Angola Awards Portugal

Ondjaki wins Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023

Ondjaki was awarded the Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023 in Évora, Portugal on Wednesday, March 1, 2023.

Vergílio Ferreira was a Portuguese writer, essayist, professor and a key figure in Portuguese-language literature. He was awarded the Camões Prize, which seeks to distinguish the great names of Portuguese-language literature, in 1992. He passed away in 1996 and a year later the University of Évora, Portugal’s second oldest university, created the €4,000 Vergílio Ferreira Award. It was aimed at celebrating a distinguishing the literary narrative and/or essay work of a relevant Portuguese language author. Some of the previous winners have been Helena Carvalhão Buescu, Ana Luisa Amaral, Carlos Reis, Nélida Piñon, Gonçalo M. Tavares, Teolinda Gersão, and João de Melo.

The 2023 edition had a jury chaired by the University of Évora Professor Antonio Saez Delgado alongside university professors Eunice Ribeiro, Fatima Frietas Morna, and Elisa Nunez Esteves, as well as literary critic Miguel Filipe Mochila. They announced the winner, Angolan writer Ondjaki, in January who would be conferred on March 1, the anniversary of the death of Ferreira. He was selected due to his contribution to making Portuguese “a language of reconciliation” and “of critical awareness.”

The jury, in its assessment, highlighted “the contribution that Ondjaki made for the Portuguese language to be a language of reconciliation and even of critical awareness for all Portuguese speakers.”

Ondjaki has published four novels, three collections of short stories, two collections of poetry and three children’s books. He has been awarded a number of important prizes, among them the Jabuti Prize. His novel Transparent City was awarded the Saramago Prize 2013, Prix Transfuge 2015 and Prix Littérature Monde 2016. His books have been translated to French, Spanish, Italian, German, English, Chinese and Swedish.

Ondjaki receives Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023
Ondjaki receives Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023

The Angolan was given the award at a ceremony at the University of Évora on Wednesday evening. Speaking on being conferred the honour he said,

“I am grateful that this award has put me in a place that, I believe, goes beyond literary. This award is also an acknowledgement of my work in civil society as there can be no future of literature in our world if we are not learning from history and using that knowledge in the present to agitate for a better future. Equally important, this is the first time this award has been given to an Angolan author which proves that, just as the world can be critical of Angola, there are also reasons to celebrate it as it nurtured many like myself and being Angolan is not other but is part of the greater world where one’s actions can be acknowledged.’

Ondjaki with the Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023
Ondjaki with the Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023

By James Murua

This blog is run by James Murua a Nairobi, Kenya based lover of books.

One reply on “Ondjaki wins Vergílio Ferreira Award 2023

Congratulations to Ondjaki on receiving this award! Some years back. Ondjaki spoke at the @Ottawa International Writersfestival to a very appreciating audience. Hope to see him again sone time in Canada!

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