The award of the Peace Prize does not have to be peaceful, exchange of views and disputes are part of this decidedly political journalism prize.

Nevertheless, it was a novelty that this Sunday morning, right at the beginning of the ceremony for this year's award winner Tsitsi Dangarembga, someone else unannounced took center stage: the Frankfurt city councilor Mirrianne Mahn.

The urban consultant for diversity development boarded the lectern in the Paulskirche, interrupted the welcoming address of her Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann against his gentle resistance and gave a flaming statement on the dispute over the presence of right-wing publishers at the book fair.

Andreas Platthaus

Editor in charge of literature and literary life.

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Mahn, Green politician and black activist, jumped in on the author Jasmina Kuhnke, who had canceled her trade fair appearance on the grounds that, as a black woman, she could not feel safe there in view of the Young Europe publishing house represented. Juergen Boos, director of the book fair, defended his participation with reference to freedom of expression. During her intervention, Mahn said that freedom of expression was not the decisive question: "The paradox is that here in the Paulskirche we give a black woman the peace prize and black women were not welcome at the book fair."

Feldmann had previously stated that he had read that fear prevailed because of the adherence to freedom of expression, which is why he had to remind people of the other basic rights: First and foremost in the Basic Law is the inviolability of human dignity. "In the coming year I want all of these authors to be able to come to Frankfurt without fear."

That was an open declaration of war on the book fair and thus also on the organizing exchange association of the German book trade, which awards the peace prize: Feldmann expects the exclusion of right-wing publishers or those who are publicly declared in favor of it. As we know since the last International Motor Show held in Frankfurt (which actually became the last one here), the Lord Mayor has a knack for affronting trade fair organizers. He now involuntarily proved one thing for snubbering the prize winner, because before the ceremony went on air, Martin Schult, long-time organizer of the Peace Prize for the Börsenverein, had told the audience how positive Tsitsi Dangarembka had said about the book fair as a forum for freedom of expression .

In fact, Dangarembga later sang the song of praise for the German book trade in her acceptance speech because the German book trade had decided to “honor content, words and narratives that promote a peaceful understanding of the differences we perceive between us”.

Against the traditionally individualistic and therefore dissenting exclusionary interpretation of Descartes' sentence “I think, therefore I am” in the Western understanding, Dangarembga set the African philosophy of


: “I am because you are.” Although they did not save us, why a new enlightenment is needed that changes our thought patterns “word for word”.

Conversation with, not about, one another

This, however, requires conversations with one another instead of about one another. The tension after Mirrianne Mahn's appearance was palpable, but none of the following speakers - Karin Schmidt-Friderichs as head of the Börsenverein, Auma Obama as laudator and the award winner Tsitsi Dangarembga herself - took up the provocation. In her very personal speech, Obama, a half-sister of the former American President, rather reminded that both she and Dangarembga had previously come to Germany from their African home countries (Zimbabwe near Danbarembga, Kenya near Obama) “to vote Find".

Obama described both of their positive experiences: “You have the time to see yourself because others see you as a stranger, to understand yourself because others want to define you.” So you have to get away from the familiar in order to become yourself find - "we just heard it".

Whether this only half-sentence deviating from the prefabricated speech was based on Mirrianne Mahn's statement had to remain open.

In any case, a conversation between Mahn and the award winner was difficult.

Less than a quarter of an hour after the award ceremony, another discussion round about right-wing publishers was scheduled at the book fair, in which Mahn took part.

Keywords: novelty, tsitsi dangarembga, peter feldmann, lectern, exchange, jasmina kuhnke, peace prize, freedom, someone, awarding, award, frankfurt, declaration, book trade, auma obama