Joining Bridget Kendall and a lively audience at the Zamyn Cultural Forum 2013, at the Tate Modern Art Gallery, London were: Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo, Indian political scientist Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri.
NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of the novel We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus, 2013). Her stories have won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 and shortlisted for the J.M. Coetzee – judged 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award. NoViolet was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and moved to the US aged 18. She earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship, and most recently, a lecturer of English. She is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.
NoViolet says that when you leave your own country, who you are can never be the same again; however she does think it is becoming easier for each successive generation to pick up and move.
Pratap Bhanu Mehtais president of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He is a member of the Indian government’s National Security Advisory Board and the World Economic Forum’s Global Governance Council. He has taught at Harvard, Jawaharlal Nehru University and New York University School of Law, and is an editorial consultant and columnist for the Indian Express. In 2011, he was awarded the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences – Political Science and International Relations.
Pratap believes that globalisation has changed the way India sees itself for the better; and that while there are always winners and losers, there is a feeling of hope amongst the poorest of the poor in his country about the increased economic opportunities globalisation is bringing.
Ben Okri is a poet, novelist and writer. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa. He won the Booker Prize in 1991 for his novel The Famished Road. He is a vice-president of the English Centre of International PEN and was presented with a Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. He was born in Nigeria and lives in London.
Ben has written an essay for the Cultural Forum 2013, in which he argues for a new language of globalisation, one which truly reflects its effects on ordinary people, and which could better describe and therefore unlock its negative and positive aspects.
This edition of The Forum was aired on BBC World Service radio Sunday 16 June.
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Image copyright Tate, photography by Ana Escobar