US-based Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has been awarded the Premi Internacional Catalunya prize for his efforts in safeguarding African traditions, culture, and languages.
Ngugi was feted by the Catalonia government during the 31st Catalonia International Prize awards presided over by the President of Catalonia, Quim Torra on Thursday.
Ngugi in his acceptance speech delivered in his native Kikuyu language said he received the news about the award in December 2019 when he was in a hospital bed after undergoing heart surgery in California.
“Just before they took me to the operating room, I wrote a will. Hence, when I received the news that I had been feted, I felt alive again, like I was being celebrated in the land of the living. I was so happy that tears were balancing in my eyes,” Ngugi said.
The award-winning Kenyan writer trounced 74 other candidates from 35 different countries to scoop the prize.
Others who received the award are Bishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, Egyptian feminist Nawal al Sa Dawy, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, American-British philosopher Karl Popper among others.
Some of Ngugi’s novels include Weep Not Child, A Grain of Wheat, The River Between, Petals of Blood, Caitaani Mutharaba-ini, and Mũrogi wa Kagogo.