Ondjaki receives the Vergílio Ferreira 2023 Award
The writer Ondjaki received the Vergílio Ferreira Award on the same day he met with students from the University of Évora. According to the Dean of the UÉ, Hermínia Vasconcelos Vilar, this "is a moment of great joy because we are honoring a great writer who uses the Portuguese language and reinvents it," she said at the award ceremony held on March 1, in the faculty room of the Espírito Santo College, attended by the Angolan Ambassador to Portugal, Carlos Alberto Fonseca, among others.
In a completely full room in order to listen to the Angolan writer Ondjaki, Hermínia Vasconcelos Vilar said that "with this award the University of Évora commits itself and assumes the commitment of looking literature and literary studies as a central element of its activity and of the training it provides, as the University responsible for the training of young generations of citizens and, we hope, of readers", she said, leaving the gratitude to the writer "and to all those who have been forming me, through all these experiences that reading has allowed me," she added.
For Antonio Sáez Delgado, UÉ professor and president of the jury, Ondjaki's work is "a song to African identity and to the formidable cultural energy of that continent. To the professor of the Department of Linguistics and Literature, the writer now awarded, "is also a plural alternative of interpreting the reality of history through fiction. An alternative that, as he stressed, "is an appeal to individual and social responsibility, transforming the Portuguese language into a language of reconciliation. The same professor also stressed that "Ondjaki's literature creates critical sense in the reader and creates bridges between different countries. Present at the ceremony, the Ambassador of Angola in Portugal, Carlos Alberto Fonseca considered this moment "a reason for satisfaction and joy to be given to an Angolan writer," a name "highlighted in the letters that has made known much of our reality and our values through literature, whose work has been translated into many languages that has allowed Angola to the world.
Ondjaki, in his speech, and later in statements to journalists, called for dialogue, "between our countries that have to continue with greater openness given the historical and cultural characteristics of each country ..." Thus, he said "Angola can respect Brazil and Portugal can respect Guinea (...), in the sense that we have to let others speak. We all have a preconceived idea about the other and when we listen to the other we must redo this pre-conceived idea" considered the award winner appealing for a greater understanding and union.
Before the ceremony to award the Vergílio Ferreira prize, Ondjaki met with students from UÉ where the writer showed his sense of humor and proved to be an excellent storyteller to the delight of those present.
The jury, in its assessment, highlighted "the contribution that Ondjaki makes so that the Portuguese language is a language of reconciliation and even of critical consciousness for all Portuguese speakers," UÉ added. Established by the UÉ in 1996 to honor the writer after whom it is named, the Vergílio Ferreira Award is designed to annually recognize the body of literary work of a Portuguese-speaking author in the fields of fiction and/or essays.
Ondjaki is the literary pseudonym of Ndalu de Almeida. His works include poems, such as "Actu sanguíneu", short stories, including "Momentos de aqui", children's books, such as "A bicicleta que tinha moustodes", or novels, including "Quantas madrugadas tem a noite" and "Bom dia, camaradas".