Nigerian linguist and poet, Kola Tubosun, will join other international experts on minority languages for a special edition of the 2020 Ostana Prize for Writings in Mother Languages on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6.
The Ostana Prize is an annual prize and cultural initiative organised by the Municipality of Ostana (Italy) and by the cultural association, Chambra d’Oc. It is dedicated to languages and literary authors who use a ‘mother tongue’, a present-day minority language of territorial belonging, in their works. It began in 2008.
This year’s event, which is being streamed online for the first time in its history, will celebrate the linguistic and cultural biodiversity of humanity.
Tubosun, 2016 recipient of the Premio Ostana ‘Special Prize’ for his work in language advocacy, will have a live conversation with writer Valentina Musmeci.
The two-day event begins on Friday with addresses from Mayor of the Municipality of Ostana, Silvia Rovere and President of the Chambra d’Oc, Giacomo Lombardo.
There will also be a roll of honour featuring video clips with faces, countries and languages of the authors awarded in the 11 past editions of the Ostana Prize.
The Artistic Director of the festival, Ines Cavalcanti will, also during the opening formalities, present the special edition of the Ostana Prize, the birth of the online project as well as preparation for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032.
The day’s first lecture entitled ‘Indigenous Writings: Poets and Narrators of Central-Southern America’ would be delivered by linguistic anthropologist and Professor of General Linguistics and Ethnolinguistics at the University of Naples L’Orientale, Maurizio Gnerre.
Cheyenne poet and headman in the Brotherhood of the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers of the Native American Church, Lance David Henson, will have a conversation on ‘Cheyenne Poetry: The moment which founds the survival of a language’ with Musmeci.
Other activities scheduled for Day One of the festival includes a session called ‘Letters From Ostana’ featuring winners of various categories from the previous editions of the Ostana Prize.
There’s also a special focus comprising lectures, conversations and performances on the Occitan world including its culture, music and coping with pandemics including COVID-19. Occitan is a Romance language spoken in Southern France, Monaco, Italy’s Occitan Valleys as well as Spain’s Val d’Aran.
The second day will feature more award presentations, lectures and conversations. The first Maori author to publish both a collection of short stories, ‘Pounamu Pounamu’ (1972), and a novel, ‘Tangi’ (1973), Witi Ihimaera, will read to Italian children.
The translator and politician Lurdes Auzmendi, winner of the 2016 Translation Award, will also have a conversation on Basque language, politics and society with Maria Teresa Atorino.
Tubosun’s conversation happens by 6.30 PM on Day Two of the festival. The son of the eminent Yoruba poet, writer and publisher, Tubosun Oladapo (Odidere Aiyekooto) is expected to share about his interest in the growth, development and sustenance of the Yoruba language and other Nigerian languages.
His African brother, Mohand Tilmatine, Professor of Berber Languages and Cultures at the University of Cadiz, will later on the same day screen a documentary on the Berber-Kabyle world (Algeria).
The online edition of the festival will close with a documentary, ‘Language Matters’. Written by Bob Holman and directed by David Grubin, the documentary talks about the rapid extinction of many languages on the planet and their struggle for survival. Holman accompanies the viewer to Australia, Wales and Hawaii to reflect on the value of linguistic diversity in the world.