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French writer David Diop poses during a photo session in Paris on September 20, 2018.

David Diop Awarded 2021 International Booker Prize

French-Senegalese writer David Diop is the recipient of this year's International Booker Prize for his debut novel 'At Night All Blood Is Black'.

French-Senegalese writer, David Diop, has been awarded this year's prestigious International Booker Prize for his debut novel At Night All Blood Is Black. In a notable historic moment, he is also the first French writer to be awarded this literary prize, according to several reports. Diop had initially been longlisted for the prize alongside veteran Kenyan author, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, for his novel ThePerfect Nine — the first ever entry to have been written in the indigenous African language of Gikuyu.


READ: Author David Diop Makes International Booker Prize ShortlistAuthor David Diop Makes International Booker Prize Shortlist

At Night All Blood Is Black was reportedly inspired by Diop's grandfather and the personal experiences he had during World War I. The novel is described by OkayAfrica's Nobantu Shabangu as follows:

"The historically-influenced novel is written in the active voice of its protagonist Alfa Ndiyae, a young recruit from a village in Senegal. Diop attempts to make sense of the psychological tension faced by Alfa Ndiyae, who is caught up in the madness of a war that weaponised Black bodies for its own agendas. Ndiyae is subsequently driven to revenge on white soldiers after witnessing the terrible death of his best friend Mademba Diop and, so, heads into the enemy lines."

The BBC reports that chair of the judges, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, described Diop's offering saying, "We judges agreed that its incantatory prose and dark, brilliant vision had jangled our emotions and blown our minds," and going on to add, "That it had cast a spell on us."

According to The Guardian, Diop was born in Paris to a French mother and Senegalese father and spent his childhood in Senegal. Thereafter, he returned to France and eventually became a professor of 18th-century literature at the University of Pau. His £50 000 prize money will be split between himself and Anna Moschovakis who translated his novel into English.

The International Booker Prize is awarded annually to a single book that is translated to English and published in either the UK or Ireland. Previous winners include British-Nigerian writer Bernadine Evaristo who became the first ever Black woman to be awarded the prize in 2019.

Literature
Photo: Ruvimbo Muchenje

Despite Persecution, Tsitsi Dangarembga Writes On

The award-winning novelist is awaiting judgment, slated for the end of September, on charges of inciting public violence.

Zimbabwean filmmaker, activist and author Tsitsi Dangarembga remains defiant, continuing to write, despite ongoing persecution from the government. She was arrested in 2020 along with another activist, Julie Barnes, while holding placards calling for reform and the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin'ono, in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Harare.

The President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led regime arrested several prominent activists and opposition party figures to allegedly thwart planned mass demonstrations over poor governance and state-security brutality during the COVID 19 era, in mid-2020. Chin'ono, one of the country’s most prominent journalists, was arrested for exposing a corruption scandal during the pandemic.

Dangarembga, who became the first Black woman winner of the 2021 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for her creative work and social engagement, has had numerous work opportunities affected by the ongoing trial against her. Although she has been able to go to the UK to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival and promote her latest publication – Faber and Faber recently released a book of her essays, titled Black and Female, there – she has missed other chances to travel.

As in most developing nations, the arts sector in Zimbabwe does not pay much and most creatives look out for various opportunities for survival in a country hit by economic malaise, shortages of basic commodities and currency crisis. When Dangarembga was released on bail in 2020, surrendering her passport to the police to ensure she would not flee the country was part of her bail condition.

“In the beginning, I was very optimistic that the case would be dealt with speedily,” she says, adding that in December 2020 when she received her passport back to attend her fellowship at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study in Cape Town, in neighboring South Africa, she did not think the case would have much impact on her work.

The magistrate who ruled in the matter even told her that the charges were not grave. “I received my passport back and no longer reported weekly from December 2020, which was a relief,” says Dangarembga. But she realized her predicament at the hands of the regime in her homeland was far from over when the state took a long time to prepare for trial and kept changing dates.

