German-based journalist Trish Lorenz has won the 2021/2022 Nine Dots Prize for her essay about the immense significance of youth populations in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Now in its third edition, the $100,000 prize is awarded every two years to a 3,000-word essay that tackles societal issues, written in response to a question set by the Prize Board. The question for the third edition was: What does it mean to be young in an ageing world? The prize also entails a book deal with Cambridge University Press, says a statement issued by the Nine Dots Prize.
According to the statement, the prize money (US$100,000) enables the winner to “spend time researching, developing their ideas, and turning their essay response into a full-length book which is published by Cambridge University Press.”
The third edition saw a record 700 entries submitted from 92 countries and were judged anonymously by the Prize’s twelve-strong Board of leading academics, journalists and thinkers.
Talking about western perceptions about African countries, as shaped by western media, she terms a New York Times report “regressive” and “based on ignorance and a mix of systemic racism combined with post-colonial conceptions of superiority”.
Lorenz argues that no question of what it means to be young in the 21st century should overlook the significant youth populations of sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Focusing on Nigeria, she discusses how a new generation “is employing technological solutions to become self-sufficient and solve pan-African and global issues.”
Chair of the Nine Dots Prize Board, Professor in Greek Literature and Culture, and Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, Professor Simon Goldhill said: “The Nine Dot Prize questions allow entrants to define the terms for themselves, so that they can approach the question in the way they feel is most interesting. The Board was thoroughly convinced by Trish’s compelling and well-evidenced argument that the 2021/2022 question could only be answered in this way, and by the authenticity and rigour of her approach. We very much look forward to reading the book she will now write on the topic.”
Indian writer Annie Zaidi won the second edition of the prize for her essay, “Bread, Cement, Essay”, which was later expanded into a book published by the CUP.
The Prize is sponsored by the Kadas Prize Foundation with support from CRASSH at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Press.