Thursday, November 15, 2012

Writes Associates Honours Writers at SALA Awards

By: Flaxman Qoopane (below)

I was proud to attend the 7th annual South African Literary Awards (SALA) during the Africa Century International African Writers Conference, at the Callie Human Hall, University of the Free State. Bloemfontein on 10 November 2012, I had an opportunity to interview some of the winners.

Fanie Naude from Cape Town, writes as S.J Naude, he won the First Time Published Author Awards, for his short stories. Alphabet Van Die Voels (Alphabet of the Birds) in Afrikaans. He personally told me that; “Being a winner in SALA awards means there is a public recognition of writing that is not in English, it gives me great joy”.

Sonja Loots from Cape Town received the K. Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award for her Afrikaans novel Sirkusboere. She personally told me: “Sello’s death was a great loss to me, but it was also ironically-a new beginning. My sadness that we lost him made me decide to write, which is what he told me to do all along.

“Receiving the awards complete a circle. He was there right at the beginning and now once again. I thank him wherever he is for inspiration and friendship. After his death I was glad that there was an award in his honour. I thought of working very hard, and if I am lucky maybe, I can win it one day. And my dream became a reality”.

Nhlanhla Maake also took the K. Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award for his Sesotho novel-Manong a Lapile. He personally told me that; “Taaanki! Ke a leboha!”.

The Literary Translator Award, English to Afrikaans was given to Francois Smith from Cape Town, he personally told me that; “I translated David Kramer’s Biography from English to Afrikaans- David Kramer: n Biografie, I am overjoyed, it is a very important incentive to me.”

Hannes Haasbroek from Bloemfontein took the Creative Non-Fiction Award for his Afrikaans book, n Seun Soos Bram (A son like Bram) He personally told me that; “Dit is ’n wonderlike geleentheid om die prys te kom wen na al die harde werk en al die navoring wat in die Braam Fischer book ingegaan het”.

Mclntosh Polela from Gauteng was honoured with the Creative Non-Fiction Award for his English book, My father, My Monster. He personally told me that; “This is the closing of what has been a great year for me. It is only my first book, it is a best seller, nominated for three awards and winning one. It’s a remarkable and humbling achievement”.

The Lifetime Achievement Literary Award was given to Ndivhudzanni Emelina Sigogo (63) from Ngwenani Ya Thomeli Village, Thohoyandou in Limpopo, for her Tshivenda novel Nandi Shenga (Am I a Tattoo). She personally told me that; “I feel great and honoured by the award. I feel encouraged to write more. I have published more than fifteen novels, drama and short stories”.

During the ceremony Sebenzile Yolanda Vilakazi (63) from Groutville Stanger in Kwazulu Natal received the Chairperson’s Award, on behalf of her late father Bambatha Wallet Vilakazi, academic, novelist, poet and researcher. Sebenzile personally told me that; “My father was born on 6 January 1906 at Groutville and he died on 26 October 1947 in Johannesburg. On 26 October 2012, the writes Associates invited me to attend the S.A Literary Awards. On 10 November, I celebrated my 68 birthday.

“My father studied at the Wits University in Johannesburg, he completed his Honours in Zulu. He did his Masters and his Doctorate at the same University. He was a researcher, poet, novelist, he published a Zulu to English dictionary; he published three books. I was three years old when my father died. My mother Nomsa E. Vilakazi died in July 2012.

“My late dad had the projection to the future, it is 65 years since he died, he is not dead, people still write about him much in Isizulu. I would like to request that one of the buildings at Wits University must be named after my father. He had overcome the barriers, he convinced the whites to admit black students at Wits University. He honoured Isizulu; Isizulu must be spoken by the Zulu, Isixhosa must be spoken by the Xhosa. My father’s work has been translated into other languages. People must write so that these other nations must admire our languages”.

During the occasion, Story telling was presented by Ikeogu Oke and backed by Pops Mohamed. Oke told me that; “I presented a folklore - The Lion and the Monkey. I sang the song from the Ibo culture in Nigeria as I tell the folktale. There are three lessons in the story, it is trust and gratitude, the other lesson is infused into the song where it talks about being careful about accepting things that are supposedly free - they might be a trap.

“I was free, maybe not be free after all as the lion discovered, where he realises in fact that the meat was bait by a hunter to entrap any animal that attend to eat”.

Olufemi & The Natives, a Nigerian band based in Johannesburg performed songs like Iba, Orimi, Lady (by Fela Kuti) and Africa Unite. Olufemi Ogunkoya personally told me that; “It is great that we are performing at the SALA awards, by inviting the Nigerian born band, it means there is love of music and literature shared by the South Africans and the Nigerians”.

The highlight of the ceremony was when one of the country’s top musicians, Vusi Mahlasela and his band took the stage. He played songs like Mmalo-we by the late Jabu Khumalo; like Thabo o wa nyalwa, including his song-The Spirit of Moshoeshoe; and the audience and the music lovers danced and sang along with Mahlasela.

Belinda Van Zwyndrecht acoustic, bass guitarist and percussionist from Bloemfontein backed by Malcolm Aberdean, bass guitarist and percussionist performed songs about life, country and people these include African Dancer, Freedom and Lied Van Lewens.

Chris Mapane, one of the best comedians in South Africa impressed the audience with his comedy.

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