“It was difficult to adjust my schedule to the court dates. With the creative economy in Zimbabwe being as depressed and specific as it is, I cannot afford to miss any opportunity to earn a living,” she says. “I missed an important teaching job in Johannesburg that I still think about with regret to this day. I love mentoring young African people to tell their stories, whether it be on screen or on paper.”

It is now more than two years since Dangarembga was placed on remand, waiting and going through trials for a case that has yet to be finalized. If convicted, she faces several years in prison. The judgment was due to be delivered on the 26th of August but it was postponed to September 29 because Dangarembga's co-accused did not attend court that day as she was outside the country.

Still, she continues to work on the projects that fuel her fire and further her message. Dangarembga is currently writing a young adult speculative dystopian fiction called Sai-Sai and the Great Ancestor of Fire. “This is the work that has suffered the most from the events of the last two years,” she says. Dangarembga says her concentration on fiction has been affected because the place she writes from is occupied with turmoil about the trial. “However, I was able to work on some screenplays,” she says.

“When the trial began in earnest I did not manage much work at all,” she says. “All my work is generated from my own internal environment as a writer, so the last five months or so have been very difficult for me.”

The 63-year-old writer, born in Mutoko, a town 143 kilometers northeast of Harare, moved to the UK at the age of two. She returned in 1980, before Zimbabwe gained independence from British colonialists. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions, won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. She is also credited for writing the story that was turned into Zimbabwe’s highest grossing film in 1993, Neria, and three years later, she became the first Black Zimbabwean woman to direct a feature film, Everyone’s Child. Just days before she was arrested in 2020, Dangarembga’s novel This Mournable Body, which is part of a series, was nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize.

Regarding Dangarembga’s case, Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer, says there can be no doubt that it is persecution under the guise of prosecution. “The constitution provides for the freedom to demonstrate and to petition peacefully and there can be no doubt that a two-women protest could not have been anything but peaceful,” she says. “Dangarembga’s prosecution is, sadly, one of the many cases of abuse using the criminal justice system.”

Kenyan-based award-winning writer, editor and publisher Zukiswa Wanner says the state does not have a viable case. “It is tragic that Zimbabwean authorities are so full of fear that something as simple as a woman marching alone with a placard is seen as inciting public violence instead of it being seen as a request for them to do better by citizens,” Wanner, who's co-facilitated training workshops with Dangarembga around the continent, tells OkayAfrica.

Wanner, who was born in Zambia but raised in Zimbabwe, believes it’s the top government officials who've destroyed the country that should be in prison, not critics like Dangarembga. Upholding human rights, along with drawing attention to women and gender issues, has long been central to the work that has earned Dangarembga praise.

“I think the state targets dissenting voices. Some of those dissenting voices are women’s voices,” Dangarembga says. “I think the effect of taking action against women is particularly shocking because women’s dissident voices are usually not violent. Peaceful protest is a constitutional right in Zimbabwe.” And Dangarembga intends to exercise that right as much as she can.

Music

Sélébéyone Is at the Intersection of Experimental Hip-Hop, Jazz & Wolof

The international 'avant-rap collective' deliver a new album packed with impressive rhymes from Senegal's Gaston Bandimic.

Shrouded in birdsong, Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty opens up “Djibril,” the second track on Sélébéyone’s new album with grave certainty. In French he tells us: "You must close your eyes. Have you closed your eyes? You see points of light. Close them tightly. Each time that you want to see the light, you must close your eyes."

It encapsulates an astounding album in Xaybu: The Unseen that sounds like a spiraling Miles Davis as cosmonaut lost in geometric prisms of Africa. Free jazz in the lost outer dimensions may not be for everyone but this ‘international avant-rap collective’ as they like to call themselves sound less like session musicians polishing off their licks when Senegalese star, Gaston Bandimic, is cutting loose at the heart of it all.

Down wormholes of terror and abject confusion this group’s best moments are when they shoot for spiritually and mysticism through sonic chaos. Saxophonists Steve Lehman of Los Angeles and Maciek Lasserre of Paris ride off the energy that pours out of Bandimic. He delivers in Wolof as if it were for the last time.

