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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Prostitution play wins BBC prize
Many African girls are lured into prostitution in Italy

Nigerian student Bode Asiyanbiyi has won the 2005 BBC African Performance playwriting competition.

His play, Beguiled, tackles the dangers of the prostitution ring which runs between Nigeria and Italy.

The 2nd prize was won by Audu Yusuf Joe, also from Nigeria, for Waiting for Baba, which tells the tale of two African pensioners.

In 3rd place, comes The Commodity by Bertha Owuor from Kenya. It exposes the greed of a village man who is plotting to marry off his eldest daughter to recover money spent on educating her.

This year's competition received more than 500 entries.

Moral fabric

Usifu Jalloh is a playwright, actor, dancer and musician, from Sierra Leone. He had the task to pick out the best from the rest.

Raiki Ayola and Medina Ajikawo
Raiki and Medina starred in the winning play
"And the winning play is Beguiled, he declared: "It's a very powerful piece on a very important and current subject, which is handled with great care and frankness."

When the BBC's Jenny Horrocks telephoned Bode to tell him he'd won, he was in his school library studying for an exam the next day.

"You are joking. Oh my God. I am completely overwhelmed," said a stunned Bode.

He described prostitution as a cankerworm that is eating away at the moral fabric of Nigerian society, adding that he based his play on a true story.

It was Bode's third time of entering the annual BBC competition. He had entered twice before and received encouraging letters from the producers in London.

Bode plans to buy a laptop computer with his 1,000 ($1,870) prize.

Unpaid pensions

The plight of two African pensioners is the theme for the 2nd placed play in the season.

Usifu Jalloh
"Beguiled was a very powerful piece".

Waiting for Baba by Audu Yusuf Joe highlights the dilemma of irregular or unpaid pensions in Africa.

"It's a light comedy with a sharp insight into the dark and pathetic lives of our old age pensioners" says judge Usifu Jalloh.

The 3rd placed play The Commodity by Bertha Owuor from Kenya was the first to be broadcast.

In this play a village man plots how he can gain financially from marrying off his eldest daughter.

With the help of his friend, he decides on a dowry price and goes in search of a likely suitor.

Meanwhile, the daughter is away at college and knows nothing about her father's plans.

The man is left reeling in anger and bitterness as the daughter chooses to not only pursue her education but also to become a nun.

Tragic news

Efforts to contact Bertha to tell her the good news about her play proved unsuccessful until two weeks after her play was recorded at Bush House.

BBC producer Solomon Mugera kept trying her mobile number until one day her brother Calisto answered, with the tragic news that Bertha passed away.

She was found dead in her Nairobi house a month earlier.

Calisto told us that Bertha, 34, loved writing, and was a frequent contributor to among other things, the Daily Nation newspaper column, The Watchman.

She had been a teacher, spoke fluent French and Spanish, had a brown belt in the marshal art of Taekwondo, and loved mountain climbing.

Calisto expressed his happiness that Bertha's play had done so well, adding that he and the entire family will be tuning in to the BBC to listen.

Baby rape

The final play of the season confronts the subject of baby rape in South Africa, and is an adaptation of a stage play by award-winning South African playwright Lara Foot-Newton.

Tshepang was inspired by the true story of baby Tshepang which hit the headlines in South Africa in 2001.

Tshepang was raped at the age of nine months, and afterwards it transpired thousands of baby rapes are reported in South Africa every year.

The play was produced and recorded on location in Johannesburg.

'My life as a child prostitute'
04 Mar 04 |  Africa



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