We want to thank everyone who participated in the five writing contests. Through the contests, we met gifted and aspiring writers from many countries with whom we will stay in touch. We look forward to holding more writing contests in the future, including one which will begin in the months leading up to LittWorld 2022.
You can find all of the winning entries in the list on the left.
Of all of the thoughtful, creative, and well-written submissions, we are excited to announce that Ivanova Nono Fotso of Cameroon has been selected as the grand-prize winner for the English submissions for her poem, “My Heart is a Battlefield.” You can read the full news release here.
Below is Ivanova’s poem.
My Heart Is a Battlefield
By Ivanova Nono Fotso
Cameroon: 25 million inhabitants, 280 tribes, over 250 native languages.
What you hear is the power of numbers
And the musicality of our languages.
What is muted are the taunts at dialects,
Like mine that sounds funny.
My accent and surname are Shibboleths
That can deprive me of my rights.
What you see is the uniformity of one race
Right from the cradle where they are all so cute.
What is hidden from your eyes are the shades of black,
Which the ears of newborns already betray,
And that measure our beauty,
From the ugliest to the fairest.
What you cheer is the diversity of our national team
And the freedom of speech of our political parties.
What is at stake behind the scenes
Is my safety in the neighborhood,
When the flat-footed player is my namesake
And the failed candidate, my fellow tribesman.
No, my country is not at war;
The real battle is fought in my heart:
Love against hatred, love against fear.
Fear blows: “Flee away! This place is not safe.”
Hatred strikes: “Hate them back! Stab them with your words. “
O Lord! Come and help me!
I don’t want to hate my brother,
I don’t want to fear my neighbor,
I don’t want to despise myself,
But I no longer have the strength to love.
I come to learn from you.
I want to reflect your love.
You knew the feelings expressed, and the resentments hidden.
You saw the times when hate won, and actions taken.
Yet you loved us with a love that led you to the cross.
Love is not blind;
It sees offenses, and offers forgiveness.
Love is not weak;
It swims against the tide of impulsive reactions,
To bring healing to the broken heart.
If I can help my neighbor,
Without asking which tribe he is from;
If I can rejoice and mourn with my compatriot,
Not dwelling on the harm we have done to ourselves,
If I can lift up for my fellow men a sincere prayer of blessing
And not that of retribution,
Then good will have overcome evil.
Love will have won the battle.
At least in my heart.
Ivanova Nono Fotso is a children’s author and scriptwriter. Her work has been published by PJA – Publications pour la Jeunesse Africaine, in the form of comics and illustrated books. She has led workshops on scriptwriting at conferences including MAI-Africa’s LittAfrica 2019 conference in Ghana. She lives in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Writing prompts for each contest deadline:
July 31: Write a short parable with the theme of hope.
August 31: What Scripture passage has gained special meaning for you during the global pandemic, and why.
September 30: Write a psalm or poem that expresses to God your pain over injustice, racism, violence, poverty or some other challenge in your country and your cry for His intervention.
October 31: Whom in the Bible (other than Jesus) would you like to meet for dinner, and what would you talk about? You may choose to create a script if you like.
November 30: “When I see how Christians act, I don’t want to become one,” someone says. Write a letter in response.