That he and Lasserre are both Sufi Muslims, makes the record take on a shape of its own and attempts to reveal the connection they have with the unknown. When I manage to track him down he is in Lyon with his family. A hip-hop star back in Africa, he appears on this transatlantic album that sounds at times like a bad dream in an 80s movie. What is the deal here?

Bandimic describes making music as making new universes, citing “the symbiosis of cultures and civilizations” and how “jazz is not symmetrical, it’s another level — just as the spirit is not palpable. It is abstract”.

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Music
Photo credit: Paras Griffi

Asake Has to Add Third O2 Academy Show After Selling Out in Minutes

As he climbs up the ladder of global superstardom, Asake continues to break glass ceilings and crash websites.

Asake has been making undeniable waves with his music and mass appeal, and his recent O2 Academy ticket sales are proof of that.

The new Afrobeats sensation recently sold out London's O2 Academy venue for his upcoming UK stint. Amidst the buzz of the sold out show, the official account of the O2 Academy took to social media to share that Asake would be headlining two additional shows at the event's center. Although the original date was slated for the 11th of December, the high demand for tickets pushed organizers to add on two more dates to the 11th, and "Mr. Money With The Vibe" will also now perform on the 12th and the 15th.

Asake's career trajectory has been swift, yet packed with back to back hits and critical acclaim. The Lagos-born artist first got his major big break when Olamide signed him to YBNL. His long trail of chart-topping records have quickly earned him the attention of fans, airplay and recognition. The Afrobeats singer's success, though sudden, has helped to propel him to the upper echelon of musical acts coming out of Africa. Because of the versatility of his sound, listeners have quickly gravitated towards his content. His ascent into superstardom has also ignited intrigue and conversation, inspiring many fans to root for him, because of his initial reputation as the underdog. Although he had received some recognition in 2020 after he released his "Mr. Money" single, 2022 was the year that he would gain the admiration and respect of his peers, as well as a bevy of fans and commercial success.

Though still a newcomer, Asake has proven that he is not a typical Afrobeats artist. His unique ability to fuse different Afro-inspired sounds from Fuji to Amapiano have made him a rare talent. He has also amplified the depth of most of his songs by merging different genres and articulating them with Yoruba language and the broken English spoken in some of the most intricate parts of Lagos. Those elements perhaps, are what have made Asake one of the most marketable and likable Afrobeats artists in recent time.

Popular
Photo by: Screenshot from The Daily Show'

"My Time is Up:" Trevor Noah Talks About Leaving 'The Daily Show' After 7 Years

The South African comedian announced that he would be leaving the Comedy Central series after his seven-year tenure.

Trevor Noah announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show after seven years.

In his statement Noah described his experience hosting the show as "absolutely amazing."

“It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s something that I never expected,” Noah said. “I found myself thinking throughout the time of everything we’ve gone through. The Trump presidency, the pandemic, just the journey, more pandemic and I realize that after the seven years, my time is up.”

Following the departure of Jon Stewart from the show in 2015, the South African comedian became the show's host, and has since interviewed the likes of Barack Obama, Burna Boy, Davido and a host of other notable public figures. The 38-year-old has also used his platform to elevate African artistry and elevate the African experience. Noah alluded to the idea that his decision to leave the show was inspired partly by his interest in returning to stand up comedy and exploring his skillset that way. Noah also thanked his viewers for giving him an opportunity when he first came on the American scene as a comedian who very few knew about.

“I spent two years in my apartment, not on the road, and when I got back out there, I realized there’s another part of my life out there that I want to carry on exploring. I miss learning other languages. I miss going to other countries and putting on shows,” said Noah.

Noah also referred to the show as "one of the greatest joys" of his life, and has credited the show for helping him hone his creative muscle.

“I’ve loved hosting this show, it’s been one of my greatest challenges and one of my greatest joys,” Noah said. “I’ve loved trying to find a way to make people laugh, even when the stories are particularly shitty, even on the worst days. We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together.”

Although he did not make any comments about his last day on the show, or exactly when he would exit, he did humorously say that he would not abruptly leave without prior warning.

“Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing,” said Noah. “If I owe you money, I’ll still pay you.”

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