Photo from YouTube.

Guinea’s Tierno Monénembo has been honoured with the 2017 Grand Prix de la Francophonie, the biggest award of the Académie Française.

Founded by the Canadian Government in 1986, the 30,000-euro Grand Prix de la Francophonie is given for “the work of a French-speaking physical person who, in his country or internationally, has contributed eminently to the maintenance and illustration of the French language.” It recognizes artistic as well as political contributions to the French language.

Previous African winners of the award include Madagascar’s Jacques Rabemananjara in 1988, Algeria’s Mohammed Dib in 1994, Senegal’s Abdou Diouf in 1996, Morocco’s Abdellatif Laabi in 2011, and Senegal’s Aminata Sow Fall in 2015.

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Born in Guinea, with part of his life spent in Senegal, Algeria and Morocco, Tierno Monénembo currently lives in France. With eleven books to his credit, his le Roi de Kahel (The King of Kahel) won the 2008 Prix Renaudot. His other books include Les Crapauds-brousse ( 1979), Les Écailles du ciel (1986), Un rêve utile (1991), Un attiéké pour Elgass (1993), Pelourinho (1995), L’Aîné des orphelins (2000), Peuls (2004), La Tribu des gonzesses(2006), and Le Terroriste noir (2012). His has been described as a “unique style alternating gravity and lightness.”

Tierno Monénembo is also known for calling out the silence of the international community after the September 2009 massacre of over 150 civilians in Conakry by the Guinean military. His words in a piece in Le Monde are notable:

“Guinea is dying, the world has the right to know, the world has the duty to be indignant. The Guineans deserve the compassion of other nations.”

On June 14, Tierno Monénembo’s tenth novel Le Terroriste noir (The Black Terrorist) saw its film adaptation released. Titled Nos Patriotes, the film centres around Addi Bâ, who joined the French Resistance as a member of the first Maquis des Vosges during World War II. He became known to the Germans as Der schwarze Terrorist (The Black Terrorist).

Congratulations to Tierno Monénembo.