The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study Writing Fellowships announced its fellows for 2020 on October 26, 2019.
The Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) is a joint initiative of the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Its purpose is to promote advanced research in the humanities and natural sciences, beyond the regular teaching and research activities at institutions of higher learning. JIAS is the first fully-fledged institute of advanced learning in Gauteng, South Africa’s political and economic heartland. Since the fellowships were introduced, some of those who have taken part are Niq Mhlongo, Fred Khumalo, Desiree Lewis, Yewande Omotoso, Zukiswa Wanner, and Maya Wegerif.
The institute has announced the fifteen people who will be taking residence in the 2020 edition and three names that stick out for followers of African literature; NoViolet Bulawayo, Simphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, and Malebo Sephodi. For those unfamiliar with these individuals, here is a bit about them.
NoViolet Bulawayo is an award-winning writer whose novel, We Need New Names, has won numerous prestigious awards and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. Bulawayo plans to use the JIAS fellowship to work on her novel titled Glory, which centres around what she describes as the unexpected fall of a long-serving leader of a fictional country and the drama that follows. Bulawayo adds that Glory is inspired by the unexpected fall by coup, in November 2017, of Zimbabwe’s long-serving president, Robert G. Mugabe.
Simphiwe Gloria Ndlovu is the 2019 winner of the prestigious Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for her novel, The Theory of Flight. Ndlovu plans to use the time as the 2020 JIAS Writing Fellow to work on her fourth novel tentatively titled The Creation of a Half-Broken People. As Ndlovu describes it, the novel is about Elizabeth Chalmers, a Coloured woman who knows that she is spiritually possessed by an African woman who died with unfinished business that she wants to settle.
Malebo Sephodi is an award-winning author, community development worker and an interdisciplinary scholar. Her book, Miss Behave, won her the South African Literary Awards First-Time Published Author Prize in 2018. Sephodi plans to use her stay at JIAS to put together a collection of essays that will interrogate Black women as state and non-state actors and their impact on international relations and how this can shape knowledge production. This collection of essays follows the lives of a selection of Black women and events (such as Leyman Gbowee, Joyce Banda, Wangari Maathai, Nigerian women’s war, Winnie Mandela, Lauretta Ngcobo, Pumzile Mlambo, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chibok girls, Rwanda and gender) from Africa throughout history and write them as frameworks to discuss the impact they have had on global politics.
You can read more about all those who were selected for this year’s fellowship by clicking here.