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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
African sci-fi wins competition
Kenyan writer John Rugoiyo Gichuki chose the year 2410 as the setting for his radio play Eternal, Forever and won the BBC's African Playwriting competition for 2006.

Kenyan playwright John Rugoiyo Gichuki
"The BBC made me a playwright"
"I thought I would be the first person to write science fiction for the competition," says Gichuki.

"But it is also the story of a man searching for his family. I wanted to give it that human dimension."

Eternal, Forever is set in the United States of Africa, 400 years from now, when Gichuki would have the continent at the cutting edge of technological advances.

"There is always cyclical development. The British Empire was big. Now America is there.

"Maybe in the next 50 years it's going to be the Chinese.

"Maybe in 100 years it's going to be Africa."

The judge

Competition judge Ola Animashawun of London's Royal Court Theatre had the hard task of choosing the ultimate winners from a shortlist of ten.

"Apart from the craft of the writing itself, I loved the aspirational aspect of the play, set in the future when the continent is leading.

"Everything I was reading about people struggling, about economics, about migration, here, it said 'we can do it'.

Ola Animashawun in his office
Ola thinks radio is good for sci-fi

"The writer has also given the director the freedom to explore and create within the text itself. Radio is one of the best places to do science fiction. "

Chika Maureen Ukaigwe's drama about mob justice, Slayed Dog, took second place.

Ukaigwe, a 22-year-old medical student studying in Benin City, Nigeria, is a first-time prize winner in the competition.

As a young girl, she saw a picture of someone who had been killed by a mob, and the image stayed with her. Ukaigwe paints a vivid world in which mistaken identity and mob rule cause a tragic death.


The rivalry between two West African "giants" is the subject of the joint third prize winner, Once Upon a Time in Lagos by Efo Kodjo Mawugbe.

Two unemployed graduates, a Nigerian and a Ghanaian, act out all their frustrations to hilarious effect.

"There is this rivalry in terms of language, in terms of business and there is a perception that Ghanaians cannot equal Nigerians in terms of literature.

"So I said, let me take the fight back to their own backyard!"

Mawugbe is a playwright and director of culture based in Ghana.


From Sierra Leone, playwright Mohamed Sheriff penned an interesting portrait of a woman betrayed by the man she loves. The Spots of the Leopard won Sheriff shared the third prize.

A well-known proverb predicts that the leopard never changes its spots, but Jamila is blind to this truth until all is finally revealed.

The sensitive issue of marital infidelity through the sexual abuse of a poor female relative is well depicted.

"Of all the plays, this one had a lot of honesty and truth," says Animashawun.

You can listen to the African Performance Season on the BBC on Thursdays at 1600 GMT and on Sundays at 1900 GMT in East and West Africa until May 21.

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