The female only virtual poetry event awarded prizes up to N500,000 in cash to four talented young female poets who lend their voices to tear down the multiple social injustices faced by rural women in Nigeria and globally. Themed "Speaking Through the Void", the 2nd edition of the Vweta Chadwick 2023 Poetry Prize received up to 150 entries from 110 young female wordsmiths across Nigeria. Twelve shortlisted participants made the final list and competed for the total prize money of a whopping N500,000 in cash. Led by Mr. Joseph Waribugo, National Volunteer and Project Coordinator of ProjectASHA, the poetry event was graced by well-wishers, supporters, and human rights enthusiasts from various backgrounds.
The annual poetry event organized in honour of the late Vweta Chadwick, Human rights champion, and founder ProjectASHA NGO, aims to spotlight the voices and provide a platform for girls and women alike to tell their authentic stories, express themselves, and champion causes dear to them.
Serving as judges at the event were seasoned poetry professionals such as Mrs Aida Correa- Jackson, Mr David Olajide and Ms Iquo DianaAbasi(both 2nd-time judges), and Ms Islamiyat Bakare, aka Kemistree, who judged based on Originality, Pitch, Dramatic Appeal, and performance and encouraged participants to take ownership of their poems as they performed. Each poet and their piece were record-worthy, making the judges decisions even tougher.
After the heated competition of sheer words, brutal truths, and dishing out harsh realities, Miss Favour Orlando emerged as the winner of this year's contest for her poem "Who can serve them their dreams on a Platter?" The first and second runners were Miss Anita Nwokoji and Miss Favour Davies for their poems "The Dark Void" and "Her Essence," respectively, all in the senior category, while Miss Francis Zenom who sadly is deceased on July 1, 2023, emerged the winner in the Junior category for her poem "ECHOES". The entire team ASHA extends their heartfelt condolences to the family and awarded prizes pot-humous to her family.
Read the shortlisted poems below
Ms Iquo DianaAbasi encouraged the young women to continually push and continue on this journey, as the sky is only their starting point. In a remark, Ms Bolafunmi Adedayo, Activity Coordinator for ProjectASHA said: "The essence of a contest like this is to show you your strengths and areas to improve, and having the audacity to submit and recite today shows that you are all winners ".
With final words from the Chairman of Project ASHA, Mr Steven Robinson, who reiterated the role of poetry in bolstering the confidence of girls and women, to galvanize voices to speak up about topics considered shameful, seek help, and reveal hidden injustices women experience.
As a local NGO with a global focus, ProjectASHA is firmly focused on empowering the voices of rural girls and women in marginalized communities. Through its diverse advocacy driven programs and projects, ProjectASHA continues to garnish conversations about women's rights, digital literacy and inclusion, equality, equity, and justice as front burners in the nation’s discourses.
ProjectASHA’s work and milestones are strongly driven by people who take action to bring about real change in the world. To support ProjectASHA in any of the above advocacy areas, please visit www.projectasha.org.
Just like the late Ms. Vweta Chadwick, you have a role to play. Vweta Chadwick’s legacy lives on.