Nelson Mandela Lecture 2020: Elnathan John

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ZAM is proud to annouce the speaker for the 2020 ZAM Nelson Mandela Lecture: Nigerian writer, satirist and lawyer Elnathan John.

As a remarkable and dynamic voice, John is a multiple award winning author. His essays and blogs were published by The Guardian, Sunday Trust, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Economist, ZAM Magazine and Chimurenga Chronic amongst others. As an independent thinker and a witty critic of power abuse and self-aggrandizement, John (1982) is feared for his sharpness and admired for his courage and superb writing.

Elnathan John (Photo: provided)

His first novel, Born on a Tuesday, was published in 2015 by Cassava Republic and translated into German and French, followed this year by Be(coming) Nigerian. A Guide and, very recently, his first comic book in collaboration with Alaba Onajin, On Ajayti Crowther Street. Also in 2019, John was a judge of the Man Booker International Prize for Literature.

The Nelson Mandela Lecture is a ZAM initiative. Patrons Femke Halsema (Major of Amsterdam), Conny Braam (writer, former President of the Dutch Anti Apartheid Movement), Adriaan van Dis (writer), Hennah Draaibaar (producer), Marjan Goslings (former judge), Zakes Mda (writer, artist), Mpho Tutu (reverend) and Henk Wals (director of the International Institute for Social History). Nelson Mandela Lecture Ambassador Boris Dittrich (writer, senator, human rights activist).

The lecture will be part of a multi-faceted spectacle with music, dance and poetry. The programme will be announced in the 1st week of January.

  • Buy tickets here
  • Watch Sisonke Msimang’s inaugural 2019 Nelson Mandela Lecture here.


When: Sunday 1 March 2020, 15h30 
Where: International Theatre Amsterdam, Leidseplein 26, Amsterdam 
All enquiries to


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