bernard-dadiecc81-lettres-africainesBernard Dadié is 100!

His birthday was on January 10, but last week the literary legend had the chance to celebrate the huge milestone in the best way possible. He joined friends and family in Abidjan were he was honored as the winner of the UNESCO sponsored Jamie Torres Bodet award.

Winning the award comes with a 50, 000 dollar cash prize and recognition for the work he as done promoting literature and culture.

Sometimes referred to as the Achebe of Ivorian literature, Dadié is known for his stellar career as a poet. We have people like Dadié to thank for the existence of an African literary culture and institution. Born in 1916, he was there when it all began. His poems and novels were inspiration for the black nationalist movement called negritude. The poem “Je Vous Remercie Mon Dieu” is considered one of the greatest negritude anthems of all time. Dadié’s life’s work of about 20 books cuts across multiple genres.

It comes as no surprise that Dadié wins this award given in recognition for contributions made “to the development of knowledge and society through art, teaching and research in social sciences and humanities.”

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The initial list of candidates were drawn from 20 countries. UNESCO reports that Dadié was unanimously voted as the winner of the prize in acknowledgement of his status as a “pioneer and giant of African literature.” The Jamie Torres Bodet award is in its first year and is set up to run every two years.

Jeune Afrique reports that Dadié received the award himself, in spite of his age. Even though his son went on to give his acceptance speech, Dadié was able to put in a few remarks in which he said, with his voice trembling, that his writing has always been about shining the light of knowledge.

Congrats to Dadié! We feel truly blest to celebrate with a true veteran of African literature.

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Post image by AFP / Sia Kambou Shooting Thankar Chanda Article from RFI via On n’est ps de moutons