Friday, November 28, 2008

Zimbabwe playwright and Mugabe critic wins award

LONDON (Reuters) – Zimbabwean playwright Cont Mhlanga, who has challenged President Robert Mugabe's rule throughout his career, has been awarded a new prize celebrating the role the arts can play in promoting human rights.

Mhlanga has seen his last two plays, both political satires, banned by the authorities, and welcomed the award as a morale booster and security blanket in a country where he says he is not safe.

"It's not that safe," said the playwright, who would not give his age but described himself as "just an old man."

"I always live by being very careful," he told Reuters by telephone from Zimbabwe. He did not to fly to London to receive the prize this week, partly because there was not enough time.

"What saved me is that I've always focused on hard-hitting issues without touching the political side. I hope this award gives me global exposure, as that in itself gives me safety."

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