FOLLOWING the death of Kamau Brathwaite, 89, on Wednesday, the TT Bocas Lit Fest has revealed that he will posthumously be awarded the 2020 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters. Brathwaite was a notable Barbadian writer, scholar and editor.
In a media release, organisers of the festival said Brathwaite had agreed to accept the award just days before his death. The award recognises his contribution as a literary critic, literary activist, editor and an author on topics of Caribbean literature and culture. The award was also meant to honour what would have been the year of Brathwaite's ninetieth birthday.
Brathwaite's family will be presented with the award at the annual Kamau Brathwaite Lecture on March 5, 2020. The lecture is hosed by the Cultural Studies Programme at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus. His life will also be celebrated at the tenth NGC Bocas Lit Fest which runs running from May 1 to 3 in Port of Spain.
In the release, Bocas Lit Fest founder and director Marina Salandy-Brown said, "Although the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award is not usually given posthumously, as it was offered and accepted by Prof Brathwaite shortly before he died, we will present the award as already planned at a ceremony in Barbados in March.
"It now seems even more significant to honour him and, in this time of mourning, it is a small consolation to know that news of the award brought Prof Brathwaite pleasure in his final days."
Born in 1930, Brathwaite studied at Harrison College in Barbados and won a scholarship to study history at Cambridge University. In 1963 he joined the history department at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus. He has also worked in Ghana and St Lucia.
In 1967 he released one of his most popular books of poems named Rights of Passage. The book formed part of a trilogy of books called The Arrivants which explored Caribbean history and culture from an African perspective. Parallel to his poetic works he also published a broad range of essays on topics in Caribbean history, cultural studies, and literary criticism.