Peace Prize to Tsitsi Dangarembga: “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”

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Culture Frankfurt Peace Prize

“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”

Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Friedenspreisträgerin 2021

Source: dpa-infocom GmbH

The writer and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe appeals to people’s ability to reflect at the award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. And was not bothered by a protest by a Green politician.

Dhe author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in Frankfurt. The award ceremony in the Paulskirche on Sunday marks the traditional conclusion of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which this year was strongly influenced by activist debates about the participation and representation of black people. Dangarembga, born in Zimbabwe in 1959, was honored for her trilogy of novels, her fight for freedom rights and political change in her home country.

In “Aufbruch”, “Verleugnen” and “Überleben”, the names of the three novels in German, she describes the struggle for a decent life and female self-determination using the example of an adolescent woman. The laudation was given by the Kenyan Germanist and sociologist Auma Obama. She is the half-sister of the former US President Barack Obama. Obama, who studied and did her doctorate in Germany, praised Tsitsi Dangarembga’s constant drive to take on responsibility.

Resonance spaces for questions of justice

Despite all the hurdles, she fights every day with courage for those without a voice and for freedom of expression: “I’m sure you would have wanted to give up sometimes, Tsitsi, and give in to the temptation to simply lead a normal, ordinary life. But you are not ordinary. ”Dangarembga pointed out conflicts that went far beyond the regional context and created“ resonance areas for global questions of justice ”, the Börsenverein said when handing over the certificate.

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What always sounds abstract in prose prose became more than clear in the speech of thanks broadcast live on television. “Zimbabwe, the state I come from, has never known peace,” said Dangarembga, tracing the colonial history of her country from the former Rhodesia to the present day. She spoke of a “no-win situation”: “We should not be surprised that violence – physical, psychological, political, economic, metaphysical and genocidal violence – is too often the order of the day in post-colonial countries.” make people aware: “The violent world order in which we live today” has been “established by hierarchical ways of thinking for over half a millennium”.

Laudator Auma Obama, half-sister of the former US President Obama

Laudator Auma Obama, half-sister of the former US President Obama

Source: dpa / Thomas Lohnes

Group characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality and class affiliation are the building blocks of a world order, from which Dangarembga sketched a way out by quoting the French philosopher Réne Descartes: His famous sentence “I think, therefore I am”, a key formula of the Western Enlightenment , absolutely need a supplement or a return to the original context: “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.”

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The self-certainty of the imperial world order denied certain people the value of being human right from the start. There will be no “miracle cure” for this system, but there will be the hope of turning Descartes into a “We think, therefore we are” or even “We are, therefore we think”.

Mirrianne Mahn, officer for diversity development at the Greens, interrupts Peter Feldmann (SPD)

Mirrianne Mahn, officer for diversity development at the Greens, interrupts Peter Feldmann (SPD)

Source: dpa / Thomas Lohnes

For the first time in the history of the Peace Prize there was an actionist intervention. During the welcome by Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD), Frankfurt local politician Mirrianne Mahn (Greens) rose from the audience, went to the lectern and interrupted Feldmann – unhindered by law enforcement officers – to explain in front of the cameras that she was “As a black woman” must point to a contradiction.

“The paradox is that here in the Paulskirche we give the peace prize to a black woman, but black women were not welcome at this book fair. And I say very clearly not were welcome because they don’t feel safe. ”With this statement, Mahn alluded to the debate about the black author Jasmina Kuhnke, who had canceled her appearance at the book fair before the opening on Wednesday, thus triggering a debate.

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October 24, 2021, Hessen, Frankfurt / Main: Mirrianne Mahn (Die Grünen), speaker for diversity development, interrupts Peter Feldmann (SPD), Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, during his speech and expresses her fears about racism and right-wing tendencies.  The award ceremony will take place in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt.  This year's winner is the author Dangarembga.  Photo: Thomas Lohnes / epd-Pool / dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

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