Margaret Busby Wins Lifetime Achievement Award in African Literature


Margaret Busby Wins Inaugural Royal African Society

Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award in African Literature


Tribute to Margaret Busby by Ade Solanke

On Saturday 6th July, at Africa Writes 2019, Margaret Busby was awarded the inaugural Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award in Africa Literature. [Africa Writes is the annual literature festival hosted by the Royal African Society and held at the British Library in Euston, London].

The award was presented to Margaret Busby by Rt. Hon. Diane Abbott, MP & New Daughter of Africa, after an introduction of the award by Adeola Solanke FRSA. The author/playwright of Pandora’s Box delivered this tribute to Dr. Busby:

Thank you Africa Writes, the RAS, and the British Library, for inviting me to be part of the launch of a new and exciting tradition at Africa Writes.

It’s a terrific honour and a privilege to be here at this, the eighth Africa Writes festival, to announce the first Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement in African Literature award.

The Lifetime Achievement in African Literature will honour and pay tribute to those who have made a major contribution to African literature. Founded in 2019, it will be awarded at irregular intervals to writers, academics, publishers and translators, with careers spanning 30 years or more, in recognition of their life-long achievement within the field of African literature. 

The award comes about because of the first recipient actually. About a month ago, I made a chance remark to Sheila Ruiz, about just how wonderful a certain person is, and she said “yes! We should celebrate that!!”

And that certain person has kindly joined me, as Diane Abbott has, to pay tribute to writers We’ve sadly lost in recent years: Buchi Emetcheta and Andrea Levy. And at those tributes we say to each other, “why did we wait till they were no longer with us to thank them?”

This, the 2019 inaugural award, honours a doyenne of the literary world, and the world of African arts and letters in particular who, fortunately, WILL be with us for many years more. I’m thrilled to announce that the 2019 The Royal African Society Africa Writes Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Margaret Busby OBE, Hon. FRSL (also titled Nana Akua Ackon).

Margaret, a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world, has a career which actually spans, not thirty, but fifty years – and, as we’ve seen with the impact of the new DOA, is still going strong. She is a trailblazing publisher, writer, playwright, editor, broadcaster, literary critic, and overall staunch advocate for diversity in the arts. 

Her wikipedia page lists most of her incredible accomplishments, and I must add that wiki itself hosts many pages she’s unilaterally created herself for others - including mine! So you can read the full extent of her magnificent work there.

In closing, I’ll quote from a comment by one of her admirers, Jak Beula, founder of Nubian Jak. 

“Dr Margaret is a living legend who has planted seeds in the most amazing and unexpected places. Her tireless dedication has not yet been fully appreciated due to her humility. But her like we have not seen in Britain before, and will not again for many a generation. Had she been from the US she would be world famous. It’s up to us to honour her during her lifetime.”

I’d now like to call on the Right Honourable Diane Abbott MP, Shadow Home Secretary, to help us do just that and to present the award.

Adeola Solanke FRSA

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