Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards winners announced

Ndawedwa Denga Hanghuwo, Natasha Uys, and Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu, were declared the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards winners in Windhoek, Namibia on November 18, 2021.

Namibia’s first major literary awards, the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards were revealed to the African literary community in May this year. Organised by the good people at the Doek! Literary Magazine and sponsored by Bank Windhoek, they were to cover the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts. In July, the judging panel of Beauty Boois, Dr Coletta Kandemiri, Bruni Lubbe, and Shawn Van Eeden was introduced.

The longlist was announced on August 2 before the shortlist was revealed on September 1. The winners were announced at a gala dinner in Windhoek on Wednesday evening. As our focus is the literary, we submit the winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. They are;

Fiction

  • Silhouette by Ndawedwa Denga Hanghuwo (Issue 5: March, 2021)
Ndawedwa Denga Hanguwo
Ndawedwa Denga Hanguwo

Ndawedwa Denga Hanghuwo is a Namibian writer. He is also a student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology pursuing a degree in English Literature.

Judges’ comments: “This year’s shortlist bristled with stories with Namibian flavours, writing which cleverly incorporated the country’s indigenous languages, its landscapes, and its familiar social settings. One short story explored sibling closeness in the face of secret loss, another traced parental absence through the eyes of a child who writes letters to a mother who never responds, and the last one takes place in a setting that is quite familiar to Namibians, Africans, and readers around the world—the global pandemic and its devastating effects. With shifting perspectives “Silhouette” showcases Ndawedwa Denga Hanghuwo’s confidence and compelling voice; the twist in this wonderful short story is a bonus that exhibits his writing acumen and willingness to push beyond the boundaries of the ordinary and it is our selection for 2021.”

Nonfiction

  • Ouma Sofie’s Gold by Natasha Uys (Issue 6: July, 2021)
Natasha Uys
Natasha Uys

Natasha Uys is a journalist and editor from Windhoek, Namibia. She is currently studying MediaManagement through the Sol Plaatje Institute at Rhodes University.

Judges’ comment: “An auralgraph curating the sounds and memories of Windhoek city life, a narration of heritage and departure involving a postdoctoral degree, and a memoir of secret family histories, motherhood, and mental health and illness—the nonfiction shortlisted presented us with writing dealing with complex themes of identity and memory. Our discussions were fierce and our deliberations were long. Natasha Uys’s Ouma Sophie’s Gold—a poignant and exemplary piece of nonfiction writing was our selection. Uys’s writing was so heartbreaking we wished the painful truths shared in her work was fictitious—but they are not, they are painfully real and dare us not to look away. Thanks to Uys’s considerable skill at writing, we could not.”

Poetry

Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu
Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu
  • Green And Greening by Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu (Issue 4: November, 2020)

Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu is a Zimbabwean-born Namibian curator and writer whose work explores the themes of land, memory, healing, time, and senescence. She is drawn to visual anthropology as a form of memory-making. Pauline has a degree in anthropology and works in the culture and development sector.

Judges’ comment: “The poetry section was difficult to judge because individual interpretations of the shortlisted works led each judge to separate conclusions about potential winners. However, we decided that the pandemic—its disruptive effects on all our lives—found resonant poetic articulation in Pauline Buhle Ndhlovu’s “Green And Greening.”She made us relive the confinement and desperation of that first lockdown in Namibia—a period which did not seem to have an end. Now, with the country and the world opening up and trying to find a new sense of movement and freedom, her words remind us that we, too, are living things.”