The University of Johannesburg announced the winners of the creative writing prizes on September 15th. The prizes are the UJ Prize for Creative Writing in isiZulu and the UJ Prize for Creative Writing in Sesotho sa Leboa.
The University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing in English (also called the UJ Prize) was created in 2006. This is the first year of the prize category for creative works in isiZulu and Sesotho sa Leboa. For each category, there are two prizes: a main prize and a debut prize.
The winner of the 2021 UJ main prize for Creative Writing in isiZulu (R70 000.00) is EDM Sibiya for his anthology Isibusiso Nezinyembezi (Blessings and Tears). The collection features 100 poems written by 13 seasoned poets in celebration of Sibusiso Nyembezi’s influence on isiZulu literature. Themes like culture, politics, history, and war, just to name a few, are explored in his collection.
The winner of the 2021 Debut Prize for Creative Writing in isiZulu (R35 000.00) is Mbusiseni Bhenya for his book UGovana kaGovana (Discontentment). One of the judges commented on the book saying
in UGovana kaGovana, the author delves into the interesting dynamic of the love-hate relationships between mothers-in-law and their makotis. It points out how a makoti, who wants finer things in life, controls her husband and isolates him from his family. The drama reflects on this kind of volatile relationship, which consistently recurs in poor communities where children are expected to take care of their aging parents.
Last, but not least, the winner of the 2021 main prize for Sesotho sa Leboa (R70 000.00) is Kobate John Sekele for his novel Madimabe a Lešoko (The heartache That Comes With Having Children Sometimes…). The novel deals with issues of loyalty, disrespect, and the age-old theme of actions having consequences. The panel praised Sekele for his use of the standard form of Sesotho sa Leboa and said it should serve as a source of inspiration to other writers.
Congratulations to the winners!