Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangaremgba has been awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. She was announced as the winner during a ceremony held in Frankfurt. She is the first African woman to be honored with the prize, which highlights her contributions to literature and promotion of civil liberties.
Awarded since the 1950s, the Peace Prize is an initiative of the German Book Trade, an association of booksellers and publishers in Germany, who also run the Frankfurt Book Fair. The prize is annually conferred on a writer “who have contributed to these ideals through their exceptional activities, especially in the fields of literature, science and art.”
Dangaremgba was awarded for her artistic work in literature, and also her political activism. She will receive a cash award of €25,000.
Dangaremgba’s strides, both in literature and political activism, can not be understated. Her novels consistently explore concepts of freedom and self-autonomy, centering stories of women struggling to find their place in a politically unstable Zimbabwe. Her most recent work This Mournable Body was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She was also announced winner of the 2021 Pen Award for Freedom of Expression, and the Pen Pinter Prize.
The award ceremony featured a tribute by author Auma Obama. She praised Dangaremgba’s tenacity even in the face of a violent political clampdown in her home country of Zimbabwe.
Dangaremgba in her acceptance speech called for the use of language to deconstruct hierarchical modes of thinking in terms of sex, gender, race, nationality, etc:
There will be no miracle cures for our errors of thought. What we can look to is to change our thought patterns word by word, consciously and consistently over time, and to persevere until results are seen in the way we do things and in the outcomes of our actions.
She ended the address by enjoining the audience to read more African books.
Previous winners of the prize include Margaret Atwood and Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe.
Congratulations to Tsitsi Dangaremgba.
Watch the full speech here: