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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

NIHSS Award winners to be announced tonight

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Award winners will be announced on Wednesday 29 March 2017. The awards are aimed at recognising and awarding outstanding, innovative and socially responsible scholarship that enhance and advance the fields of Human Social Sciences. They are awarded for the best non-fiction monograph; the best edited non-fiction volume; the best fiction book; the best creative collections, and digital contributions category.

Wits University Press is proud of having 5 finalists in the shortlists for these awards, with two books shortlisted for the best Non-fiction monograph, namely Gabeba Baderoon’s Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid, as well as Susan Booysen’s Dominance & Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma. In the category for best Non-fiction Edited Volume, Wits Press’s urban studies book, Changing Space, Changing City: Johannesburg after Apartheid, edited by Phil Harrison, Graeme Gotz, Alison Todes and Chris Wray is a finalist. And in the category for best Creative Collections in the Visual Arts, Wits Press boasts two finalists. They are Beadwork, Art and the Body – Dilo tse Dintsha/Abundance, edited by Anitra Nettleton, and a book on the work of the artist Penny Siopis, Penny Siopis: Time and Again, edited by Gerrit Olivier.

NIHSS CEO, Prof Sarah Mosoetsa said much work needs to be done to identify, support and promote new South African voices, authors and stories in the humanities and social sciences.

Wits University Press publisher, Veronica Klipp said she is pleased that South African scholarly publishing is receiving recognition through these awards. Apart from contributing to research and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, it also stimulates public debate on a number of important issues and creates new forms of democratic spaces.

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Benedict Wallet Vilakazi – the ‘Father of Nguni Literature’ – honoured with Order of Ikhamanga

The late Zulu poet, novelist and linguist Benedict Wallet Vilakazi will be honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga today.

The National Orders Awards are awarded annually to those who have “played a momentous role towards building a free democratic South Africa and who also have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans in various ways”.

Vilakazi and Marguerite Poland are the two writers who will be receiving the Order of Ikhamanga this year, an award that recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

Wits University Press published Vilakazi’s first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (Zulu Horizons) – the poetry ever published in isiZulu – and a subsequent volume Amal’eZulu, as well as the first Zulu-English Dictionary, which Vilakazi compiled in collaboration with CM Doke.

Find out more, from Wits Press:

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi has been called the “Father of Nguni Literature”. He was born on 6 January, 1906 at Groutville Mission Station near Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal. The poet grew up in the neighbourhood of the mission station and in 1912 entered the primary school at Groutville, remaining there until he reached Standard 4. He continued his schooling at Marianhill, the Roman Catholic Monastery outside Durban, and after reaching standard 6, took a teacher’s training course.

Vilakazi’s gifts and ambitions came to the fore when he attended the Catholic Seminary at Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, where he devoted much of his spare time to distance education. He succeeded in matriculating, after which he taught at the Ohlange Institute in Phoenix near Durban. In 1934 he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree in African Studies. At the time, Vilakazi was already known to academics at the University of the Witwatersrand, which was in the process of publishing his first book of poems, Inkondlo kaZulu (tr: Zulu Horizons). This was the first book of poems ever published in isiZulu; it also marked the launch of the newly established Bantu (later: African) Treasury Series (published by Wits University Press), a collection of 20 classic works written between 1935 and the 1987 in African indigenous languages.

Coincidentally, the University was looking for an assistant in its Bantu Studies Department (now the Department of African Languages). At the insistence of CM Doke, at the time Head of Department, Vilakazi was appointed as Language Assistant in 1935. This appointment made him the first black African in the then Union of South Africa to teach at a white university, and it sparked a controversy: treated with suspicion by conservative whites, it was also seen as a “collaborationist appointment” (1) by some in the black political elite.

Vilakazi continued his own studies and, in 1938, was awarded a Master of Arts degree. In 1946 he reached another milestone by becoming the first black African in South Africa to receive a Doctorate in Literature (D Litt.) from Wits for his thesis The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni.

