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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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UK Grime Meets Ethiopian Music In 'London To Addis'

A new 18-track release from No Hats No Hoods Records.

London To Addis follows various grime producers as they take cues from the instrumentation, time signatures, and musical scales of Ethiopian music.

The project started out in Addis Ababa, where No Hats No Hoods label co-founder Peter Todd (DJ Magic) spent a week recording traditional Ethiopian instruments like the krar, washint, masenqo and drums.

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"The inspiration for the project came when we visited Ethiopia in 2016 to shoot the video for Elf Kid's "Reload That" video," Peter Todd tells OkayAfrica via e-mail. " While we were there we met up with local producers and musicians but didn't get chance to work with them properly."

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Te'Amir Explores His Ethiopian Heritage In the 'Abyssinia Rise' EP

The LA-based producer's latest project celebrates his Ethiopian roots.

Te'Amir is a Los Angeles-based drummer and producer who tours and records with soul singer Aloe Blacc.

In addition to that, he's played with many musicians from LA's unique hip-hop, soul and jazz scenes such as Kamasi Washington, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and others.

In his latest EP, Abyssinia Rise, Te'Amir continues to explore his Ethiopian heritage. He expertly blends electronic beats with traditional Ethiopian samples to create lively soundscapes that draw you in right away.

"The project was a way for me to connect to Ethiopia. I've never been there so I use the music to take me there," he mentions.

The EP is comprised of four standout tracks that transport the listener through the winding rivers and busy fields of the old Abyssinian empire before closing with an ascending sense of peace. There's no doubt that this project is a transcendent experience, filled with fresh and exciting sounds.

Listen to Te'Amir's new EP Abyssinia Rise below.

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Stogie T shares polarizing visuals for 'Love & War.'

A few months ago, Stogie T highlighted the song "Love & War" as a single from his latest EP The Empire of Sheep, released in November 2019. After releasing a deluxe version of the project last week, today the south African emcee shares a music video for "Love & War," which features the emerging vocalist Lucille Slade.

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Black Coffee’s ‘Africa Is Not A Jungle’ Showcase Lockdown Edition Will be Hosted Online Every Week

Black Coffee's 'Africa Is Not A Jungle' showcase goes online amid the lockdown.

With festivals, concerts and events around the world having been postponed and cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Black Coffee's company Soulistic Agency will be presenting a Lockdown edition of Africa Is Not A Jungle. A Is Not A Jungle is the South African house music superstar's tour which had dates across South Africa and other parts of the continent—Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola and Uganda. The tour was put on hold in March soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa banned social gatherings of more than 100 people.

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