Tsitsi Dangarembga have been awarded the 2021 PEN Award for Freedom of Expression.
The award, previously known as the Oxfam Novib/PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression, is annually conferred on writers and journalists in recognition of their significant contribution to freedom of expression despite the danger to their own lives. Last year’s prize was awarded to Dr Stella Nyanzi, the Ugandan academic and poet, who was serving a jail term at the time for criticizing Yoweri Museveni, who had been president of Uganda for 33 years. her country’s 33-year-ruling president Yoweri Museveni.
Dangarembga has had her (un)fair share of political tyranny. In the same year that her most recent novel This Mournable Body made the Booker shortlist, Dangarembga was arrested by the Zimbabwean Republic Police (ZRP) for participating in protests against bad governance. Dangarembga’s arrest was met with swift criticisms from the literary community. Her unwavering strength and insistence on speaking her truth even in detention was widely admired and makes her a worthy recipient of this PEN award.
The award ceremony will be part of the opening events of the online Winternachten International Literature Festival The Hague, and will be presided over by PEN International President and writer Jennifer Clement. The festival as well as the award ceremony will be live-streamed on January 13 2021 from 8:30 to 10:00 pm CET.
Previous winners of the Oxfam Novib/PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression include the Cameroonian journalist Enoh Meyomesse, the Eritrean poet Amanuel Asrat, the Belarusian Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, the Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, and the Honduran activist Dina Meza.
Read more about the award here.