Outspoken writer Tsitsi Dangarembga has added yet another accolade to her long list of achievements. The dreadlocked writer was recently conferred with the 2021 PEN International award for freedom of expression.
The awards ceremony was held virtually, due to the covid 19 pandemic, at the Winternachten International Literature Festival, The Hague recently. The prestigious award is given to the most outstanding advocate in fighting for freedom of expression.The PEN Award for Freedom of Expression this year honoured the Zimbabwean authour for her remarkable work in the fight for freedom of expression.
In an interview with Bustop TV, Dangarembga attributed her recognition of the prestigious award to her book “This Mournable Body” which was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 a few days before her arrest after she participated in the anti-corruption protests in July.She also highlighted that the award is of importance as it brings to the fore issues of creative economy development, amplifying of women’s voices as well as democratic freedom that she has always stood up for.“The significance of awards is generally in the awareness they bring to one’s work. I am hoping this award will raise awareness about the issues I stand for and work for, which involve Zimbabwean and African creative economy development, capacitation and industrialisation, women’s voices and participation within that as well as democratic freedom, dignity and opportunity for all in Zimbabweans, built upon good governance and the rule of just law”‘, said Dangarembga.
In his congratulatory message to Dangarembga, PEN Zimbabwean President Elisha July expressed gratitude to PEN International for the recognition of one of their founding members and added that she (Tsitsi) gives them courage to fight for rights of literary work producers and the general citizenry as enshrined in the constitution.“At PEN Zimbabwe, we feel profoundly humbled by the recognition of one of our own, Tsitsi Dangarembga to the exalted hall of fame among the country’s foremost champions of one of the key fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution – The Freedom of Expression, Tsitsi took a stand, as must all of us, in fighting for that which is just. Many of us may lack the fortitude to face the might of those that wield the power but people like Tsitsi have shown us that it can be done,” said July.
Tsitsi Dangarembga was arrested after on 31 July 2020 for staging a demonstration against the country’s deteriorating economy and against the arrest of prominent Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader, Jacob Ngarivhume.She was charged with inciting public violence and spend a night behind bars.