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Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown 2017 (Red Magazine).

British-Ethiopian Author, Lemn Sissay, Wins 2019 PEN Pinter Prize

Sissay's win marks the second year in a row that an author of African descent will be taking home the prestigious prize.

The UK's prestigious PEN Pinter Prize is awarded every year to a British writer who shows "outstanding literary merit" by casting an "unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world." This year, the coveted prize has been awarded to author, playwright, preformer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay.

Sissay, has enjoyed a long and successful literary career. He was the first poet commissioned to write for the 2012 Olympics in London and was awarded an MBE for his services to literature by the Queen of England. He is Poet Laureate of Canterbury and the winner of a NESTA New Radical Award for his work as a poet and a children's rights campaigner.

Sissay, who was born in England to an Ethiopian mother and has written extensively about the abuse he faced growing up in foster homes. He shared his story in a TED Talk entitled "A Child of the State" in 2014.


'In his every work, Lemn Sissay returns to the underworld he inhabited as an unclaimed child," said Maureen Freely, one of three judges who chose the 52-year-old writer. "From his sorrows, he forges beautiful words and a thousand reasons to live and love. On the page and on the stage, online or at the Foundling Museum, this is an Orpheus who never stops singing."

Lemn Sissay. Photo by Hamish Brown 2017 (Red Magazine)

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was the recipient of the 2018 PEN Pinter Award. Sissay's win marks the second year in a row, that an author of African descent will be taking home the prestigious prize.

Sissay who is currently the chancellor of the University of Manchester, will receive the award—which was established in 2009 in memory of British playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter—during a public ceremony at the British Library this coming October.

His latest work, a memoire entitled My Name is Why, is due out in August.

Upon receiving the news of his win, Sissay recalled when he first encountered the man behind the award. 'I met Harold Pinter when I was thirty six. We were on stage at The Royal Court," he said. "I was too intimidated or self-conscious to speak to him. And so I will now. Thank you. What I like about this award is that it is from a great writer and a great organisation. I accept it as a sign that I should continue. All I have is what I leave behind. All I am is what I do.'

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Image courtesy of Trap Bob.

Trap Bob Is the 'Proud Habesha' Illustrator Creating Colorful Campaigns for the Digital Age

The DMV-based artist speaks with OkayAfrica about the themes in her work, collaborating with major brands, and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her work.

DMV-based visual artist Tenbeete Solomon also known as Trap Bob is a buzzing illustrator using her knack for colorful animation to convey both the "humor and struggle of everyday life."

The artist, who is also the Creative Director of the creative agency GIRLAAA has been the visual force behind several major online movements. Her works have appeared in campaigns for Giphy, Girls Who Code, Missy Elliott, Elizabeth Warren, Apple, Refinery 29 and Pabst Blue Ribbon (her design was one of the winners of the beer company's annual art can contest and is currently being displayed on millions of cans nationwide). With each striking illustration, the artist brings her skillful use of color and storytelling to the forefront.

Her catalog also includes fun, exuberant graphics that depict celebrities and important moments in Black popular culture. Her "Girls In Power" pays homage to iconic women of color in a range of industries with illustrated portraits. It includes festive portraits of Beyoncé, Oprah, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama to name a few.

Trap Bob is currently embarking on an art tour throughout December, which sees her unveiling murals and recent works for Pabst Blue Ribbon in her hometown of DC and during Art Basel in Miami. You can see her tour dates here.

We caught up with the illustrator via email, to learn more about the themes in her work and how her Ethiopian heritage informs her illustrations. Read it below and see more of Trap Bob's works underneath.

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Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Outrage as the BBC Refers to Joint Booker Prize Winner Bernardine Evaristo as 'Another Author'

The first Black woman to win the literary prize, the BBC causally refers to Bernardine Evaristo as just 'another author'.

Bernardine Evaristo became the first Black woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize in October of this year. Contrary to the Booker Prize award rules, and to the marked displeasure of many, the British-Nigerian writer was forced to split the award with Canadian writer Margaret Atwood who had been the recipient of the award exactly a decade before.

However, a BBC news segment covering the 2019 Booker Prize described the award being given to Atwood and 'another author'. There has been tremendous outrage on social media from both fans and Evaristo who feel that the failure to name her is the beginning of an erasure of important history including Black people.

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Cardi B Teases New Remix of Davido's 'Fall'

Looks like the Nigerian star's massive hit is getting yet another re-up.

Cardi B has teased her apparent upcoming remix of Davido's "Fall."

Posting from a private jet, as she was on her way to New York before heading to West Africa, Cardi B shared a video of herself rapping and dancing along to the unreleased remix.

From the sounds of it, Cardi's "Fall" remix will feature a brand new verse from the New York rapper.

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Croatian Authorities are Under Fire for Wrongly Deporting Two Nigerian Students to Bosnia

The students and table tennis players were in Croatia for a tournament when they were picked up by police and sent to a refugee camp in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Abia Uchenna Alexandro and Eboh Kenneth Chinedu, Nigerian table tennis players and students at the University of Technology Owerri, were wrongfully deported to Bosnia after taking part in a sports tournament in Pula, Croatia, The Guardian reports. Organizers of the event are now demanding that the students be immediately returned to their home country.

Chinedu and Alexandro, both 18, were reportedly picked up by Croatian authorities on November 18—the night before they were scheduled to return to Lagos—in the country's capital Zagreb. They had visited for the fifth annual World InterUniversities Championships, which took place outside the capital in the city of Pula, and competed in the table tennis tournament. They were exploring the city afterwards and say they were approached by two officers while getting on a train and asked to provide identification.

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