30 September 2021
SOAS Honorary Margaret Busby was presented with the 2021 London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday 23 September at The Hurlingham Club, Fulham, London.
Author Bernadine Evaristo, the 2019 Booker Prize winner and one of the contributors to the Busby edited New Daughters of Africa anthology, presented Margaret with the award.
Professor Fareda Banda was in attendance at the event and said:
“Margaret gave a wonderful retrospective of a phenomenal life including her co- founding of a publishing house. Many members of the publishing industry and many wonderful Black authors were there. I was in full fan-girl mode so managed to get Bernadine Evaristo to sign copies of Girl, Woman, Other and Margaret to sign copies of New Daughters of Africa. My motto is, when going to a literary event, go prepared to meet your heroines and I was weighted down with books. The phenomenal Ellah Wakatama, Chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing , editor at large at Canongate Press and a contributor to the New Daughters anthology was there. In 2019 Ellah signed a ten year agreement with SOAS to co-host the Caine Prize. The winner this year was Meron Hadero, a US based Ethiopian lawyer turned novelist. Also present were Dr Chibundu Onuzo whose new book Sankofa was published this summer and which was, coincidentally, next on my reading list. She taught African history at SOAS in 2018-19. I met many new people and spent time with Patrice Lawrence, a writer of children’s fiction. We talked about diversity in children’s literature and the improving landscape. She has won many prizes and is featured in this year’s Africa Writes programme hosted by the Royal Africa Society. It was a lovely sunny day and we spilled out onto the lawn outside.”
Margaret Busby OBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure in Britain and around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she graduated from Bedford College, London University, before becoming Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has written drama for BBC radio and the stage.
In 2019, SOAS launched the The Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award offering an award worth £20,000 for black, female students ordinarily resident in Africa to study an MA in African Literature at SOAS University of London.