Tsitsi Dangarembga has nominated Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, Uganda’s critical book writer, as this year’s International Writer of Courage.
Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean writer who was detained last year for protesting against corruption, was awarded the PEN Pinter prize on Monday evening, an award granted by English PEN in honour of Nobel laureate Harold Pinter to a writer of “exceptional literary merit.”
After giving the keynote speech at a gathering in the United Kingdom, the Zimbabwean author revealed Kakwenza as a co-winner of her prize for his vigorous defense of freedom of expression, which has landed him in jail multiple times.
“I am pleased to announce Kakwenza Rukirabashaija as a prize co-winner for his recount of his experiences. On Monday evening, Dangarembga told the audience, “It is with great respect that I shine alongside a writer on my continent whose literature represents the struggle for other writers in my country and Africa at large.”
Later, in a virtual meeting with the same audience, Kakwenza expressed his delight that his work had been honored with the award.
“I commend Tsitsi on her decision to share the fantastic award with me. I don’t have a gun, but I do have a weapon in the form of books. I appreciate PEN’s support for my right to free expression. “I thank you for picking me to share the prize,” the Ugandan writer stated after telling the audience about his arrest ordeal.
Last year, officers from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence arrested Kakwenza and he went missing for several days over his novel, The Greedy Barbarian.
As a result, he was charged with conducting an act likely to transmit the infection of a disease in violation of section 171 of the Penal Code Act before the Iganga Magistrates court.
The case was later dropped by the court due to a lack of evidence.