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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Linton Kwesi Johnson performs on stage at the Roundhouse on May 15, 2016 in London, England.

Jamaican-British Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson Shares 2020 Literature Prize with Amanuel Asrat

This year's winner of the PEN Pinter Prize, Linton Kwesi Johnson, has awarded the 'International Writer of Courage' honour to Eritrean writer, Amanuel Asrat, who is still believed to be in prison after 19 years.

Veteran Jamaican-British poet Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded this year's PEN Pinter Prize with the judges having described him as a writer "whose impact on the cultural landscape over the last half century has been colossal and multi-generational". Johnson subsequently announced that he was sharing the prize with Eritrean writer and journalist Amanuel Asrat and awarding him with the "International Writer of Courage" honour. Johnson says this is an act of solidarity for Asrat who is still believed to be in a maximum prison following his arrest in 2001 although his exact whereabouts over the past 19 years remain unknown.


READ: Jailed Ugandan Activist, Stella Nyanzi, Wins PEN Prize for Freedom of Expression

Speaking about his decision to honour Asrat with "The Writer of Courage", Johnson says the following:

"Keeping a citizen incarcerated, incommunicado, without charge or trial for nearly 20 years is the kind of egregious brutality that we associate with totalitarian states and dictatorships. As a gesture of solidarity from a poet of the African diaspora, I have chosen the Eritrean poet, songwriter, critic and journalist Amanuel Asrat."

Asrat, who was the was the editor-in-chief of Zemen, was arrested after the Eritrean government issued a ban on private press on September 18th, 2001. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Asrat's "whereabouts, health, and status remain unknown as the Eritrean government repeatedly has failed to provide credible answers to questions about imprisoned journalists, or to allow visits from family or lawyers." His family has also since pleaded with the international community to intervene on Asrat's behalf following his recent win and acknowledgment.

The PEN Pinter Prize is reportedly awarded on an annual basis to a writer from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who casts an "unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world, and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies". The literature prize was established back in 2009 and is awarded in honour of the Nobel-Laureate playwright, Harold Pinter.

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DJ Neptune Surveys the Sounds & Genres Running Africa In His New Album

Greatness 2.0 features an all-star cast of African artists and jumps from afrobeats to amapiano to asakaa, Ghana’s thrilling new take on drill.

Transitioning from a DJ to an artist is no small feat. Nigeria’s DJ Neptune has always had good ear for what the people want to hear, but in past years he's also shown his skill at assembling hitmakers to make a hit and earn a spot on any afrobeats playlist.

Neptune has been dotingly described as "Africa’s DJ Khaled" for his ability to bring the continent’s top names together in musical harmony. His 2018 debut album, Greatness: The Album, pulled from his extensive contacts and years of experience as one of Nigeria’s most influential radio personalities to create a star-studded compilation with features from Burna Boy, Davido, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Efya, Kizz Daniel and Olamide, to name a few.

In 2020, during the pandemic, DJ Neptune endeared himself with his intimate live sessions with Neptune Isolation Radio, where he constantly entertained people during the lockdown. After more than a decade as a DJ, and also one of afrobeats’ most influential personalities and curators, he has assembled some of Africa’s hitmakers for his sophomore album, Greatness 2.0, which he describes as “a playlist with Africa’s favorite artists.”

Artists on the truly pan-African project include Nigeria’s Mr Eazi, Rema, Patoranking, Yemi Alade, Stonebwoy, Joeboy, Omah Lay, Simi, Adekunle Gold, Laycon, Ladipoe, Blaqbonez, Cheque, Peruzzi, Bella Shmurda and Phyno, Ghana’s Stonebwoy and Kofi Jamar, Harmonize and Anjella from Tanzania, South Africa’s Focalistic; and UK rapper One Acen. Collaborating with Neptune on production are Magic Sticks, Dëra and MOG, among other afrobeats hitmakers.

Greatness 2.0 is a survey of the sounds and genres currently running Africa —from afrobeats to amapiano and asakaa, Ghana’s thrilling new take on drill.

In this interview, we speak with DJ Neptune about DJ culture in Nigeria, working with some of Africa's biggest superstars, and his new album.

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