A-dZiko Simba Gegele to be Recognized for her Contribution to Literature

(Extracted from Jamaica Observer)

Next Wednesday, 10 Jamaicans will be recognised for their contribution in literature, science and the arts during the annual Musgrave Medal awards at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston.

Entertainment and the arts feature prominently with choir conductor/musician Winston Ewart, and university lecturer/writer Dr Michael Bucknor to receive the Gold Medal. In the Bronze category, writer A-dZiko Simba Gegele and music composer Eleanor Alberga are among those who will be recognised.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Simba Gegele said she is grateful to be recognised, adding that writers and their work are largely unrewarded.

“I was astounded when I got the call. It was very unexpected and, as astounded as I was, I was at the same time equally grateful as I never expected to be honoured in this way, considering that very often our artistes are not recognised by their fellow Jamaicans. What it says is thank you and that my work has not been in vain. It also says, despite how rough it gets, people appreciate the time and effort I have put into my work and it has touched their hearts,” she said.

Simba Gegele, who won the Burt Award for her début work All Over Again in 2013, is working on three novels as a follow-up to her maiden project. First off the press will be She Same One .

However, her work as a writer is not just confined to books. Over the years, she has given life to programmes and features for radio and television, both in Jamaica as well as in the United Kingdom, where her credits include work in those mediums for the BBC. Non-governmental organisations also benefit from Simba Gegele's expertise in campaigns to educate on female sexuality and gender violence.

Despite the shortcomings of Jamaica's literary scene, she is confident the field is in good hands.

“We are still in the very early stages, but there are a lot of fantastic writers right here in Jamaica. Unfortunately, most of them get on a plane and leave in search of greater opportunities for income and exposure. With technology moving the way it is, the good thing is that that is not even necessary any more as we can stay here and enjoy the benefits of these markets. But at a certain level, our work has to be recognised, we need to be taken seriously and it must be recognised that behind every great movie, song, radio or television programme is a good writer,” she said.

The other recipients this year are Professor Emeritus Sir Godfrey “Geoff” Palmer for his contributions to the field of science, who will receive the Gold Medal. Professor Emeritus Douglas Ewart, Professor Emeritus Tara Prasad Dasgupta, and Shirley Carby will receive the Silver Award.

In the Bronze category, Dr Susan Otuokon will be awarded for her contribution to science.

In the Special Youth category, Santana Morris will be recognised for excellence in the fields of education, community development, and leadership.

The Musgrave Award was conceived in 1889 as a tribute to the organisation's founder Sir Anthony Musgrave, who was Governor of Jamaica from 1877 to 1883. The Musgrave Medal was first awarded in 1897 and is the oldest award of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

This year, the Institute of Jamaica celebrates its 138th anniversary.