A new crop of writers has been unleashed into the literary and creative world after the 11th edition of the Purple Hibiscus Trust workshop recently came to an end.

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It was a magical evening buzzing with excitement and anticipation from the perfectly mixed crowd featuring the young and urbane and the slightly older but distinguished guests.

The Oriental Hotel located in Victoria Island was the glitzy venue chosen to present the 22 ‘graduates’ with certificates to cap their eventful 10-day sojourn.

After a pleasant cocktail session that saw Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie affectionately taking photos with some of her die-hard fans, it was straight to the business of the day.

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Media personalities, Ozzy Agu and Oreka Godis, were unveiled as hosts of the evening and gave a brief rundown of the writing workshop, which was originally called the Farafina Trust.

Sam Onyemelukwe, managing director of Trace Nigeria, — headline sponsors of the workshop– spoke on the unique partnership between the Purple Hibiscus Trust and Trace.

He said the media company identified closely with the ideals of Adichie which involved driving conversations and creating content around gender balance especially in the African context.

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Past participants of the workshop including Keside Anosike and Jite Efemuaye were invited to speak on their experiences and opportunities that had opened up for them.

Chika Jones, a 2016 alumni of the workshop gave two hard-hitting spoken word performances titled ‘Blood Under Your Feet’ and ‘Is this Why We have Nightmares’, one of which detailed the brutal rape and murder of Obiamaka Orakwue, a teenage girl, in a Lagos suburb in 2017.

After the rousing performance, Adichie and Onyemelukwe presented certificates to each of the participants of the 2018 workshop.

Adichie had something unique to tell of each of the 22 young men and women who trooped to the stage to collect their certificates.

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She expressed profound appreciation for being given the opportunity to pass on greatness to the participants together with her co-facilitators, adding that the experience was a learning curve for her.

“I am very excited and very happy in particular because it feels like a milestone having done this workshop for the past 10 years and having seen… people become supporters of one another and encouraging one another,” she said.

“It is such a wonderful form of validation and it means so much to me to know that this workshop has done that for people… and I feel very grateful for the workshop for educating me. I have learned very much.”

After the presentation, seven of the newest alumni gave a special presentation which featured a “mashup” made from excerpts of various writings done during the course of the workshop.

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To add to the richness of the event, an almost ethereal and other-wordly performance was given by Falana, a Nigerian Canadian singer-songwriter who held the audience spellbound with songs like ‘Repeat’, ‘Ride or Die’ and ‘Favourite Things’.

Facilitators of the workshop– Lola Shoneyin, a poet; Dave Eggers, an American novelist; Eghosa Imasuen, a writer and publisher and Adichie, sat on a panel and reminisced on highpoints of the workshop.

Wana Udobang, a media personality recited the hugely popular poem, Catfish and unveiled Nigerian rapper, Phyno, as a surprise act to round off the evening, much to the delight of Adichie and her beloved guests who danced the night away.

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