When Vilakazi entered the literary field, there were no published books of plays or poems written in isiZulu, and from 1930 onwards for 10 years, Vilakazi, HIE and RRR Dhlomo dominated the literary scene. Amal’eZulu (Wits University Press), published in 1945, was later recognized as one the best 100 African books of the twentieth century. Vilakazi also published three novels, Noma Nini! (Marianhill Mission Press), Udingiswayo KaJobe (Sheldon Press) and Nje Nempela (Marianhill Mission Press). In collaboration with Doke, he compiled the first Zulu-English Dictionary (Wits University Press). Writing in 1995, Dumisani Ntshangase asserted that Vilakazi and Doke:

produced the first major lexicographical work in an African language and this dictionary even today stands as the most successful and comprehensive project in African Languages lexicography in South Africa. (2)

In his writings, Vilakazi thought of himself as a spokesperson for his people and he identified with the struggles, fears, sacrifices and aspirations of his people. However, because of the bias towards African literature written in English – a bias that dominated academic discourse as well as debates within the resistance movement of the time – “his works have always been put in the periphery of the African intellectual history.” (3)

Vilakazi died suddenly of meningitis at Coronation Hospital at the age of 41 on 26 October, 1947, survived by five children. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding figure in Zulu literature of his time, and his funeral in Marianhill was attended by thousands of people.


1. Dumisani Kruschchev Ntshangase, Between the Lion and the Devil: The Life and Works of BW Vilakazi, 1906-1947. Paper presented for the Institute for Advanced Social Research, University of Witwatersrand 1995. Page 3.
2. Ntshangase 1995, page 2.
3. Ntshangase 1995, page 1.

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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

Book details

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Ilana van Wyk Nominated for the Clifford Geertz Prize for Excellence in the Anthropology of Religion

A Church of StrangersA Church of Strangers: The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in South Africa by Ilana van Wyk has been nominated for the Clifford Geertz Prize.

Church of Strangers is an ethnographic study of the people involved in The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in post-apartheid South Africa. UCKG, a church movement that began in Brazil, has proved successful and popular in this country and this specific time in history.

Van Wyk seeks to understand the individuals rather than the organisation, which has been condemned as empty and manipulative by outsiders. She has been praised for the rich and thorough research into how religion works in urban South Africa, and how it relates to local perspectives.

This is, according to Huma, exactly what the Clifford Geertz prize looks for:

Awarded by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, a section of the American Anthropological Association, the prize is named in honor of the late Professor Clifford Geertz, in recognition of his many distinguished contributions to the anthropological study of religion.

Read more about the prize on the Society for the Anthropology of Religion site:

In awarding the Prize, the Society hopes to foster innovative scholarship, the integration of theory with ethnography, and the connection of the anthropology of religion to the larger world.

The Prize will be awarded at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in November, 2015.

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Gabeba Baderoon Included in Karin Schimke’s Badilisha Poetry X-Change Top 10 (Plus: Podcast)

Regarding MuslimsBadilisha Poetry X-Change is a website dedicated to archiving poems by African poets, using categories ranging from “country” to “emotion” to help readers discover new – or rediscover old – voices.

Every month Badilisha invites a poet to curate a group of 10 poets whose work moves them. The latest list was selected by Ingrid Jonker Prize-winning author, Karin Schimke, who included Regarding Muslims: From slavery to post-apartheid author Gabeba Baderoon among her favourites.

In Regarding Muslims Baderoon takes a look at how Muslims fit into South Africa’s well-known narrative of colonialism, apartheid and postapartheid. This book has just been longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. The shortlist will be announced in May, with the winner to be announced in June.

Read and listen to Baderoon’s featured poem, entitled “War Tryptich”, and view her biography by visiting the Badelisha site:

I. Accounting

The mother asked to stay.
She looked at her silent child.

I was waiting for you.

The quiet of the girls face was a different quiet
Her hands lay untouched by death.

The washer of bodies cut
away her long black dress.

Blue prayer beads fell
to the floor in a slow accounting.

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Gabeba Baderoon on the Editorial Board for The Montreal Prize for Poetry (Entries Open Now)

Gabeba BaderoonRegarding MuslimsGabeba Baderoon is part of the jury for The Montreal Prize, an international poetry competition.

The competition is open to poems in English, of 40 lines or fewer, and there is an entry fee, which is lower for poets from developing countries. Prize money is $20 000 (+/-R235 000). The early deadline for entries is 11:59pm ET (Montreal Time) on March 31, 2015, and the final deadline is 15 May.

The top poems selected by the editors will also be published in a global poetry anthology.

Baderoon is joined on the editorial board by Kate Clanchy, Carolyn Forché, Amanda Jernigan, Anthony Lawrence, Niyi Osundare, Jennifer Rahim, K Satchidanandan, Michael Schmidt and Bruce Taylor, with Eavan Boland acting as prize judge.

