‘Friends. Here is a principle. If you want your suffering to end, you have to act. Action comes from hope. This is the principle of faith and action.’
Statement by Tsitsi Dangarembga before her arrest on 31 July 2020
On June 24, 2020 the University of East Anglia appointed Tsitsi Dangarembga to the position of the inaugural International Chair of Creative Writing, with a remit to focus on encouraging new writing from the African continent, and to head up our Global Voices scholarship programme, which will fully fund ten places over five years for students from African countries to study on our range of creative writing Masters programmes.
On July 31, 2020, Dangarembga was arrested while peacefully protesting corruption amidst the Coronavirus pandemic in Harare, Zimbabwe. She was arrested without cause or explanation by members of the Zimbabwe police force and held overnight. The judgement on her case, several times delayed, is now scheduled for 22 October.
The University of East Anglia’s creative writing students and staff involved in the programme and in Dangarembga’s appointment have written the statement below. Along with English PEN, Dangarembga’s publishers, Faber and Faber, and the Booker Foundation, who have also called for her acquittal on these charges, UEA stands in solidarity with Tsitsi Dangarembga’s right to peaceful protest.
Statement of Support of Tsitsi Dangarembga:
The signatories below represent members of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing – Prose Fiction MA cohort. We write out of concern for and in solidarity with Tsitsi Dangarembga and the right to peacefully protest. Peaceful protest is a human right and a freedom, one of expression, and one that we as creative writers on the MA course at UEA enjoy. The Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing School, and UEA as a whole, benefit from Ms. Dangarembga’s position as International Chair for Creative Writing and this right to free expression.
We stand behind and beside Ms. Dangarembga during this challenge to her right to free expression and hope for a favourable resolution to her case so that she may continue to raise and express her creative voice in a peaceful manner.
Will Bindloss, Alastair Wong, Rose Van Orden,
Tawseef Khan, Leeor Ohayon, Mary Franklin,
Nathan Merchant, Amelia Sparling, Pamela Loke,
Conor Duggan, Jonathan Padway, Max Lury,
Catherine Mitchell, Adeola Salau, Adam Hussain,
Lillie Lainoff, Polly Halladay, Mary Wallace,
Twishaa Tandon, Olivia Lowden, Aidan Maartens,
James Mildren, Laura Cooper, Sindre Amundsen,
Rose Keating, Shereen Jackson, Kiera Summer,
Victoria Penn, Helen Rye
The Creative Writing programme at the University of East Anglia supports our students’ statement and we also call for Tsitsi Dangarembga’s acquittal of the charge of inciting public violence that has been brought against her in Zimbabwe. We reiterate her right to peaceful protest, right of assembly and free expression of her views, under the law of Zimbabwe and international law.
Professor Sarah Barrow, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Humanities
Professor Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing
Professor Jean McNeil, International Co-ordinator, Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
Dr Philip Langeskov and Dr Naomi Wood, Co-convenors, MA Prose Fiction
Professor Andrew Cowan, School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
For more on CW50: www.newwriting.net/subjects/cw50