Abdul Razak Kurna is the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, it was announced on Thursday. He received the award for “explaining the effects of colonialism” and is considered one of the most influential post-colonial writers from Africa.
Late on Thursday, SVT meets him at his home in English Canterbury.
The writer, who was pleasantly surprised, first thought it was a joke when the Swedish Academy called him.
– I could not believe it, I thought he was a joker. It’s absolutely unbelievable, I feel so proud and so honored, says Kurna to SVT.
“Incredibly Dangerous Journeys”
Born in Tanzania, Kurna came to England in the late 1960s. When asked how things have changed for immigrants since then, he replies that it doesn’t look any different.
– Sometimes you think the situation of immigrants is better now, sometimes it seems that it is right. In my life, I am a retired educator, he gets respect and can write. You hear stories about how young people make incredibly difficult and dangerous journeys, like I did decades ago. It seems that not much has changed since then.
“Roughness in treatment”
The 73-year-old has been a vocal critic of Britain’s immigration policy in several interviews during the day.
“The government now seems undesirable in treating people seeking asylum in this country,” he told Reuters.
– It is amazing that people fleeing misery want to come to a prosperous country. Why would that be surprising? Who does not want to come to a prosperous country? There is a certain cruelty in that treatment, he says.
Kurna, who was born in Zanzibar, says immigrants do not come empty-handed, but want to work. He expressed amazement at their determination and courage to leave their home countries to create a new life.
– Somehow it is structured immorally – you know they use the phrase “economic refugee” – it’s like some kind of crime, he says and continues:
For hundreds of years, millions of Europeans have left their home countries for that reason and have occupied other parts of the world for that reason.
According to Kurna, Brexit has revealed a “special rudeness” in Britain: another story about foreign immigrants is hidden behind the referendum.
Compassion instead of barbed wire
He hopes Europe will reconsider its asylum reception. Kourna makes it clear that he does not support “free for all” immigration but opposes anti-immigrant and misrepresentation.
– This talk of a response to compassion rather than a barbed wire and the destruction of Europe, he says.
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