Baderoon is the author of a number of poetry collections, the most recent being The Dream in the Next Body. Read her biography on the Montreal Prize website:

Gabeba Baderoon is a poet and scholar and the author of the poetry collections, The Dream in the Next Body and A Hundred Silences, and the monograph Regarding Muslims: from slavery to post-apartheid. Her short story “The Year of Sleeping Badly” was selected as one of the “Best Short Stories of South Africa’s Democracy” in 2014. Baderoon has also received the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry and held the Guest Writer Fellowship from the Nordic Africa Institute. She is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and teaches Women’s Studies and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

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Luli Callinicos Named the Inaugural Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador

Who built Jozi?During last year’s Jozi Book Fair, Luli Callinicos, author of Who built Jozi?, was selected to be the inaugural Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador, “to promote reading and writing in urban and rural areas, in all communities and in all languages.”

Callinicos says she was overwhelmed by the honour and spoke about the importance of creating thousands of reading ambassadors: “They would be speaking about books, getting people excited about reading books, recommending books and writing books. I hope we can all work together to create a reading culture because, Reading the word enables us to Read the world.”

During 5th Jozi Book Fair in 2013 we chose the first Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador, Luli Callinicos, to promote reading and writing in urban and rural areas, in all communities and in all languages.

This is the first time that the concept, the Reading Ambassador, is used in South Africa. This is consistent with the JBF’s approach to purposefully intervene in the building of a readers movement. This year the first Jozi Book Fair Reading Ambassador in South Africa, Luli Callinicos was elected. Luli Callinicos is an author, historian and an activist.

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Adekeye Adebajo Says This Year’s Oscars Were a Historic Night for Africa

The EU and AfricaAdekeye Adebajo says the number of Oscar nominations for black artists this year made the 2014 Academy Awards a historic event.

Adebajo, who is the executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, and co-editor of The EU and Africa: From Eurafrique to Afro-Europa, points out that in the last 84 years, less than four percent of acting awards have gone to people of African descent.

This year, however, six African artists were up for prestigious awards – the highest number ever. Nigerian-Briton Chiwetel Ejiofor was up for best actor, Kenya’s Lupita Nyong’o for best supporting actress, Somalia’s Barkhad Abdi for best supporting actor, Grenadian-Briton Steve McQueen for best director (and his film 12 Years A Slave for best picture), Egypt’s Jehane Noujain for best documentary, and African-American John Ridley for best adapted screenplay.

Nyong’o and Ridley were award winners on the night, with 12 Years A Slave becoming the first ever black-directed movie to win an Oscar for best picture.

This event has been criticised in the past for focusing too much attention on white actors, directors, and screenwriters, while ignoring the achievements of black artists.

In the last 84 years, less than four percent of acting awards went to people of African descent. The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences (Ampas) – whose 6 000 members choose Oscar winners – has also been criticised for lacking diversity, with 94 percent of the members being white and 77 percent male in 2012.

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Gabrielle Hecht Awarded Susanne M Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Being Nuclear

Being NuclearGabrielle Hecht has received the fifteenth annual Susanne M Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship for her book, Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.

Being Nuclear was also the co-winner of the American Historical Association‘s Klein Book Prize in African History in 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Melville J Herskovits Award.

Hecht will receive the award and present a lecture at Texas A&M University in the Glasscock Center Library on Thursday 10 April at 4PM.

Gabrielle Hecht is the recipient of the Fiftennth Annual Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship for her book Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade, published by the MIT Press in 2012.

Professor Hecht writes and teaches about the history and anthropology of technology. She conducts research on modern Africa, with much of her work focusing on nuclear subjects. Her book Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade received a Martin Klein Prize in African history. She is also author of Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War (MIT Press, 2011) and of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (MIT Press, 1998, 2009) which was awarded the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize in European History and the Edelstein Prize in the History of Technology.

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Being Nuclear by Gabrielle Hecht Shortlisted for the 2013 Melville J Herskovits Award

Being NuclearWe are proud to announce that author Gabrielle Hecht, Professor of History at the University of Michigan and author of Being Nuclear, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Melville J Herskovits Award. With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa.

The Herskovits Award is presented annually by the African Studies Association for the best scholarly work on Africa published in English during the previous year. Considered to be among the most prestigious awards for books about Africa, past winners have included highly regarded authors who rigorously examined an area of scholarly interest.

Being Nuclear has already earned Hecht a previous prize when it was named the co-winner in 2012 of the American Historical Association‘s Klein Book Prize in African History.

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