Students of the University of Ibadan have won the top prizes at the national literary competition for the deaf and hard of hearing students in Nigerian tertiary institutions, organised by Luminous Deaf Scholastic Initiative (LUDESI) in commemoration of the international day of sign languages.
Aanuoluwapo Omoleye, a Final year student of the Department of Special Education, University of Ibadan, emerged the “Deaf Literary ICON 2020” with the overall best performance while Aanuoluwapo Ogunrinu, a 300 level Mathematics student of the Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo with affiliation to the University of Ibadan won the award for the Best Essay.
Godwin Daniel, a 200 Level Computer Science student at the University of Ibadan won the award of Best Poetry Writing, while Douglas Ozoigboanugo won the award for the Best Sign Language delivery.
The Deaf Literary ICON was rewarded with a trophy and cash prize of N10,000, while the three medalists received a cash prize of N10,000 alongside medals of excellence.
The competition, which was held in two stages for students from universities and colleges across the country, is believed to be the first-ever literary competition organised for tertiary institution students with hearing impairment.
The first stage was a virtual contest where participants gathered on a social media platform while the second was a physical competition where the top 10 outstanding contestants battled for the top spots.
The contestants participated in three different tasks: essay writing, poetry, and speech delivery in sign language.
The theme for the first stage was centered on the COVID-19 pandemic while the second stage was centered on sign languages for all — the theme for this year’s international day of sign languages.
Bernice Oyeleke, founder of LUDESI and convener of the competition said, the success of the competition means so much to “the entire Deaf community and the nation at large”.
Oyeleke, said “she conceived the vision far back in 2018 but was unable to actualize it,” but with passion, she made it happen in 2020 — with support from many quarters.
“With a lot of fear in my heart, I began the project. It was really tough garnering support for the competition. I had to rely on my social contacts to make the program a success. I am very grateful to the many volunteers that assisted me on the project,” she said.
She called on interested organisations and individuals to support the project, and make it an annual event that could continue to serve as a safe space for these special students to hone their literary skills.
Omoleye, who won the top prize, said she was indeed very grateful for the opportunity.
She said many literary and public speaking events are organised for students of tertiary institutions, which exclude the brilliant deaf students with literary passion.
She added that NLCD2020 came to her rescue and offered her the platform she has been yearning for, and she got to express her literary talent.
The judges who scored the contestants — Gabriel Soje, Oluwole Oluwatobi, Maliq Rasaq, Samson Oyeleke, and Cyprian Oraetoka — are specialists in essay writing, poetry, and sign language presentation.