On October 13th, The University of Johannesburg announced winners for South African Writing in English. The winner of the main prize is Jacob Dlamini (Safari Nation: A Social History of the Kruger National Park) and the winners for debut novel are Jamil F. Khan (Khamr: The Making of a Waterslams) and Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (Scatterlings).

The University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing in English (also called the UJ Prize) was created in 2006. The prize aims to showcase South African writing of any genre in English, Afrikaans, and debuting this year, Sesotho sa Leboa and isiZulu. For each category, there are two prizes: a main prize and a debut prize. Jacob Dlamini, the Main Prize in English winner, will receive R70,000. This year’s Debut Prize in English winnings of R35,000 will be shared between Rešoketšwe Manenzhe and Jamil F. Khan.

Jacob Dlamini’s Safari Nation takes a deep dive into the study of national parks in Africa, focusing on South Africa’s iconic Kruger National Park through oral histories, photographs, and archival research. Dlamini’s book details how the conservations efforts of the park over the course of the twentieth century centers around black people’s involvement and engagement, moving away from stereotypes of black people in African national parks as only laborers or poachers. Jacob Dlamini is a journalist, historian and author. He is currently an assistant professor of history at Princeton University.

Scatterlings, a novel by Rešoketšwe Manenzhe, follows a multiracial family set in the early 1900’s, around the same time of the Immorality Act, 1927 (Act No. 5 of 1927). The novel offers uniqure perspectives from each of the family members: Abram, a white South African winemaker, his wife Alisa, a descendant from Carribbean slaves, and their daughter Dido. The novel was awarded the 2020 Dinaane Debut Fiction. Resoketswe Manenzhe is a PhD candidate at the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Cape Town

Khamr: The Makings of a Waterslams is a memoir by Jamil F. Khan. The book follows his life experiences from childhood to early adulthood while facing a variety of serious life obstacles.  Khan says about his debut book that “this is not a story for the romanticisation of pain and perseverance, although it tells of overcoming many difficulties. It is a critique of secret violence in faith communities and families, and the hypocrisy that has damaged so many people still looking for a place and way to voice their trauma.” Jamil F. Khan is a writer, columnist, and PhD Candidate in Critical Diversity Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Congratulations to the winners!