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Njabulo Ndebele's Speech at the 2009 Sunday Times Literary Awards (Videos)

Njabulo Ndebele#stlitawards Njabulo NdebeleProf Njabulo Ndebele delivered the keynote address at the 2009 Sunday Times Literary Awards that was chastening, moving and inspirational by turns.

His two major themes were the meaning of the recent SA election, on the one hand, and the requirement of SA’s citizens to “submit” to participatory democracy, on the other.

Many at the awards expressed the opinion that the speech should be required reading. Here’s the full text, followed by two video clips from the occasion:

A Covenant of Good Sense

Last week I opened my Sunday Times and came across a confession by none other than the editor of the newspaper, who in his column described himself as “being a submissive newspaperman”.

He revealed that when minister Lindiwe Sisulu called him to Mthatha to join her and the defence force for 67 minutes of community service, he simply submitted to her authority.

But then the 67 minutes of community service on Madiba’s birthday was a worthy call to submit to — which makes me think it was really Mondli Makhanya the South African citizen who submitted, rather than the hard-nut newspaperman.

This allows me to think that perhaps there is lot out there that many of us may have to learn to be submissive to.
But I run ahead of myself.

I would like to add my congratulations to this year’s winners of the Sunday Times Literary Awards. My experience is that writing a book is not easy. It is often a lonely and painful process.

The promise, the anticipation and dread of working towards that promise result in a mix of emotions that test resolve. That is why public recognition of this most private of efforts can be such a rewarding experience.

It is customary in modern times for writers, artists, dramatists and filmmakers to let us in to the privacy of their creative struggles — you know, how they do it on DVDs, where the director talks us through the creative process behind the film.

Somehow, this exposure of private struggles makes us appreciate the final product more.

I think South Africans as a nation may be going through a creative process not too different from that experienced by both those who won awards and those who didn’t, but certainly ran a good race.

Video: Njabulo Ndebele on the meaning of the recent SA election

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Video: Njabulo Ndebele calls for us to “submit” to the imperatives of democracy

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