The 32nd auspicious and prestigious Sanlam Youth Literature Awards in collaboration with Tafelberg publishers were held last night at the beautiful Emoyeni Estate, a 107 year old Edwardian style building in Parktown whose name means “in the air” in Zulu. The evening was packed full of entertainment, champagne and screenings of the winning book trailers before the winners were announced, and after, pantsula dancers and hip-hop and rap group Tumi and the Volume gave performances, while guests enjoyed traditional food.
The MC, Katlego Maboe from the Expresso Breakfast Show on SABC 3 had guests laughing with his witty anecdotes and masterful eloquence in the four South African languages – English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Setwana – that the 6 prize winning books, for 12 to 18 year olds, had been written in.
Lebo Monyatsi, the head of group marketing and development for Sanlam, spoke about how these awards were part of their strategic CSI approach. She said, “We are done with hand-outs and we are dealing with ‘hands up’ now and today’s sponsorship bears testimony to this. At Sanlam we see ourselves as protectors of our linguistic heritage. There were 109 entrants this year. There were 18 finalists, out of which these 6 prize winners were chosen. Each story had to carry a message of hope. Of the 72 winners since 1980, 48 of these books have been recommended by national and provincial government, some are prescribed at high schools.” Monyatsi quoted Oliver Tambo, “A country that doesn’t value its youth, doesn’t deserve its future.”
Eloise Wessels, the CEO of NB Publishers said, “Authors of juvenile books find themselves on an interesting cusp, on the one hand they are instrumental in developing this linguistic defence mechanism by which their young readers can negotiate the starting institute of life and on the other they still address their readers within that very context of intense and immediate experience. This is the balance that they have to strike, while also engaging and entertaining and hopefully enslaving their readers for life.”
Without any further ado, the 2011/2012 Sanlam Youth Literature winners, are:
- Jayne Bauling’s Dreaming of Light – Gold Prize, English Category
- Kabelo Duncan Kgatea’s Mmudubudu – Gold Prize, African Languages Category (Setswana)
- Annelie Ferreira’s Tot Siens, Koning Arthur – Gold Prize, Afrikaans Category
- Neil Malherbe’s The Magyar Conspiracy – Silver Prize, English Category
- BD Khawula’s Yihlathi Leli – Silver Prize, African Languages Category (isiZulu)
- Derick van Der Walt’s Hoopvol – Silver Prize, Afrikaans Category
Each winner gave a short speech after accepting their prize. Fifth time winner Kgatea was particularly moving, he said, “To all writers, let us continue to create books for this generation, it is our task and responsibility as prophets of the nation to write, to strengthen and empower our nation and bring it together, to build this rainbow nation.”
Jayne Bauling won a gold prize for her novel Dreaming of Light in the category for English novels. Annelie Ferreira claimed a gold prize in the Afrikaans category with Tot siens, koning Arthur, while the third gold went to multi-award winning Kabelo Duncan Kgatea, in the category Sotho languages for his Setswana book Mmudubudu. Silver prizes were awarded to Derick van der Walt for Hoopvol (Afrikaans), and to debut authors Neil Malherbe for The Magyar Conspiracy (English), and B.D. Khawula for Yihlathi Leli (Nguni languages).
The authors received their cash prizes on 16 October at a function hosted by Sanlam at Emoyeni Estate in Parktown, Johannesburg. The books were launched at the same event and are available at book stores nationwide as well as in e-book format.
The theme of this biennial competition was hope. A total of 109 entries were received and judged anonymously. The judges were Penny Hochfeld, Melt Myburgh, Lona Gericke, Susan Samuel, Alet Míhalik, Verushka Louw, D.B.Z. Ntuli, Dolly Dlavane, Diako Mokatsane, Dorah Mabule, Pamela Maseko and Kanakana Ladzani.
The next competition, the Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature 2013, is open for entries already. Youth novels for readers between the ages of 14 and 18 can be submitted until 30 June 2013. Visit www.tafelberg.com for more information and to download an entry form. In previous years authors were asked to write according to a set theme, but the organisers have decided to give writers’ imaginations free reign in 2013 and no particular theme was set.
Synopsis of books and brief biographical information on the authors
English – Gold: Jayne Bauling for Dreaming of Light
This novel offers a look at the desperate existence of zama zamas; children working illegally in abandoned mines, who stay underground for as long as three months at a time. The main character is Regile, an eighteen-year-old that has moved up the ranks and is now paid a salary to keep the other child workers in line. Young Taiba steadfastly believes in the legend of Spike Maphosa, a zama zama who is said to have escaped the horror of life in a mine. But Regile knows such hope is dangerous.
Jayne Bauling was born in England but grew up in South Africa and lives in White River, Mpumalanga. She published 17 women’s fiction novels in the UK and her youth novels E Eights and Stepping Solo were awarded the Maskew Miller Longman literature awards.
Afrikaans – Gold: Annelie Ferreira for Tot siens, koning Arthur
Sylvia once had plans to study medicine and was chosen as a prefect, but now she has to do a hundred hours community service in an old age home after being expelled from school. When her little brother gets sick she has to trust her instincts to save him. Will she get the opportunity to save her own future too?
Annelie Ferreira has written a number of nonfiction titles in Afrikaans, as well as a novel for adults. She lives with her husband in Bristol, England. They have two grown-up daughters.
African languages – Gold (Sotho languages): Kabelo Duncan Kgatea for Mmudubudu (Setswana)
An unlikely friendship exists between two high school boys from Rustenberg: Rapula and Attie. They are in matric and dream of becoming professional sportsmen in rugby and soccer. The events take place while the FIFA World Cup is held in South Africa in 2010 and the narrative covers a number of social aspects in our country: disrupted families, discrepancy between rich and poor, tolerance/intolerance in mixed communities and the effects of unemployment.
English – Silver: Neil Malherbe for The Magyar Conspiracy
Sandy is a great athlete, the son of a Hungarian father and a South African mother. Shortly before he joins his schools’ water polo team to compete in Hungary, his father dies on a mountain climbing outing in Cape Town. Everyone thinks it was an accident, but Sandy’s suspicions were aroused by two men he saw on the mountain path that morning. When he leaves for Hungary he goes in search of much more than a water polo medal – he needs answers about his father’s past.
Neil Malherbe is headmaster of Penryn Preparatory School near Nelspruit. This is his first novel.
Afrikaans – Silver: Derick van der Walt for Hoopvol
In this crossover novel sixteen-year-old Ben goes in search of his father, whom he never knew, after his mother and sister die tragically in a fire in their home in Mayfair, Johannesburg. Parallel to this is the story of Nathalie, an orphan, in the Karoo town Hoopvol.
Hoopvol is Derick van der Walt’s third novel. He was awarded a Sanlam Prize for Lien se lankstaanskoene in 2007, as well as in 2009 for Willem Poprok. Derick is a director of Chilli Communications Consultants in Pretoria.
African Languages – Silver (Nguni languages): Bhekisigcino Damasius Khawula for Yihlathi Leli (IsiZulu)
Mchithwa’s prime goal in life is to become a teacher. But when a taxi driver stops to offer him assistance on the side of the road one day, he is drawn into the world of drug trafficking. His main duty is to get a supply of ARV’s to use in the making of the drug cocktail “wunga”. He eventually ends up in jail. What will become of him and his dreams?
Bhekisigcino D. Khawula lives in Ntokozweni, Durban, and this is his first book.
- Dreaming of Light by Jayne Bauling
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- Tot siens, koning Arthur by Annelie Ferreira
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- The Magyar Conspiracy by Neil Malherbe
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