Oswald Mtshali SALA 2007
Mbuyiseni Mtshali
Lifetime Achievement Literary Award
 Dr Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali, author, academic, and lexicographer came to Soweto after high school from KwaBhanya on the banks of Blood River eNcome. His aim was to enroll at Wits University , Johannesburg but was rejected by this institution because of apartheid Separate Universities Act of 1959.While working as a labourer in the city he studied privately. He finished a diploma with Premier School of Journalism and Authorship, an affiliate of London University , set up by top Fleet Journalist Garry Allighan. In his spare time Mtshali wrote a profusion of poetry and some newspaper articles for local papers. In 1962 the Star published one of the pieces, “Ritual Slaughter in Soweto .”In 1971 a collection of his poems, Sounds of a Cowhide Drum was published by Renoster Books which was owned and edited by noted poet and literary critic the late Lionel Abrahams.

In 1973 the English Academy of Southern Africa awarded Mtshali the Olive Schreiner Poetry Prize. In the same year he was invited and received the London Poetry International Prize. This led to a tour of Australian universities with Aboriginal writer and critic Gloria Brennan.

A breakthrough in 1974 came with an extended study stay at the International Writers’ Program at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States .

At the end of the programme he was admitted as an undergraduate at the New School of Social Research in New York City ..

On graduation he enrolled at the Writing Division, School of the Arts and Science, Columbia University in the City of New York , from which he graduated with a Master Fine Arts – MFA degree in Creative Writing (Poetry).

He moved over to Teachers College for Master’s in Education degree in TESOL – Teaching English as a Second Language. After returning home from 1981 to 1986 Mtshali worked as deputy-headmaster and English teacher at Pace Commercial College in Soweto of which he was a founder member of staff.

The aim of the institution was to teach vital achievement skills to underprivileged children from Soweto and beyond.

From 1987/8 Mtshali was a Director of Communications at the South African Council of Churches – SACC in Johannesburg, a position for which he was interviewed and appointed by the late Dr Beyers Naude who was later succeeded by Reverend Frank Chikane.

Together with Reverend Sol Jacob, Mtshali co-edited “Refugees in Southern Africa , 1987.” an SACC publication. He left the country in 1988 to pursue further studies for a doctorate in Applied Linguistics at the Department of Language, Literature and Social Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University . He earned the doctorate in June 12, 1998.

After that he taught at several local schools and institutions of higher education in the United States until his return to South Africa in 2007. He is currently a lexicographer and a member of isiZulu Dictionary Board which is responsible for the updating and compilation of the isiZulu lexicon.

In 2007 Dr. Mtshali received the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award bestowed by the Department of Arts and Culture in conjunction with wRite Associates.

Current works in progress involve the translation of Romeo and Juliet into isiZulu. He is also compiling and editing published newspaper articles and columns with the aim of producing an anthology. Future projects include collecting and recording isiZulu folk songs and sacred music including Latin from a very Old Catholic hymn and prayer book.

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