Press Release

For immediate release: 8th November 2017

Issued by the wRite associates

“Being recognised by your own is truly special. I have received many awards in my life, but this makes me very emotional. I am deeply grateful,” Dikgang Moseneke, author and former Deputy Chief Justice of the South African Constitutional Court, when accepting the 2017 South African Literary Awards’ Creative Non-fiction Award category for his memoir, My Own Liberator, at the 12th SA Literary Awards ceremony, 7th November, UNISA, Tshwane.

As always, SALA lived to its mantra of “…taking our literary heritage to greater heights…”.

2017 saw twenty one (21) authors in ten (10) categories and seven (7) South African languages being honoured. For the very first time, the Awards included the !Xam and !Kun, albeit being honoured posthumously, the five groundbreaking oral authors, |A!kunta, !Kabbo, ≠Kasin, Dia!kwain and |Han≠kass’o, contributors drawn from Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd’s collection of !Xam and !Kun narratives, verses, songs, chants, drawings and other materials consisting of over 150 notebooks running into some 13 000 pages, which is considered a unique cultural and literary collection recognised by United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Council (UNESCO) and entered into the Memory of the World Register.

The recipients gave moving acceptance speeches, laced with appreciation, emotions and insightful anecdotes. One such is Prof Themba Christian Msimang, the Chairperson’s Award recipient who said, “an organisation like this (SALA) which picks up these works and give them credit, is truly what South Africa needs today”. He further excited the audience when he referred to Justice Moseneke as “my fellow sufferer”, a term they used during the apartheid era when they were the first LLB black students to graduate at UNISA. He remarked at how they celebrated the outcome of their final exams prior to the release of their results. He asked his fellow students as to why they were celebrating before the results were out. They all agreed that “just being admitted and sitting at the UNISA desk, writing exams, was an achievement on its own, even if they failed”.

Simphiwe Nolutshungu, the recipient of the Poetry Award, accepted it in a very moving and harmonious song. He shared the award with Hellen Moffett who gave a very poetic speech.

The Translators Literary award also stole the limelight as all the shortlisted were winners. The most excited were Pamela Maseko and Jeff Opland who went with two awards in this category for their volumes “William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888) which they co-translated with Wandile Kuse and DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems”. Bridget Theron-Bushell won for the book “The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881”.

The Lifetime Achievement Literary Award went to South Africa’s legendary sangoma and shaman, 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 assassination, load shedding and the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. Mutwa shares the category with other literary stalwarts, Aletta Matshediso Motimele, who is revered for her Sepedi works and Etienne van Heerden, an academic and prolific Afrikaans author.

Veteran journalist, Don Makatile and Phakama Mbonambi jointly won the Literary Journalism Award.

“Indeed, as its main aim, SALA continues to strive to become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature”, says Morakabe Raks Seakhoa and Sindiswa Seakhoa, founder of the wRite associates, convenor and manager of SALA, respectively.

Since its inception in 2005, to date, SALA has honoured 182 authors in 11 categories, across all official South African languages. SALA also boasts legacy programmes, including:

  • The National Poet Laureate Programme and the Keorapetse Kgositsile Annual Lecture, in honour of the South Africa’s National Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile.
  • The Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club, in honour of the late author, Miriam Tlali.
  • Band of Troubadours, a publication comprising the work of SALA recipients
  • Africa Century International African Writers Conference and International African Writers Day Lecture, established in 2012.

2017 SOUTH AFRICAN LITERARY AWARDS SHORTLIST Category: First-time Published Author Award

Author Book title Language Position
Moses Shimo Seletisha Tšhutšhumakgala Sepedi Winner
Amy Jephta Kristalvlakte Afrikaans Runner-up
Mohale Mashigo The Yearning English Runner-up

Category: k.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

Author Book title Language Position
Nthikeng Mohlele Pleasure English Winner
Kopano Matlwa Period Pain English Runner-up

Category: Poetry Award

Author Book title Language Position
Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu Iingcango Zentliziyo isiXhosa Winner
Helen Moffett Prunings English Winner
Ronelda S Kamfer Hammie Afrikaans Runner-up

Category: Creative Non- Fiction Award

Author Boo title Language Position
Dikgang Moseneke My Own Liberator English Winner
Elsabé Brits Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier Afrikaans Runner-up
Sylvia Vollenhoven The Keeper Of The Kumm: Ancestral Longing And Belonging Of A Boesmankind English Runner-up

Category: Literary Journalism Award

Author Publications Language Position
Don Makatile His oeuvre Winner
Phakama Mbonambi His oeuvre Winner

Category: Literary Translators Award

Author Book title Language
Bridget Theron-Bushell The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881 The Thirstland Trek 1874 – 1881 Afrikaans -English Winner
Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888) isiXhosa – English Winners
Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems isiXhosa – English Winners

Category: Nadine Gordimer Short story Award

Author Book title Language
Roela Hattingh Kamee Afrikaans Winner
Nick Mulgrew Stations English Runner-up

Category: Posthumous Literary Award

Author Publications Language
|A!kunta Body of work !Xam and !Kun Winner
!Kabbo Body of work !Xam and !Kun Winner
≠Kasin Body of work !Xam and !Kun Winner
Dia!kwain Body of work !Xam and !Kun Winner
|Han≠kass’o Body of work !Xam and !Kun Winner

Category: Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Author Publications Language Position
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa Body of work English Winner
Aletta Matshedisð Motimele Body of work Sepedi Winner
Etienne Van Heerden Body of work Afrikaans Winner

Category: Chairperson’s Award

Prof Themba Christian Msimang

SALA Background

The main aim of the South African Literary Awards is to pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature, while it celebrates literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the eleven official languages of South Africa. The awards have become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature.

Selections are made from published authors whose primary input is in imaginative writing – fiction as well as creative non-fiction. The work must demonstrate good linguistic presentation, the nation’s identity, the societal values, universal truths, and cultural aesthetics, contribution to social cohesion and nation building and transcendence of time. To date, SALA has honoured one hundred and sixty one (161) recipients since its inception in 2005.

To view the full 2017 SALA shortlist:

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