According to Chair of the judging panel, Bernadine Evaristo, “Bombay’s Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of independence.”
Babatunde’s fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe and America in journals which include Die Aussenseite des Elementes and Fiction on the Web and in anthologies. He is a winner of the Meridian Tragic Love Story Competition organised by the BBC World Service and his plays have been staged and presented by institutions which include the Halcyon Theatre, Chicago and the Institute for Contemporary Arts. He is currently taking part in a collaboratively produced piece at the Royal Court and the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City. Rotimi lives in Ibadan, Nigeria.
The shortlist included:
- Billy Kahora from Kenya for Urban Zoning
- Stanley Kenani from Malawi for Love on Trial
- Melissa Tandiwe Myambo from Zimbabwe for La Salle de Départ
- Constance Myburgh from South Africa for Hunter Emmanuel
Alongside Evaristo on the panel of judges this year included cultural journalist, Maya Jaggi; Zimbabwean poet, songwriter and writer Chirikure Chirikure; associate professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Samantha Pinto; and the Sudanese CNN television correspondent, Nima Elbagir.
As the winner, Babatunde will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a writer-in-residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The award covers all travel and living expenses. He will be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2012. Invitations will be given him for events hosted by the Museum of African Art in New York in November 2012.