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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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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 10: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on stage during a campaign rally at the Target Center on October 10, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images).

Trump Attacks Ilhan Omar & Minnesota's Somali Community In Disparaging Anti-Immigrant Campaign Speech

Trump stepped up his demonization of Minnesota's Somali community in front of a braying crowd of MAGA-hat wearing supporters.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota and—in typical white-nationalist fashion—used a significant portion of his speech to disparage the local Somali community, and once again take shots at the state's Somali-born Representative Ilhan Omar.

"As you know for many years leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers," said Trump, echoing the countless anti-immigrant statements he's made in the past. "You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods and that's what you have the right to do right now, and believe me, no other president would be doing that," he added as his supporters cheered him on.

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Michael Tewelde/Getty Images

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has Been Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

The prize acknowledges his efforts to "achieve peace and international cooperation".

According to the BBC, there were 301 candidates, 223 individuals and 78 organizations, that were nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. In the running was Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and activists involved in the current Hong Kong protests. The prestigious Swedish academy has, however, awarded the prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, for the work he has done since taking up office in March of last year. Ahmed joins a number of notable Africans who've won the prize including South Africa's late former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Ghanaian former UN Secretary-General, Koffi Annan.

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Keith Roper/Flickr Creative Commons

Kais Saied is Set to Become Tunisia's Next President

While official results have not been published, the retired academic reportedly secured 76 percent of the votes according to the exit polls.

Last week, Tunisia held its legislative elections, according to reports by Aljazeera. The Ennahda Movement obtained 52 seats in the 217-member parliament while the Karoui's Heart of Tunisia party came second, with 38 seats. While the presidential elections were only scheduled to take place in November, they were pushed forward after the country's first democratically-elected president, Beji Caid Essebsi, passed away in July. Two independent candidates, media mogul Nabil Karoui and retired law professor Kais Saied, have been facing off in the presidential runoff. However, recent exit polls suggest that Saied secured between 72 and 77 percent of the vote.

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Illustration by Simone Martin-Newberry

A 15-Year-Old Nigerian Student Lends Her Voice to the Fight Against Boko Haram With Graphic Novel

Aisha Mustapha's graphic novel about her experiences under Boko Haram was published today for International Day of the Girl.

Aisha Mustapha, is a 15-year-old student from Nigeria, using her voice to tell her own story. The young writer recently penned a graphic novel about her experience fleeing Boko Haram, locating her family and trying to further her education. It's a heavy subject, obviously, but with her graphic novel, she offers a voice for young people directly affected by the crisis in Northern Nigeria.

The book was published today to mark the International Day of the Girl, a day established by the United Nations in 2011 to "highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights."

Aisha's talent for storytelling has previously been highlighted in Assembly, a by-girls-for-girls publication by the Malala Fund that brought Aisha's graphic novel to life, premiering it today in conjunction with International Day of the GIrl. Tess Thomas, Assembly's editor, elaborated on the purpose of the publication saying, "We believe in the power of girls' voices to generate change. Our publication provides girls with a platform so their opinions and experiences can inform decisions about their futures."

Aisha's words were illustrated by artist Simone Martin-Newberry, who had this to say about the process of creating the visuals for the graphic novel: "I was very moved by Aisha's story, and really wanted to treat it sensitively and do it justice with my illustrations. My aim was to capture the real emotions and actions of the story, but also keep my artwork bright and colorful and full of pattern, to help reflect Aisha's amazing youthful spirit."

Check out some excerpts from the piece below and head here to read it in full.
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