By Kanya Mbuzane

Following an exhaustive process of adjudication, the South African Literary Awards (SALA) is proud to announce the short list for its 2021 edition.

The list reflects the leaps and bounds the country has taken since the inaugural ceremony held at the Durban International Convention Centre, Kwa-Zulu Natal, on the 5th March 2005 in honour of South Africa’s world-renowned scholar, author, eminent yet unsung poet of majestic epics and literary genius, Prof. Mazisi Kunene. In the same year in December, SALA held another watershed ceremony, in Polokwane, Limpopo Province celebrating ten (10) literary heavyweights and luminaries who shone the torch for many years under often difficult circumstances. These included Es’kia Mphahlele, Noni Jabavu, Ellen Khuzwayo,Nadine Gordimer, Denis Brutus, James Matthews, T.N Maumela, Miriam Tlali, E.S. Madima and Modikoe Dikobe.

This year’s diverse short list speaks to the United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) declaration of the next decade as the global Decade of Indigenous Languages. In response to UNESCO’s declaration, SALA found it interesting that “…book publishers responded with tangible investment in mother tongue literature that speaks to mother tongue preservation challenges facing the global south…”

Out of the record 440 submissions ever received, 33 titles made it to the shortlist, under the following categories and languages:

1.            First Time Published Award shortlist

  • Rešoketšwe Manenzhe – Scatterlings
  • Ryan Pedro – Pienk ceramic-hondjies
  • Lynthia Julius – Uit die kroes

2.            Youth Literature Award

  • Thembinkosi Mathidane Mabaso – Ngenxa Yezinduna
  • Kobate John Sekele – Mararankodi Mafelelo
  • Pamela Newham – The Boy and the Poacher’s Moon
  • Sipho Richard Kekezwa – Ubomi, ungancama!
  • Jan Vermeulen – Baster

3.            K.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

  • Lihle Sokapase – Yapatyalaka Ibhobhile
  • Karen Jennings – An Island
  • Brian Fredericks – As die Cape Flats kon praat 

4.            Children’s Literature Award

  • Andre Trantaal – Keegan & Samier: Die sokkerfiasko
  • Matina Genkova-Mpofu – Thingamagic

5.            Poetry Award

  • Floyd Rito Makondo – Ndzeko wa Vutshila
  • Tshepiso Makgoloane – Tša maAfrika
  • Johann de Lange – Die meeste sterre is lankaal dood
  • Ayanda Billie – KwaNobuhle Overcast
  • Kgwadi Kgwadi Gladwell – Ithuteng Mogolokwane
  • Babalwa Fatyi – Hlahl’indela Nohombile
  • Nndanduleni Mulaudzi – Khonadzeo

6.            Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

  • Nakanjani Sibiya – The Reluctant Storyteller: A collection of Short Stories
  • Madoda Ndlakuse – Mhla latsh’iBhayi

7.            Creative Non-Fiction Literary Award

  • Sabata-mpho Mokae and Brian Willan – Sol Plaatjie: A Life in Letters
  • Mzoli Mavimbela – Masibuyel’embo Konakele Phina Na?

8.            Novel Award

  • Fred Khumalo – Ngenxa yeMendi
  • Ezra Mcebisi Nkohla – Zajik’izinto
  • Sipho Richard Kekezwa – Ziyakhamana
  • Jaco Fouche –Aanspreeklikheid

9.            Literary Translators Award

  • Xolisa Guzula – UFaizel Neenkwenkwezi
  • Jeff Opland and Peter T.Mtuze – Iimbali Zamandulo: Stories of the past (1838-1910)

Literary Journalism Award, which in the past has been awarded to outstanding luminaries such as Bongani Madondo, Karabo Kgoleng, Victor Dlamini, Don Makatile, Sam Mathe and others, will be announced during the award ceremony on 7thNovember 2021. It is an Award that celebrates South Africans who through their writing and broadcasting have contributed to the development of literature and a culture of reading.

Other accolades to be announced at the ceremony are the Chairperson’s Award, Lifetime Achievement Literary Award and the Regional Poet Laureate Prize. The Regional Poet Laureate Prize is a new addition to the basket of accolades that SALA honours literary figures with. It is exclusive to poets based in different parts of the country.

Due to Covid restrictions, the SALA ceremony, like the one in 2020, will be held virtually on the International African Writers’ Day, 7th November 2021.

Preceding the SALA Awards ceremony will be the 9th Africa Century International African Writers Conference (ACIAWC), 9H00 to 16H00 under the theme: “Decolonised Literary Arts, Culture, Heritage and Expression in Times of Pandemic Crises: Celebrating the International Year of Creative Economy and Sustainable Development”.

Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa (UNISA), will deliver the 9th International African Writers Day Lecture, and the respondent will be Dr Asante Lucy Mtenje, Associate Professor – Department of English, University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

The award ceremony will follow at 19H00 to 20H30

For more information please visit www.sala.org.zaand www.africacenturyconference.co.za