PRAESA accepts the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
at the Stockholm Concert Hall
It was an emotional moment when, this past Monday, June 1st, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) was presented to PRAESA of South Africa by Swedish Minister for Culture and Democracy Alice Bah Kuhnke. PRAESA (Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), is the first laureate ever from the African continent.PRAESA, an organization working to promote reading and literature for children and young people in South Africa since 1992, is based in Cape Town. It was founded by the political activist Neville Alexander who was imprisoned on Robben Island during South African apartheid era as a fellow- prisoner of Nelson Mandela. The organization emerged from Neville Alexander’s struggle against the apartheid education, intending to document alternatives that had been tried out that could inform the new education process.
At the Stockholm Concert Hall PRAESA was represented by Director Carole Bloch, Training Coordinator Ntombizanele Mahobe and Programmes Support Officer Malusi Ntoyapi. In her speech, Carole Bloch emphasized how stories actually can change children’s and young people’s lives:“We believe that the stories we tell, write and read can change lives. Sharing stories inspire us all to struggle against becoming overwhelmed by the challenges we meet each day in our fractured and profoundly unequal society. This is also the impetus behind the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign PRAESA runs.”
The Minister for Culture and Democracy, Alice Bah Kuhnke, underlined the importance of culture for democracy:
“For me as a minister of both culture and democracy it is very encouraging to see PRAESA’s successful work using culture to strengthen democracy. A wide range of culture, arts and literature that reaches both adults and children is a prerequisite for democratic development and for preserving democracy.”
Artist Kristina Amparo performed her own songs during the evening, and Swedish rap artist Petter performed his own text Fäller en tår. The program also included a street dance performance inspired by the South African Kwaito music style. Host for the evening was Ingemar Fasth, Head of Literature and Libraries at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.
The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) is the world’s largest prize for children’s and young adult literature. The award, which amounts to SEK 5,000,000 (or U.S. $602,177.50), is awarded annually to a single recipient or to several. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and those active in reading promotion may be rewarded. The award is designed to promote interest in children’s and young adult literature, and in children’s rights, globally. An expert jury selects the winners from candidates nominated by institutions and organizations worldwide. The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is administered by the Swedish Arts Council. Last year’s winner was Barbro Lindgren.