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Ben Okri and Ngugi in Addis

African literary giants are in Addis to attend the Italian Grinzane Cavour Award ceremony to take place on Friday, October 2008 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.Nigerian novelist, poet, and short-story writer, Ben Okri, who achieved international recognition with his third novel, The Famished Road (1991) is among the attendant. He will be receiving an award in the African Mainstream prize category. One of the fathers of African literature,Kenyan novelist and playwright,Ngugi wa Thiong’o,many of whose works concern issues of Kenyan independence, is also in town for the award. Ngugi will be given the African Heritage Prize.Wizard of the Crow, Weep Not, Child, The River Between, Petals of Blood are among his major works.Angolan Ondjaki will be awarded in the Young Writer’s category.

A conference entitled Time for Africa:the Kaleidoscope of African Literature will be held tomorrow at the Italian Cultural Institute, with the panel of speakrs including Ethiopian writers Sahelesellasie Berhane Mariam and Sisay Nigussu, a university lecturer, Wondesen Adane, Cameroonese writer Werewere Liking, Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga,and the winners Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Ben Okri.It would start a 9 o’clock in the morning and is open for the public. Invitation is required for the event at the ECA.

The Grinzane Cavour award was established in 1982 as a literary prize but it was only this year it added the Africa Award. Addis was chosen to host the first edition. The initiative has been organized by the Italian Ministry of foreign Affairs, the Italian Embassy in Addis Ababa, the Piedmont Regional Authority, UNECA and in a agreement with the Community of St. Edidio in Rome and the University for Foreigners of Perugia (Italy).

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