2017 marks the highest milestone of South African Literary Awards (SALA), as the shortlist includes, for the first time, the !Xam and !Kun languages. Listed under the Posthumous Literary Awards, five legendary contributors are drawn from Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd collection of !Xam and !Kun narratives, verses, songs, chants, drawings and other materials consisting of over 150 notebooks running in some 13 000 pages which is considered a unique cultural and literary collection which has been recognised by United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Council (UNESCO) and entered into the memory of the World Register.
The materials deal with the land, the rain, the history of the first people, the origin of the moon and stars, animals, cosmology, beliefs, ceremonies, art and information of the individual lives of the informants who had come to Cape Town as prisoners of the British Crown and were released into Bleek’s custody at his residence in Mowbray for linguistic and cultural research.
Also interesting is the shortlist list under the Translators Literary award consisting of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873–1888), D.L.P. Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems and The Thirstland Trek: 1874–1881. The Creative Non-Fiction Award has The Keeper Of The Kumm: Ancestral Longing And Belonging Of A Boesmankind by Sylvia Vollenhoven, My Own Liberator by Judge Dikgang Moseneke and Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier by Elsabé Brits.
The shortlist goes on to list under the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award, South Africa’s legendary 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’s assassination, load shedding and
the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. Mutwa shares the category with other literary stalwarts, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele, who is revered for her Sepedi works and Etienne van Heerden, an academic and prolific Afrikaans author.
“Indeed, as its main aim, SALA continues to strive to become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature”, says Ms Sindiswa Seakhoa, director at wRite associates, founders of SALA, in partnership with the department of Arts and Culture in 2005.
Since its inception in 2005, to date, SALA has honoured 160 authors in 11 categories in all official South African languages. SALA also boasts legacy programmes including:
- The National Poet Laureate Programme and the Keorapetse Kgositsile Lecture,
in honour of the Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile
- The Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club, in honour of the late Miriam Tlali.
- Band of Troubadours, a publication comprising the work of the SALA recipients
- Africa Century International African Writers Conference and International African
Writers Day Lecture, established in 2012.
The conference is set to become a Mecca of who is who of the African literati, the Diaspora and the entire globe where the celebration of African letters occupies centre stage.
This historical gathering of literary intellectuals and authors from across the world, is, as the then-OAU’s Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture (meeting in Coutonou, Benin, in 1991) resolved, “… to afford the African people a moment of pause within which to reflect on the contribution of African Writers to the development of the Continent”.
Both the 2017 South African Literary Awards ceremony and Conference will take place on the 7th November at Kgorong Building, UNISA. This is partnership by the wRite associates, the department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, UNISA.
The theme for the conference is “The Writer as a Drum Major of Conscience, Restoration & Transformation”, with the sub-theme being “The Establishment of the South African Writers Organization”. Prof Zodwa Motsa, a Fulbright Scholar, a Researcher, Writer and Social Engineer, who has served as Head of the Department: English Studies (UNISA) from 2006–2011 and currently serving as the Country Director at UNISA’s Ethiopia Centre for Graduate Studies in Addis Ababa, since 2012, will deliver the 6th International African Writers Day Lecture and Prof Nhlanhla Maake, an academician, novelist, dramatist, literary critic, and language activist will deliver the response.
Prof Andries Oliphant, author, poet, literary scholar and cultural policy advisor, will lead the seminar on the establishment of South Africa’s writers’ organization.