Koleka Putuma Photographer/ Elelwani Netshfhire

Koleka Putuma was recognised as a Rising Star at the South African Mbokodo Awards 2017.

On the 9th of August 1956, over 20 000 women marched in unison to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over a petition to the then South African prime minister Hans (JG) Strijdom. The petition was against the introduction of pass laws that were being enforced where women were concerned. As they were doing their march, one of the songs that the women sung was the resistance song, ‘Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo’ (you strike the women, you strike the rock).

In 2012, the Mbokodo Awards, picking the rally from 1956, was founded to recognise South African women who had shown leadership, fostered growth and made efforts to strengthen the arts. The Mbokodo Awards are chosen from 12 categories: Rising Light; Traditional and Indigenous Art; Visual Arts; Literature; Theatre; Opera; Mbokodo Humanitarian Award; Architecture; Music; Women in Media; Film and Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards have recognised many women in South African arts like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Lauren Beukes, and Mbali Vilakazi.

The class of 2017 were announced on December 11, and they included a name that we have featuring a lot on this blog this year; Koleka Putuma. The poet whose debut collection Water blew award the African literary scene changing the way that a poetry collection could be viewed. The poet was announced as a “Rising Star.”

Speaking about the recognition on her Facebook, Koleka said;

“Honored to have been announced as the winner of the Rising Star award Saturday night at the Mbokodo Awards. The category identifies young women with the potential to make a significant contribution, not just to the art world, but to women’s struggles more broadly. Blessed to have even been nominated in the first place, along some of the most amazing womxn! Thank you to the panel and Carol Bouwer productions for seeing me & recognising the #CollectiveAmnesia journey.”

Great news from a poet who has had year never to forget.