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Stand Together Essay and Artwork Competition: Here are our winners!


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together – African proverb

“We must find an African solution to our problems and this can only be found in African unity,” Kwame Nkurumah, a Ghanaian politician, political theorist, and revolutionary., once said. This idea was the driving force behind our Stand Together Essay and Artwork Competition that ran in 2021.

Each of the entries we received are testimony to the many creative young minds that make up the African continent and give hope for a brighter future. The competition entries illustrated how young people are in touch with the issues that affect their lives, and how they are able to articulate them in creative and captivating ways. Join us as we celebrate the winners of the Stand Together Essay and Artwork Competition.

About the Stand Together Essay and Artwork Competition

The Stand Together Essay and Artwork competition was commissioned by ONE in Africa in July 2021. This competition called upon young people across Africa to submit an essay or a piece of artwork explaining how Africa can stand together in overcoming the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, we received over 600 essays and 118 artwork entries. Today, we have our winners. 

The Essay Category

The essay competition brought together writers from across Africa to share what they think standing together to end the COVID-19 pandemic means to them. We received 656 unique essays showcasing creative suggestions and illustrations of solidarity written by participants aged 13 and above. The criteria used to evaluate the essays were based on uniqueness and originality, critical ideas of the topic, and the creativity of the solutions presented.  This is what made Njabeh Ritah Bonwi’s essay stand out. 

Njabeh Ritah Bonwi, a 25-year-old Cameroonian student at the University of Development Studies in Ghana, is this year’s winner of the Stand Together Essay competition. Her essay titled “How Africa can stand together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” used an engaging analogy of how six blind men described an elephant as they touched it. As each man touched and described what they felt, their perceptions illustrated the ingredients that are needed to successfully build a strong force that will see Africa overcome the pandemic. These ingredients include unity, responsible governance, taking advantage of hidden opportunities, remaining steadfast despite challenges, ensuring the continent stays “intriguing” in the pandemic, and eliminating stereotypes in Africa. 

Of the 600 entries were received and there were a number of excellent essays. The top five were: 

  1. 1st place: Njabeh Ritah Bonwi, Ghana (Winner)
  2. 2nd place: Catherine Kantono from Uganda
  3. 3rd place: Agbugui Amanosi Felicia, Nigeria              
  4. 4th place: Ayowole Olotupa, Nigeria                           
  5. 5th: Place Happiness, Tanzania                                   

Congratulations to all! 

The Artwork Category

The competition brought together artists across the continent who illustrated through painting, what standing together in solidarity means to them. A total of 118 artworks were received from across Africa. Of those, 10 finalists were selected and brought to a public vote where we asked our audiences to vote for their favorite piece of work.  Felistus Chama’s art piece was the winner!

Felistus is a female artist from Zambia whose artwork, “2020,” won the competition. According to Felistus, her work was inspired by the journey we have all taken to win the fight against the pandemic, and how it has affected our interactions. The painting presents a woman wearing a newspaper and the articles in the artwork represent the bits and pieces of information and news about the pandemic from around the world, while the different hand gestures throughout the piece signify social distancing.

The hand at the bottom of the painting represents the call on rich countries to help Africa overcome the pandemic. At the centre of the painting, there are two hands holding a heart, which represents the care for humanity that has been felt across Africa. At the top right of the painting is a dove, which symbolizes the hope that even as we continue to experience this pandemic, our hope is near and a new dawn is here.

Of the top 5 artworks, these are the runners-up:

2nd place: Adzimah Gracious Eleagbe, Ghana

3rd place: Phemelo Machoko, Botswana

4th place: Bakare Olamide, Nigeria

5th place: Dada Abiodun Mayowa, Nigeria

Both of our winners will receive a laptop or iPad (based on their choice), ONE merchandise, and a virtual meet-up with one of the artists featured in our “Stand Together” anthem of solidarity. Additionally, the school or educational institution of the award winners will be acknowledged and will each be gifted an iMac computer.  Each runner-up will also receive a ONE goodie bag, and will be profiled on ONE’s blog and social media channels. All artwork entries will be showcased virtually as part of an online exhibition in the coming weeks.