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Naomi Morgan Knighted by French Government for Her Contribution to Art and Literature

Monsieur Ibrahim en die blomme van die KoranOskar en die pienk tannieProfessor Naòmi Morgan was recently knighted by the French government for her contribution to art and literature.

Morgan has translated two books by the Belgian author Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt into Afrikaans: Monsieur Ibrahim en die blomme van die Koran and Oskar en die pienk tannie.

Morgan is the head of French at the Department of Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French at the University of the Free State and is currently one of six people worldwide who can translate texts from French to Afrikaans and vice versa. She said that this award is the “biggest gift someone has ever given me”.

Press release

Translator Knighted by French Government

The translator and academic professor Naòmi Morgan was decorated as a Knight of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the French Ministry of Arts and Culture.

She was honoured for her contribution to arts and literature through her translations of French to Afrikaans. Morgan is known for her translation of Oskar en die pienk tannie (Oscar et la dame rose) by the Belgian author Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt published by Human & Rousseau in 2012. The theatre production – also translated by Morgan with Sandra Prinsloo in the leading role – won several awards. One of these was the prize of Best Free State Artist bestowed on Morgan.

Her most recent translation, Monsieur Ibrahim en die blomme van die Koran (Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Koran), also by Schmitt; published by Human & Rousseau in 2014, was originally published in 2001 and made into a film.

With this award Morgan follows in the footsteps of South Africans like Johnny Clegg, William Kentridge and Ramadan Suleman. Only 200 knighthoods are bestowed annually. The two higher orders ­– Ordre des Arts et des Lettres: Officier (officer) and Commandeur (commander) are given to 60 and 20 people respectively.

Morgan is based at the University of the Free State where she is the head of French at the Department of Afrikaans, Dutch, German and French. She describes this award as the “biggest gift someone has ever given me”. She says that the art and craft of translation is very close to her heart and the award serves as inspiration for language students who are sceptical about careers in translation.

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