Eastern Africa News Network

Zanzibar born, uK novelist wins nobel prize in literature

The Zanzibar born author, Abdulrazak Gurnah, could have been the first Tanzanian to win such internationally acclaimed accolade, except he needs a Visa to travel to the East African Country.

As a Laureate, he gets a Gold Medal, a Diploma and Cash award in the range of US $1.2 Million (almost Tsh 2.6 Billion), for his trouble.

And being in England, both the Zanzibar Revenue Board and the Tanzania Revenue Authority won’t be getting a cut.

And that is because Gurnah is essentially British. Not Tanzanian. Though local media outlets in East Africa are trying to convince people otherwise.

Profesor Gurnah who has so far authored 10 books, got awarded the Nobel Prize for what is being described as his ‘Uncompromising and passionate,’ portrayals of the effects of colonialism.

The ‘Tanzanian’ writer was born in 1948 in the Isles, (that was long before Zanzibar United with Mainland).

He later moved to England at tender age. His novels portray mostly the refugee experiences.

His 1994 novel ‘Paradise’ which told the story of a boy growing up in Tanzania in the early 20th century, won the Booker Prize and marked his breakthrough as a novelist.

Gurnah, aged 73 was also a professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent in England before retiring.

“The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout Gurnah’s works,” the Swedish Academy said in a statement, adding that, the “characters find themselves in a hiatus between cultures and continents, between a life that was and a life emerging,” the academy pointed out.

Indeed, novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah should know more about both colonialism and post-colonialism. Afterall, he was born in Zanzibar, when the Isles were under British rule.

The author admits to have experienced the full force of European colonialism in both the Island and Africa as whole.

Gurnah’s prize happens to be the fourth Nobel accolade to be given out this week, after the awarding of the three science prizes.