The Swedish song writer and rap artist Timbuktu (Jason Diakité) has been awarded the Telenor International Culture Prize 2012 for his unique use of local language lyrics and songs, that blend folk, blues, reggae and West African styles. Fairness, tolerance, transparency and freedom of speech are at the heart of Timbuktu’s lyrics, making him the most influential, political crossover artist of the Nordic region.
The prize was also awarded to Timbuktu due to his role in founding Studio Timbuktu in 2012, in collaboration with Plan Norway, with the aim of developing talent. Studio Timbuktu gives children and youth the opportunity to record songs about issues that interest them and helps them share their opinions with a wider audience.
Timbuktu has received seven Swedish Grammy awards as well as a Nordic language award in 2011 (Foreningen Norden). He is also an active ambassador for the Swedish UN-association.
The Telenor International Culture Prize, called “Boundless Communications”, is a key component of Telenor’s extensive cultural program. The winner receives NOK 250,000.
Controversial and socially conscious
“We congratulate Timbuktu, a well deserved winner of Telenor’s International Culture Prize for 2012. Timbuktu has been a trendsetter and pioneer on the Nordic hip-hop scene for many years, using dialect and conveying a universal and even controversial message as a tool for societal change. In particular, we honour him for using his role as an artist to encourage and train young people to create better lives for themselves through his own project, Studio Timbuktu,” says Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO, Telenor Group.
“This year’s winner of the Telenor Culture Prize – Timbuktu – definitely lives up to the purpose of the prize to honour people or institutions that have bridged geographical, social and cultural borders through cultural contribution. Fairness, tolerance, transparency and freedom of speech are at the heart of Timbuktu’s lyrics. His confrontational lyrics make him unique. His songs are catchy and accessible and appeal to several generations of listeners.
A powerful stage presence over a number of years has made him our most influential, political crossover artist in the Nordic region. Many Nordic artists follow in Timbuktu’s footsteps, and his characteristic and distinctive voice has made its mark on numerous international collaborations,” says the head of the jury, Kjersti Alveberg.
”I am of course very happy and surprised by this fantastic award. To realize and express ideas is what I do, which is why I am overwhelmed that my ideas have touched my fellow people. This prize gives me increased motivation and opportunity to continue to communicate,” said Timbuktu.
The Telenor International Culture Prize – Boundless Communication – is awarded for the 17th time.
Previous award winners:
2011 – The Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra (KORK)
2010 – Olafur Eliasson, artist
2009 – Liv Ullmann, actress and film director
2008 – Jonas Bendiksen, photographer
2007 – Marilyn Mazur, percussionist, ensemble leader and composer
2006 – The International Museum of Children’s Art
2005 – Anne Marit Jacobsen, actress
2004 – Ingrid Lorentzen, dancer
2003* – the independent theatre company Verdensteatret
2001 – Ingvar Ambjørnsen, author
2000 – Juni Dahr, actress
1999 – Torun Lian, author and film director
1998 – Kari Bremnes, singer, musician and songwriter
1997 – Kjersti Alveberg, choreographer
1996 – Wenche Øyen, painter
1995 – Svein Tindberg, actor
* Between 2002 and 2003 Telenor changed the practice for dating. For press releases after 2002 the prize has been dated the same year as it was awarded. Earlier prizes were dated to the year prior to when the award took place. Therefore there are no prizes dating from 2002.
The jury of 2012: Kjersti Alveberg (choreographer and jury leader), Lars Saabye Christensen (author), Thorbjørn Harr (actor), Adil Khan (dancer and actor), Ingrid Kindem, (musician and composer), Cecilie Broch Knudsen (Principal of Oslo National Academy of the Arts) and Kai Rosenberg (Vice President Communication, Telenor Group)