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This Ugandan Author Just Won One of the Most Prestigious Literary Prizes For Her Debut Novel 'Kintu'

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was once rejected by British publishers who claimed her book was "too African."

First-time Ugandan author, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has won the 2018 Windham Campbell Prizes from Yale University—one of the most prestigious literary awards—for her debut novel Kintu, reports BBC Africa.

After moving to the UK 17 years ago, Makumbi dedicated all of her time to writing—which affected her earnings. "I really put everything into writing," she told BBC Africa. "So for this to happen is unbelievable."


While she's thrilled about the recognition, she says, for her, earning the award is "mainly about [doing] ordinary things that other people do that have a job.'

Makumbi shopped Kintu—an epic centered on the customs and myths of a Ugandan family who believe that they have been cursed for 250 years—around to British publishers who originally rejected it, claiming that her story was "too African." The novel was published in the UK in January.

The Windham Campbell Prizes from Yale University is considered the "richest" literary prize after the Nobel Peace Prize. Makumbi is the only winner out of eight to have published just one full-length work.

The author says she writes stories to inform her people of life outside of Uganda. "I write the stories as a way of writing back to Ugandans, informing them what happens to us," she says. "I'm telling them, 'You want to come to Britain? Hang on a minute. First read my story."

Congrats to the writer on winning the award, and not having to compromise her "Africanness" in the process.

Still from Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's TED Talk

Watch Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's  TED Talk on How Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Fight Climate Change

The Chadian activist—and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020—says traditional knowledge, as practiced in her native Mbororo community, is one of the keys to combatting climate change.

In a new TED Talk, climate activist, geographer and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, discusses the role that indigenous knowledge can play in combatting climate change.

During the 13-minute talk, Ibrahim emphasizes how the exploration and acceptance of various knowledge systems–including those that fall outside of the scope of typical scientific research–can add to our understanding of ways to protect the environment. "I think, if we put together all the knowledge systems that we have -- science, technology, traditional knowledge -- we can give the best of us to protect our peoples, to protect our planet, to restore the ecosystem that we are losing," says Ibrahim.

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Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach.

South Africans Condemn Police Brutality During National Lockdown

A number of videos have emerged on social media allegedly showing the intimidation and assault of several Black South Africans by law enforcement.

South Africa recently began a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed across the nation to aid the police in ensuring that the rules of the lockdown are upheld. However, disturbing footage has emerged on social media allegedly depicting law enforcement agents assaulting Black South Africans.

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Image by Sabelo Mkhabela.

This Is What It Takes for South African Musicians to Succeed Abroad

Jeremy Loops, Shimza, Moonchild Sanelly and GoodLuck discuss what it took to build their names overseas.

Disclaimer: The conversation which this piece makes reference to took place before the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa.

"I said it for 10 years that I'm going to work with Beyoncé, and everybody laughed for those 10 years. And I said it with conviction. Today, I'm on a Grammy-nominated album [on a song] with Beyoncé right now," says Moonchild Sanelly referring to the song "MY POWER" in which she's featured in alongside Busiswa, Nija, Yemi Alade, Tierra Whack and of course Queen B herself. The track is a fan-favorite from the Lion King: The Gift soundtrack album curated by Beyoncé. Moonchild is pulling out these receipts to elaborate a point she just made about self-belief which helped her build a career that's recognized globally, a feat very few South African artists have achieved.

A few of those artists— Jeremy Loops, Shimza and Juliet Harding (a member of the versatile electronic band GoodLuck)—are on the podium alongside Moonchild during the Midem Africa Conference in Langa, Cape Town towards the end of February. The four musicians are in conversation with Trenton Birch, musician and founder of Bridges for Music Academy, sharing their secrets to breaking into the highly competitive and advanced music markets of mainly Europe and the US.

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