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Zimbabwe's Book Cafe wins top award

Promoting cultural and social development through free speech and artistic expression

Published on 13 September 2011

Author(s): SW Radio Africa/Alex Bell

Type:  News

Harare based arts and culture venue, the Book Café has won the coveted Prince Claus award for 2011, for promoting cultural and social development through free speech and artistic expression.

The award is among he most prestigious international honours in culture, and is presented annually to individuals and organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean for outstanding achievement in culture.

The book cafe in Harare
The award has been described as “a momentous achievement for Zimbabwean performing arts, and for Book Cafe”, which becomes one of the first live performing arts venues of this kind in the world, built on a platform of freedom of expression and focusing across music, poetry and theatre with public discussion, film and multi-disciplinary arts, to win the acclaimed global award. Book Cafe was awarded the prize for its role in “culture and development”.

Four African recipients in performing arts have previously received the award: Baaba Maal (Senegal, music), Werewere Liking (Ivory Coast, spoken word), Yousour N'dour (Senegal, music) and Zimbabwe's Edgar Langeveld (comedy), who fittingly achieved his major successes in Book Cafe. Coincidentally, the award for Book Cafe comes as it commemorates its own 30 years of history (including Grassroots Books, the famous radical bookshop that transformed into Book cafe in 1997).

The Book Cafe was launched in 1997 in the capital and is described as “ a vibrant platform for free cultural expression in a country suffering political and economic upheavals, repressive laws, stringent censorship and a lack of cultural infrastructure.”

“Operating under the umbrella of the Pamberi Trust, with creative director Paul Brickhill, and a dedicated team of staff, this unassuming café and bar presents more than 600 cultural events a year to enthusiastic capacity audiences of people from all racial and cultural groups and all sectors of Zimbabwean society,” a statement for the award reads.

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