Sulaiman Addonia Wins Golden Afro Artistic Award for Literature

The Belgian awards, which seek to improve cultural diversity in the country, honoured the Eritrean Ethiopian novelist and curator for founding a literary festival and a writing academy for refugees.
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Sulaiman Addonia accepts his Golden Afro Artistic Award, flanked onstage by friends. Source: Sulaiman Addonia's Twitter.

Sulaiman Addonia accepts his Golden Afro Artistic Award, flanked onstage by friends. Source: Sulaiman Addonia's Twitter.

Sulaiman Adonnia is the recipient of the 2021 Golden Afro Artistic Award for Literature. This comes after his second novel, Silence Is My Mother Tongue, was shortlisted for the Lambda Awards in the Bisexual Fiction category earlier this year. The novel was published in the UK by The Indigo Press in 2018 and in the US by Graywolf Press in 2020.

The Eritrean Ethiopian novelist received the award at a ceremony in Belgium.

Sulaiman Addonia at the Golden Afro Artistic Awards 2021.
Sulaiman Addonia at the Golden Afro Artistic Awards 2021. Credit: Sulaiman Addonia’s Twitter.

On Twitter, he wrote that it for his “writing, and for founding a literary festival, a creative writing academy for refugees, and co-founding a literary prize.”

“Thank you to the many wonderful who have supported me and my projects,” he tweeted.

Sulaiman Addonia’s next book, The Seers, is forthcoming from Canongate and Graywolf Press. His 2008 debut novel, The Consequences of Love, a love story set in a Saudi Arabia of rigid Muslim laws, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Addonia founded the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), a celebration of literature, art, and music by artists from up to 30 countries. The first edition of the festival took place on February 8, 2019, in Brussels, Belgium.

“With the festival—named after the two capitals of my parent’s countries—I wanted artists from the diaspora to have the chance to talk about literature, art and performance that mattered to us all,” he told World Literature Today.

Sulaiman Addonia founded the Refugee Writing Academy, a creative institute for refugees and asylum seekers in Brussels. After fleeing Eritrea following the Om Hajer Massacre, the novelist had lived in a refugee camp in Sudan. The academy is set for a re-launch next year.

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“Everyone has their own voice, including the refugees,” he has said. “What they need is a place to express it and tell their stories the way they want.”

More photos from the ceremony:

Paula Willie-Okafor
Paula Willie-Okafor is a staff writer at Open Country Mag. She is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where she is custodian of The Writers' Community (TWC). Her writing has appeared in Kissing Dynamite Magazine and Praxis Magazine.

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