Africa's brightest artistic talents have been awarded at the inaugural Boma of Africa Virtual Festival, spearheaded by the African Union Commission and the AfroChampions Initiative.
Among the winners was Kenya's Peter Wambua who was awarded Sh500,000 prize for Literary Excellence, for his captivating literature in prose and poetry that opens up new vistas of African possibility.
Wambua was unaware of the good news, and was pleasantly surprised when Nairobi News reached him for a comment.
"Wah poetry yangu imeshinda. Niko shocked niliandika iyo piece in like 10 minutes. Jana nilijaribu kufollow hiyo awards but sikumalizia. Wacha nicheki coz bado nafeel kama ni prank," Wambua said.
The award was virtually presented to Wambua by Ghanaian Poet based in London, Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
Nigerian national, Vincent Kolo, was the winner of the grand prize of Sh5million.
The winning artwork titled 'The Cords of Yesterday' posed the enlightening question of what binds us to the inner and outer forces restraining our forward march.
Kolo received Nefertiti Grand Prize for African Creativity from former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, patron of AfroChampions, during an online ceremony at the climax of the festival,
Other winners include Sinenkosi Msomi Eswatini who won Sh1.5million in Social Justice. His work draws on themes of social change, justice, inclusion, equity, equality, struggle, and anti-oppression.
In celebration of the first-ever Africa Integration Day, creatives and artists participated in a Creative Challenge to explore and celebrate the journey towards Africa's future, through a wide range of artistic mediums. Works examined themes including unity, science, the future and globalization.
Sponsored by Afreximbank and Commercial International Bank, the Grand Prize was awarded for work that passionately highlights the contemporary quest for Africa to learn from its past, take charge of its present and build its own unique vision of a united, prosperous future.
Bertha Munthali from Malawi was awarded Sh1 million Prize for African Renaissance, sponsored by ADS Group, for a work of art that draws on themes of development, knowledge, innovation, integration, ingenuity and transformation.
"We would like to sincerely congratulate all the winners on their fantastic achievements, and for creating artworks that speak to Africa's unity and future.
"It has been wonderful seeing government and the private sector come together from across the continent for the first Boma of Africa Festival to celebrate integration and the passion and creativity that will bring it to us," said Edem Adzogenu, Chairperson of AfroChampions Executive Committee.
Albert Muchanga, AU's Trade and Industry Commissioner, remarked that the continent has now been bound together on the inaugural Africa Integration Day by one idea.
"Collaborations across all sectors are what will power the united and prosperous Africa we want. We look forward to an even more successful celebration next year," he said.
The awards kick-start the 'Continental Change Through Creative Arts' program, spearheaded by AfroChampions through strategic alliances with AU institutions and other regional bodies and multinationals.
The program will help to re-shape the African narrative and unearth creative talent through an Artists Laureate program, where top shortlisted artists will be posted to major corporations and regional institutions to work closely with marketing and branding departments.
This, the AU said will be geared towards assisting the corporate sector to develop major cross-sectoral artistic projects that blend technology, heritage and creative arts.
It emphasized the goals will be achieved "by using new and traditional media to help young Africans rediscover their authentic storytelling traditions and deepen their emotional bonds with their home continent."
The festival highlighted the new African economic order, following an agreement by the African Heads of State to establish the yearly commemoration during an Assembly of the Africa Union session in 2019.
Partners included the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the United Nations Development Programme, and Speak Up Africa, a Dakar based advocacy and policy tank.