|Lifetime Achievement Literary Award|
| Luli Callinicos’ literary career had its origins in her activism. A member of the Congress of Democrats in her youth, Luli began to write letters to the newspaper as part of a concerted campaign against the apartheid regime before and after the ANC was banned. She also wrote short articles for Fighting Talk, a journal edited by Ruth First.
In 1974 Luli first began to publish labour history articles, translated into isiZulu, for the Durban-based workers’ newspaper, Abasebenzi as an extension of her participation in worker education.
In the wake of the student uprising in 1976, Luli became part of the educational team that wrote for People’s College, a supplement for The World newspaper. She produced a weekly double-page spread on alternative history for eighteen months before it was banned in October 1977 following the death of Steve Biko.
From January 1978 Callinicos was based at Wits University’s History Workshop, working as a research fellow and public historian. The work that she had written for The World formed the basis of her first book, Gold and Workers, which was published in 1981.
In 1987 she published her second in the series A People’s History of South Africa. This was Working Life: Factories, Townships and Popular Culture, which won the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa for 1988.
Five years later, the third in the series appeared. A Place in the City: the Rand on the Eve of Apartheid continued the approach of chronicling of the lives of ordinary people, their resilience and their creative responses to a hostile environment. Their biographies also demonstrated the ways that grand, major forces of history – colonialism, dispossession, industrialisation, urbanisation and apartheid – affected the day-to-day lives of the working poor.
In 1992 Luli also produced a booklet for the Civic Association for the Southern Transvaal on the biography of Sam Ntuli, trade unionist and community leader, who was assassinated in the eighties. In addition to more academic journal articles and also more popular history pieces for the South African Labour Bulletin, Callincos also co-wrote a labour history education book for COSATU members.
In 1992 she was commissioned by Oliver Tambo to write his biography and began to work with him three months before he passed away in April 1993 – just a fortnight after the murder of Chris Hani. The biography took her more than ten years to research and write. In 1994 she co-wrote, with Chris van Wyk, the biography of OR Tambo for the series, They Fought for Freedom.
In the meantime, from 1995 to 1998 she also became involved in heritage in the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, writing a number of policy papers and memos on redressing the heritage landscape of South Africa. In 1996 she was appointed Council member of the National Monuments Council (later to become the South African Heritage Resources Agency). In December 2000, she was appointed as a Trustee for Freedom Park, a national Legacy Project.
In that same year, as part of a fund-raising effort to subsidise the Tambo biography, Callinicos published The World that made Mandela: a Heritage Trail. The biography, Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains, was finally published in 2004, and was awarded a Special Commendation by the Noma Awards and was shortlisted in the Alan Paton Awards. Luli Callinicos sits on the boards and councils of the Freedom Park Trust, the National Heritage Council, the Khanya College Workers Library and Museum and the South African History Archives.
She was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award in 2008 by the South African Literary Awards.