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Achille Mbembe speaking at the African Futures festival in Johannesburg in 2015. (Photo: Lerato Maduna. Courtesy of Goethe-Institut South Africa)

Cameroonian Political Theorist Achille Mbembe Has Won the €100,000 Gerda Henkel Prize for Research

This is the first time an African scholar has won the prestigious German award for outstanding research.

Achille Mbembe, the Cameroonian political theorist, author and educator, is the winner of the 2018 Gerda Henkel Prize.

The 100,000 euro ($116,100) prize is awarded to those conducting outstanding research in science and the humanities. This marks the first time that the German foundation has granted the bi-annual prize to an African scholar, reports Brittle Paper.

Mbemebe was chosen by the foundation for his innovative approach to research on African politics and post-colonial theory, which goes beyond typical analysis, to offer refreshing news ways to think about the future of African society.

READ: Discussing African Futures with Achille Mbembe


A statement from the Greda Henkel Institution reads:

His books "Critique of Black Reason"and "Sortir de la grande nuit", which have also been translated into German are impressive testimonies to a highly independent way of thinking that shapes Mbembe's research throughout and is as critical as it is self-critical. His deliberations on Africa's place in the global order are both controversial and unsettling and have made an enduring mark even far beyond fundamental debates on post-colonialism. They focus attention on "Africa the Lab" beyond all the customary stereotypes and highlight links between colonialism, racism and capitalism that still require a more thorough discussion here in Germany as well."

Mbembe, who is based in South Africa, is known for his seminal book On the Postcolony, which was published in 2002. His latest book Critique of Black Reason, was published in 2013. He is affiliated with Duke University and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

OkayAfrica spoke with Mbembe about Afro-futures and the "decolonization of knowledge" in an interview back in 2015, revisit it here.

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