Press release of June 14th, 2023
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija honored with Václav Havel Prize
PEN Berlin congratulates its newly elected member Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, who was awarded the »Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent« in Oslo today. The 35-year-old lawyer and writer is a celebrity in his native Uganda for his satirical novels. In books such as »Banana Republic« and »The Greedy Barbarian«, he takes aim at the political ills of the country.
This has landed him in jail on a number of occasions where he has suffered mistreatment. After being abducted by the secret service in February 2022 and again severely tortured, he decided to flee to a neighboring country. The German PEN Center, under its then-president and current spokesperson for PEN Berlin, Deniz Yücel, was able to bring the writer to safety in Germany. He now lives near Munich with his family.
Kakwenza Rukirabashaija’s laudator in Oslo, the well-known Serbian creative activist Srdja Popović, pointed out that this was the first time the prize had been awarded to a novelist. He particularly emphasized Rukirabashaija’s art form of »radical rudeness«, which for him is the welcome opposite of »political correctness«. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija said in his acceptance speech, together with all like-minded people he will not stop unveiling the atrocities of the dictatorship and fighting for truth, justice and human dignity.
PEN Berlin. We stand by our word.