Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o was awarded the Catalonia International Prize given by the Catalan government on December 20, 2019.
The Catalonia International Prize is given annually, since it was founded in 1989, to those who have contributed to developing cultural, scientific and human values around the world through their creative work. Previous winners of this prize have been philosopher Karl Popper, oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, politician Václav Havel, writer Doris Lessing, and activist Malala Yousafzai.
The 2019 winner, which had 74 candidates from 35 countries in the running, was clinched by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o “for his distinguished and courageous literary work and his defence of African languages, based on the notion of language as culture and collective memory.”
“Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is one of the most prolific and renowned African writers,” read the jury’s communiqué. “In all the genres he cultivates – novels, essays, memoirs, theatre – he combines the most profound African traditions with a sensitive yet merciless description of the social and political situation in his native Kenya.”
The prize will be awarded to the academic and author during the first quarter of 2020 at a ceremony chaired by Catalan president Quim Torra.