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African Performance 2008
 
Meet the winners for 2008
 

The four Africa Performance prizewinners
Winners (from l to r) Benjamin Kent, Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi, Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni, and Risenga Mkondo
 

Meet the 2008 winners

 

Risenga Makondo, South Africa

I immediately felt, yes, this play is number one.
Shimmer Chinodya, judge
 
First place went to "Dear Mr Lampard" by South African writer Risenga Makondo. It tells the moving story of a young Zimbabwean boy who writes letter after letter to Chelsea star, Frank Lampard.

Risenga, who comes from Venda in the north east of South Africa, is himself a Chelsea fan.

He told the BBC that he was inspired by how football brings people together. "A teacher, a doctor, a churchman and a thief can all sit and watch football and will all jump up at the same time. Football is a place where everyone is equal."

Asked why he chose Dear Mr Lampard to win, Judge Shimmer Chinodya told the BBC:

"The characters are very engaging, they are very touching. The play read very well and came across as a very credible story - the back drop of this play is very contemporary.

"You have Zimbabwe in the throes of economic problems with young people looking to South Africa and looking to Britain for salvation. I immediately felt, yes, this play is number one."

Fortune, the young hero of Dear Mr Lampard, ends up undertaking the dangerous journey across the Limpopo River to South Africa in an attempt to fulfil his dreams of meeting his idol, Frank Lampard.

Listen to Meet the winner (23 mins)

Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni, Zimbabwe

In second place was "A Home for Tai" by Zimbabwean Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni.

The play highlights the the pressure women feel to produce children, and the lengths people will go to to concieve.

It features a young woman fighting to keep her husband and family as she struggles to fall pregnant.

Infertility was a subject tackled by many entrants to this year's play writing competition, suggesting that this is a devastating issue for many couples around the continent.

Benjamin Kent, Ghana

Joint third place went to "Funeral Bells" by Benjamin Kent from Ghana which takes a wry look at the central role funerals play in African society.

Benjamin is a student filmmaker, and has also examined Ghanian attitudes through film. You can watch his short documentary "Close Strangers" at blackpublicmedia.org. (The BBC is not responsible for external sites.)

Shimmer Chinodya
Mirirai Moyo

Mirirai Moyo, Zimbabwe

Judge Shimmer Chinodya awarded the other Special Commendation to "Belonging" by Zimbabwean Mirirai Moyo.

He said of "Belonging" that it was probably the most original and inventive of all the plays he read.

The play explores issues of identity and asks whether it possible for us to transcend the limitations of our culture, class, ethnicity - or species.

Mirirai and Geri
• In 2006, the BBC asked Africans to described one thing they could not live without - Mirirai described "Geri", her laptop.

The heroine of the play is a bright young chicken, and her soulmate is, believe it or not, a hyena.

Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi, Nigeria

"Dangerous Voyage" by Olusanya Kolawole Oluwaseyi shared third place. It tells the tale of four West Africans who risk their lives in a fishing boat hoping to start a new life in the Canary Islands.

Olusanya entered "Dangerous Voyage" in last year's competition. He won a special nomination. Last year's judge, Olusola Oyeleye, suggested he reworked the play and re-enter it.

Jide Afolayan, Nigera

The Proposition
• Jide won third prize in 2007 with "The Proposition", in which sexually harassed students defeat lecherous lecturers
Listen to "The Proposition"
The first special commendation went to "Power Failure" by Nigerian university lecturer Jide Afolayan.

"Power Failure" sees a citizen of Lagos so frustrated by power outages and fuel scarcities that he chucks in his job and moves to the village.

The play addresses real problems which listeners all over Africa will empathise with as well as exploiting the comic potential of its subject matter to the full.
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