Why Lions Will Never Win Confrontations With Humans?

Professor Nhlanhla Maake related a story of a father who was daily telling his children old African folk tales about the lions and their human hunters. "T
he father always told them about how the lions would have resilience, they would fight back but at the end of the story the lions were always conquered by humans. Then one day the children asked their father, 'dad, why is it that all the time the lions are the conquered and there's never a time that the hunters lose the fight?' The father looked at his children and said, 'my children, until lions learn how to write their own stories, they will never win a single confrontation with humans". That set the theme for the third installment of the South African Literary Award which took place at Vodaworld on December 8th.

Scores of South African authors, prominent and less known were honoured at this glittering event that was graced by South Africa's deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Mantobazana Botha who delivered the keynote and other distinguished guests of honour from the writing and political fraternity. There was Dr Gomolemo Mokae, Dr Malindisi from Kanyamazane, Mpumalanga Public Works MEC Madala Masuku, Timbila founder and poet Vonani Bila, Caron Communications' Busi Ziqubu, Finnish journalist and photographer Mark Waller, Department of Arts and Culture's and author Siphiwo Mahala, journalist and author Flaxman Qoopane and many other important people.

This year, contrary to two years ago when the awards were inaugurated in Polokwane and last year when they took place in Bloemfontein, there were three additional award categories. On its inaugural year there was only a lifetime achievement category that saw writers like Prof Es'kia Mphahlele, Miriam Tlali, James Matthews and many others honoured. This year a new category, the K Sello Duiker Memorial Award for Young Writers was introduced. It is in honour of the passed on author of 13Cents, The Quiet Violence of Dreams and another posthumous novel. Literary Journalism Award was also introduced and sponsored by Sowetan and the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award for Writing in African languages.

Nadine Gordimer, a Nobel Award laureate was honoured during the inaugural installment of the awards two years ago. She is now honoured through an award which only recognises writing in nine of South Africa's languages. Speaking during the awards Gordimer once again urged young writers today to ease a little bit on promoting a language that has thousands of authors scattered all over the world to promote but rather focus on their small languages which are threatened by globalisation. She does not recognise Afrikaans as an indigenous language and as such literature in it does not stand to scoop any of the awards that she dishes out.

Gordimer futher warned that it has become more imperative for Africans to embrace their own languages and to use them to express their reaction to the world around them. She said that those were called mother tongue because they are the first languages that every child heard at birth. She called for the affirmation of the official nine indigenous South African languages.

The Nadine Gordimer award went to Otty Nxumalo (69), a career educations and bureaucrat who has also published scores of novels, short stories and poetry, most notably being the authorised biography of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. According to information supplied by writesAssociates, Nxumalo holds degrees from University of South Africa, University of Zululand and Havard University and has taught in various institutions including Governor's School in New Jersey, Lesley College, Havard University and UKZN.

Mikhomazi Ngobeni (35) took home the K. Sello Duiker award for his xiTsonga writings, most notably Ndzeko wa Rixaka. His other memorable works include Hakunene Tiko ri file, Timbangi ta vutomi, Xigwitsirisi xa malovisi, Xitlati xa Vatsonga, Swihundla xa Vutomi and Mbhombela. Ngobeni was nominated in this category alongside Madams author Zukiswa Wanner and Niq Mhlongo (Dog eat Dog). Prior to the award the Judah Duiker, the late Kabelo's father delivered a heartwarming 'belated eulogy' of his son and his achievements, including that he was the first one to learn how to swim in the Duiker household.

Notable contributors to the literary landscape were honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Amongst them were Tsotsi author Athol Fugard (65), Freedom Park CEO Mongane Wally Serote (63), prolific author of The Hajji Mr Ahmed Essop (76), Kubantwana Babantwana Bam' author Sindiwe Magona, veteran wordsmith Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali (67), Stephen Gray (66), Gladys Thomas who capped her winning by reciting a poem for all the women and a few others.

Three authors shared the Literary Posthomous Award, amongst them Welcome to Our Hillbrow author Phaswane Mpe and Sipho Sepamla (The Soweto I love) and Dalene Matthee (Fiela se Kind).

The highly contested turf was the new Literary Journalism Award which was jointly won by Victor Dlamini for his book club and podcasts and veteran writer Bongani Madondo who is reported to be the only journalist to have interviewed the late Brenda Fassie for over sixty hours. Now Dlamini is quite interesting because not only is he a book worm but a serious media player. He is director of Chillibush Advertising Agency and co-director of Dlamini-Weil Communications, the big firm with the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award contract. Madondo is a feature writer for Sunday Times Lifestyle and is the author of Hot Type. Recently his works can be found in the new Empire magazine.

writesAssociates, which organises the award together with the Department of Arts and Culture and Sowetan and SABC as media sponsors announced that next year there will be another category for Television and Radio scriptwriting. While the language was not disclosed, it is only believed that the SABC mandate to the majority of the country's residency will be reflected through the criteria.

Executive Director of the awards Raks Morakabe said that he has ambitions that the awards should become as prestigious as the Nobel Award and every writer should aspire to win a South African Literary Award. Well if December 8th's event was anything to go by, they are getting there.
The programme was directed by Motsumi Makhene and entertainment provided by veteran Themba Mkhize and Friends, poetry by Mphela Makgoba, dance by African Theatre Dance Group, saxophone by Bongani Moloi and Drums by Lucas Bonoko. And the lions might be able to tell their stories of massive conquests over humans immediately humans stop writing. History is always written by the conquerers.

1 comment:

  1. Dear KasieKulture!

    We read with excitement your 12-12-07 posting about Poet Mphela Makgoba's participation in the South African Literary Awards Ceremony.

    Makgoba was a long-time theatre colleague with our company, Sanctuary Theatre, and also lived with us in Washington, DC, for almost 8 years--from about 1987 until his return to South Africa in 1995 after 31 years in exile in the USA.

    We have, however, lost touch with Makgoba, despite many attempts to contact him by mail over the years, or through colleagues who were traveling to S.A.

    Please, if you are able to advise us about how we might contact him, or get a message to him, we would be extremely grateful.

    Thank you so very much.

    Elizabeth Bruce and Michael Oliver

    Phone in Washington, DC: 202-529-3143


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