Kakwenza Rukirabashaija

Ugandan novelist and author of protest literature Uganda

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija is a prominent Ugandan novelist and a practitioner of what is called “radical rudeness,” an activist tactic with roots in Uganda’s anti-colonial resistance movement. English PEN recognized him in 2021 as a Writer of Courage for his brave defiance of the dictatorship of Yoweri Museveni. He is the author of “The Greedy Barbarian,” a satirical political fiction novel about corruption and dictatorship in a fictitious African country, and “Banana Republic: Where Writing is Treasonous,” an account of the torture he was subjected to while in detention in 2020 for the publication of his first book. The 2023 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent honored Kakwenza’s talent for irreverent writing, stripping Uganda’s repressive rulers of the veneer of respectability they force upon the Ugandan people. It also honored his perseverance in telling unvarnished truths despite being repeatedly imprisoned and tortured.

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