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Statement of solidarity at university for Booker Prize nominee arrested in Zimbabwe

PUBLISHED: 16:29 16 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:31 16 October 2020

UEA students have written urging the acquital of Zimbabwe author Tsitsi Dangarembga. Picture: Supplied by UEA

UEA students have written urging the acquital of Zimbabwe author Tsitsi Dangarembga. Picture: Supplied by UEA

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University students and staff are standing beside a Booker Prize nominated author arrested for protesting in Zimbabwe in a letter urging for her acquittal.

Tsitsi Dangarembga, who was recently announced as the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) inaugural International Chair of Creative Writing, is awaiting a decision by the Zimbabwean justice system after being arrested at the end of July.

In the same week she was long listed for the 2020 Booker Prize she was charged with inciting public violence and has been freed on bail ahead of an appearance in court on October 22.

Students and staff of UEA’s Creative Writing programme have called for her acquittal, citing her right to peaceful protest, right of assembly and free expression of her views, under the law of Zimbabwe and international law.

A statement of support said: We write out of concern for and in solidarity with Tsitsi Dangarembga and the right to peacefully protest. Peaceful protest is a human right and a freedom, one of expression, and one that we as creative writers on the MA course at UEA enjoy. The Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing School, and UEA as a whole, benefit from Ms. Dangarembga’s position as International Chair for Creative Writing and this right to free expression.

“We stand behind and beside Ms. Dangarembga during this challenge to her right to free expression and hope for a favourable resolution to her case so that she may continue to raise and express her creative voice in a peaceful manner.”

UEA announced the author’s appointment on October 1 as part of the creative school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The role was set up to encourage new writing from the African continent, and to head up its Global Voices scholarship programme, which will fund 10 places over five years for students from African countries to study at UEA.

Professor Jean McNeil commended the students for taking action.

“It’s been an ordeal for her, August, September and now it is October and there have been several statements of support, her publishers, the Booker Prize and English PEN, we are one more voice,” she said.

“The students haven’t met her, they do not know her and they might not meet her because she is coming next year in 2021 and they have said we would like to say something.”


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