The African Speculative Fiction Society has postponed announcing the winners of the 2020 Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans due to the recent violence in Nigeria. The awards were scheduled to be presented October 22 at The Ake Arts & Book Festival held annually in that country, and even though the event has been taken online this year due to the pandemic, the organizers felt it would be inappropriate to proceed with the normal opening ceremonies where the awards are given.
Geoff Ryman relayed the decision on the ASFS Facebook group page:
The world has stood back in horror (or at least it should have done) at recent events in Nigeria. Out of respect for the people who’ve died, and to revise the Festival so that it deals with pressing issues, there will be no opening ceremony this evening at the Ake Festival, and thus no announcement of the winners of the 2020 Nommo awards. Some events dealing with the pressing issues will go ahead. Please check the Ake Festival website. This must have been a huge decision for the organisers, especially given all the thought and work that went into making Ake a Covid-aware online event. Thoughts to Lola Shoneyin and her staff. More news about when and where the Ake winners will be announced to follow
Taking the place of the Festival’s opening ceremonies are panel discussions such as this one:
A New York Times op-ed says the Nigerian protests began earlier this month in response to a video of police brutality:
On Oct. 3, a video surfaced online that appeared to show the point-blank killing of a Nigerian citizen by officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly known as SARS. In the days since the video’s emergence, people across the country, young and some old, have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and call for SARS’s disbandment.
Demonstrations have continued since then, with many deaths. Yesterday’s AP News’s story told about a pair of confrontations that added to the count: “Nigerian forces killed 12 peaceful protesters, Amnesty says”.
Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday that Nigeria’s security forces fired upon two large gatherings of peaceful protesters Tuesday night, killing 12 people calling for an end to police brutality.
At least 56 people have died during two weeks of widespread demonstrations against police violence, including 38 on Tuesday, the group said. The Nigerian government did not immediately comment about Amnesty International’s allegations.
The #EndSARS protests began amid calls for Nigeria’s government to close the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, but has become a much wider demand for better governance in Nigeria.
Despite the growing violence, the Nigerian protesters defied a curfew and faced off with security forces Wednesday as gunfire rang out and fires burned in Lagos, a day after shots were fired into a crowd of demonstrators singing the country’s national anthem.
The security forces opened fire without warning on the protesters Tuesday night at the Lekki toll plaza, Amnesty said in its report, citing eyewitnesses, video footage and hospital reports.
… President Muhammadu Buhari — who has said little about the protests engulfing his country — did not mention the Lekki shootings in a statement Wednesday but issued a call for calm and vowed police reforms.
Buhari’s statement said the dissolution of the SARS unit “is the first step in a set of reform policies that will deliver a police system accountable to the Nigerian people.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that the right of Nigerians “to protest peacefully needs to be guaranteed.”
He said “police brutality needs to stop, and those responsible for acts of such dramatic violence are made accountable.”
The Ake Arts & Book Festival is tweeting comments from writers and musicians about the crisis — several dozen messages can be read at the link.