#JayLitSpotlightSeries: Mustapha Enesi Ibrahim

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Mustapha Enesi Ibrahim is an outstanding writer who delves into themes of grief, sexuality, and acceptance, often woven within complex familial and communal relationships in his short stories.

With a background in Agriculture, Mustapha has veered off his science course to become grounded in the art world. Mustapha’s journey is marked by significant literary achievements and community contributions.

His background in literature and public speaking dates as far back as 2018 when he won the Professor J.K Joseph Word Combat and participated in the All-Nigerian University Debating Championship at Covenant University. He won his first-ever literary award organized by Muslimpoems in the same year.

He was the co-chief adjudicator at the Emirate Verbal Combat 3.0 of the British Parliamentary Debate Championship, public speaking finalist at the University of Calabar’s Master’s Round V, and 3rd best adjudicator at the University of Ilorin’s Word War III, all in 2019.

In 2020, Mustapha saw his international break as a public speaker and avid adjudicator, in the British Parliamentary Debate scene within Africa, as the 9th-best adjudicator of the Pan-African University Debating Championship in Uganda and the best speaker at the University of Cape Coast and Unilorin Alliance Debate Tournament. Then he co-founded The Story Tree Community with two of his friends, Uchechi Princewill and Raheem Omeiza. The Story Tree Community is an intensive writing platform where young writers from different Nigerian states, come together to embrace one another with the love of commonality and unity that writing offers. With everyone reading and leaving helpful feedback on one another’s writing through creative writing challenges and prompts, participants were able to refine and improve their crafts. The birth of the community led to the first anthology Mustapha Enesi’s writing appeared in, The Story Tree Challenge Maiden Anthology.

In 2021, he was the Deputy Co-Chief Adjudicator at the Expose 3.0 at the University of Ilorin and the Emirate Verbal Combat 4.0, the British Parliamentary Debate. Mustapha achieved all these and more while a student at the University of Ilorin. After emerging first runner-up in the Unilorin SU Writing Prize in 2021, and shortly after graduating, he was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize and the Arthur Flowers Prize for Flash Fiction. Then he emerged winner of the 2021 K&L Prize for African Literature, and the 2021 Awele Creative Trust Award, and was the Theme Winner, in the Aster Lit Fall Issue Writing Contest. Mustapha Enesi has been described as a “bright young star” in the Nigerian literary scene.

Little surprise he graduated top of his class.

He is undeniably a leading master in the art of short story writing, and he has many publications and awards for it.

Mustapha’s works have been featured in notable literary magazines like Harvard University’s Transition Magazine for his short story, “Safety Pins Are Good Omens” which won the 2021 Awele Creative Trust Award, The Republic, Isele Magazine, Milkcandy Review, The Maine Review, The Kalahari Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Bridport Prize Anthology, and many more.

In 2022, he won a spot in the Best Small Fiction Anthology and was longlisted for the Kendeka Prize for African Literature. He was also nominated for Best of the Net by the Milk Candy Review in 2022. His flash fiction piece “Shoes” was published in the 2022 Best Small Fictions, after being highly commended in Litro Magazine’s Summer Flash Fiction Contest in 2021.

After three attempts at submitting for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, he was finally longlisted in 2023 as he was also longlisted for Isele Nonfiction Prize in 2023. He was also a judge for the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize in 2023. He was the Young Writers Award joint winner & highly commended in the 2023 Bridport Short Story Prize.

He was nominated for the AKO Caine Prize twice in 2023 by the Transition Magazine and the Peatsmoke Journal.

He has worked as a junior editor for The Republic (Nigeria), and a reader for Agbowó (Nigeria) and Litro Magazine (UK and the USA). Despite his flourishing literary career, Mustapha also excels in his professional life, currently working with a leading fintech startup in Africa, his ability to balance multiple roles shows his excellent work ethics and dedication.

Kudos to Mustapha for being such an inspiration to young and aspiring writers. We wish him more wins ahead!

Connect with Mustapha on X (FKA Twitter) and Instagram.

Tobi Ojenike

Tobi Ojenike

Tobi Ojenike is a freelance writer from Lagos, Nigeria. She enjoys long walks, strawberry milkshakes, and reading Danielle Steele and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whom she hopes to meet someday. She is currently working on republishing her maiden book, On Edge. Tobi is available on X and Instagram at the handle @tobiojenike. Tobi‘s website is: http://www.tobiojenike.com.