The winners of the 2017 South African Literary Awards (SALAs) have been announced.
The SALAs are awarded annually by the wRite Associates and the Department of Arts and Culture to celebrate literary excellence in all the languages of South Africa.
JRB Editorial Advisory Panel member Nthikeng Mohlele was awarded the K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award for his novel Pleasure.
This was the second big prize for Mohlele’s Pleasure, which won the University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African Writing in English for the book in August. The book was yesterday longlisted for the world’s richest annual literary prize, the International Dublin Literary Award.
Mohlele could not attend the ceremony owing to work commitments, but said in a message that he was ‘greatly touched and humbled’ by the nomination and ‘greatly moved’ by the award.
Juda Duiker, former well-known professional soccer player and K Sello Duiker’s father, made a touching speech ahead of the announcement of the award named in honour of his son. Duiker died tragically young in 2005, aged just thirty, and the two novels he completed during his lifetime, Thirteen Cents and The Quiet Violence of Dreams, are considered among the most important works of South Africa’s transition.
My name is Juda ‘Bel-Air’ Duiker, the prolific goal scorer of Moroka Swallows—then! Something strange has happened to Moroka Swallows. When I was playing we were in the professional division. For sixty-eight we were a professional team. Year sixty-nine, we were relegated to the First Division. Year seventy, we were relegated to Motsepe League. Year seventy-one, I don’t know where we are playing. Somewhere in the dusty streets of Soweto.
Sello Duiker is my son, he’s my firstborn. I have three sons, and something strange happened as they were growing up. When all the boys were playing outside, Sello would start playing with them, but in no time he would disappear. His mum was the one who always knew where to find him, hiding somewhere in his room, reading. When we used to go out, because we were an outgoing family then, with the children, we would go to the mall, have a meal, and afterwards we would browse around. The other two boys would look for trainers, would look for tracksuits. Where’s Sello? Missing again. And where do you find him? Somewhere in the bookshop. He was an avid reader, and I as a father thought the second generation of footballers would come from my three boys. But then what happened? We ended up with a writer.
I’ve got three grandchildren, all daughters, I hope to develop one or two of them to eventually play for Banyana Banyana. But the first one has already showed signs of Sello. She reads at a very tender age.
During the dark days in the townships when we all were grappling with the idea of taking our children to the so-called Model C schools, we were very reluctant. But in no time, Sello came to us with an application form that he has been accepted at Redhill High School. We had nothing to do with it. That was the kind of person he was.
I wish to thank the SALA for awarding Sello with this prestigious award. And award that we will never miss, we are here since it started. Besides Sello’s date of birth and the day he left us, this is the next most important date on our calendar, to come and enjoy the day with the recipient.
For the first time, work in the !Xam and !Kun languages was recognised by the SALAs, with |A!kunta, !Kabbo, ≠Kasin, Dia!kwain and |Han≠kass’o being posthumously honoured for their ‘magical, beautiful and complex’ contribution to the Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd collection.
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele and Etienne van Heerden were honoured with Lifetime Achievement Literary Awards.
2017 South African Literary Award winners:
First-time Published Author Award
Winner: Moses Shimo Seletisha for Tšhutšhumakgala (Sepedi)
K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award
Winner: Nthikeng Mohlele for Pleasure (English)
Winners: Helen Moffett for Prunings (English) and Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu for Iingcango Zentliziyo (isiXhosa)
Creative Non-fiction Award
Winner: Dikgang Moseneke for My Own Liberator (English)
Literary Journalism Award
Winners: Don Makatile and Phakama Mbonambi
Nadine Gordimer Short story Award
Winner: Roela Hattingh for Kamee (Afrikaans)
Literary Translators Award
Winners: Bridget Theron-Bushell for The Thirstland Trek: 1874—1881 (Afrikaans—English); Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko for William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali: Xhosa Histories and Poetry (1873—1888) (isiXhosa—English); Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko for DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems (isiXhosa—English)
Posthumous Literary Award
Winners: |A!kunta, !Kabbo, ≠Kasin, Dia!kwain and |Han≠kass’o (!Xam and !Kun)
Winner: Themba Christian Msimang
Lifetime Achievement Literary Award
Winners: Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa (English), Aletta Matshedisð Motimele (Sepedi) and Etienne van Heerden (Afrikaans)
Watch the full ceremony here: