Tsitsi Dangarembga Becomes the First Black Woman to Win Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

Image: Tsitsi Dangarembga, a writer and filmmaker from Zimbabwe, pictured after the award ceremony of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Image: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Image

Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga has been awarded the 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Washington Post reports.

Since the prestigious award was established in 1950, Dangarembga became the first Black woman to win the prize. The award comes with an honorarium of $29,100.

Dangarembga called for a “new Enlightenment,” arguing that a seismic shift is required to dismantle the structures of racial oppression that perpetuates violence in her home country and across the world.

“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 said Sunday at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, Germany.

“These kinds of violence are structured into the global order that we live in and have their root in the structures of a Western empire that began to be formed over half a millennium ago,” she added.

Among Dangarembg’s most well-known works include the bestselling novel, Nervous Conditions and its sequel, This Mournable Body. When the prize was announced earlier this year, the committee said she is “not just one of her country’s most important artists but also a widely audible voice of Africa in contemporary literature.”

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Auma Obama, a sociologist, activist, half-sister of former President Barack Obama, introduced Dangarembga. She said the writer and filmmaker has fought “against all odds” and “with all possible means” for “the voiceless and for freedom of expression” in Zimbabwe.

“You presented a differentiated picture of the African continent worldwide,” Obama added.


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