The winners of the South African Literary Awards 2017 have been announced at a ceremony in Johannesburg tonight.
There was a dinner and a celebration as the South African literary industry came together to celebrate the best of the writing in that country. The writers, publishers, poets and all the rest were there to see who would be deemed the best in the South African Literary Awards popularly known as the SALAs.
The SALAs, started in 2005, have honoured 160 authors in 11 categories in all official South African languages. The award has been won by the most well-known writers in the South African literary scene. Some of the names that have won these awards since they started include Es’kia Mphahlele, Nadine Gordimer, Miriam Tlali, Lauretta Ngcobo, Keorapetse Willie kgositsile, Mongane Serote, Sindiwe Magona, Zakes Mda, Panashe Chigumadzi, Zukiswa Wanner, Sihle Khumalo, Nuruddin Farah, Yewande Omotoso, Sifiso Mzobe, Sabata Mpho Mokae, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers.
This year’s celebration followed on from an announcement of the shortlists in mid-October with entries in First-time Published Author Award, k.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award, Poetry Award, Creative Non- Fiction Award, Literary Journalism Award, Literary Translators Award, and Nadine Gordimer Short story Award. There were also the Posthumous Literary Award Author and Lifetime Achievement Literary Award to hand out.
Judah Duiker the father of k. Sello Duiker, and formerly a big star with the Moroka Swallows, for who one of the awards was being awards started by talking about his son’s love of writing. He then went onto announce the winner Nthikeng Mohlele for his book Pleasure. It’s been a good year for the Johannesburg based writer who won the University of Johannesburg Prize 2017 and was just longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2018. The author wouldn’t receive the award as he was unavailable.
“I am greatly humbled by the nomination and the shortlist. I am greatly moved by this award. I wish that I could be there but couldn’t because of work commitments. Many thanks and congratulations to all the other award winners,” Nthikeng said via his representative.
South African poet laureate Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile would then go on stage to hand out the award for poetry and this one would go to Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu and Helen Moffett. While Moffett wasn’t able to make it, Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu was on hand to receive his award. His acceptance speech was a verse and a word in his language we are still trying to translate for you. He shared the award with Hellen Moffett who gave a very poetic speech.
The Writes Associates founder Raks Seakhoa would then go on stage to hand out the creative nonfiction award. This gong would be handed to former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke for his book My Own Liberator.
“I thank SA Literary Awards. I have had any awards in my life and this somehow makes me very emotional. I am starting to work tomorrow, you all know where, and it’s going to give me the energy to go through the next few weeks,” he said as he received his award.
Prof Themba Christian Msimang, the Chairperson’s Award recipient said, “an organisation like this (SALA) which picks up these works and give them credit, is truly what South Africa needs today”. He further excited the audience when he referred to Justice Moseneke as “my fellow sufferer”, a term they used during the apartheid era when they were the first LLB black students to graduate at UNISA. He remarked at how they celebrated the outcome of their final exams prior to the release of their results. He asked his fellow students as to why they were celebrating before the results were out. They all agreed that “just being admitted and sitting at the UNISA desk, writing exams, was an achievement on its own, even if they failed”.
The Translators Literary award also stole the limelight as all the shortlisted were winners. The most excited were Pamela Maseko and Jeff Opland who went with two awards in this category for their volumes “William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888) which they co-translated with Wandile Kuse and DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems”. Bridget Theron-Bushell won for the book “The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881”.
The Lifetime Achievement Literary Award went to South Africa’s legendary sangoma and shaman, Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, who is largely respected for his predictions of world events, including the destruction of New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001, the 1976 June 16 Uprising, HIV, Chris Hani assassination, load shedding and the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. Mutwa shares the category with other literary stalwarts, Aletta Matshediso Motimele, who is revered for her Sepedi works and Etienne van Heerden, an academic and prolific Afrikaans author.
The full list of winners were;
- First-time Published Author Award – Moses Shimo Seletisha
- Creative Non-Fiction Award – Dikgang Moseneke
- Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award – Nthikeng Mohlele
- Poetry Award – Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu, Helen Moffett
- Chairperson’s Award – Themba Christian Msimang
- Lifetime Achievement Literary Award – Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele & Etienne Van Heerden
- Posthumous Literary Award Winners: |A!kunta, !Kabbo, ≠Kasin, Dia!kwain &|Han≠kass’o for honoring the work of the koi and the san.
- Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award – Roela Hattingh
- Literary Journalism Award – Don Makatile and Phakama MbonambiYou can watch the whole ceremony below.