Friday, March 28, 2014

Caine Prize Writing Workshop 2014: Interview with Publisher, Jane Morris

amaBooks holds a lot of significance for me, personally, as the first publisher to accept my work aged 22. Every time Jane Morris (amaBooks co-founder) and I meet, the exchanges are effervescent and full of laughter. Here, I interview her ahead of the currently ongoing Caine Prize for African Writing Workshop. Read an article about the workshop here.
Fungai Machirori (FM): How  is business in the publishing sector lately? What factors are influencing this?
Jane Morris (JM): Our impression is that the general economy of Zimbabwe is in a poor state at the moment, and obviously the book industry is affected by this. People having less disposable income results in less money being spent on buying books. Unfortunately reading, outside school or college syllabi, is not a priority for many people in Zimbabwe. ’amaBooks are publishers of Zimbabwe fiction and there is a very small market for most fiction titles.
However, there are positives – success stories such as NoViolet Bulawayo’s (We Need New Names)or Bryony Rheam’s (This September Sun) have stimulated an interest in local literature, and the availability of short-run printing in the region means we can continue to make books available even if their sales are fairly limited.
FM: Are you receiving manuscripts? Are they good? Do you have the capacity to publish?
JM: We are receiving manuscripts, and some are of a good standard. Unfortunately with the limited sales for fiction we have to be very selective in what we choose to publish. There have been occasions when we have enjoyed a manuscript and would have liked to accept it for publication but did not have the requisite resources at that time. However, the publishing world is changing. Publishing used to depend on litho printing, which required a large print-run in order to keep unit costs low – hence a large initial investment. New technology has helped in that respect; a smaller print-run is now possible, meaning that publishers can take a chance on books that are not likely to sell in big numbers, including fiction and poetry. e-books add another dimension, with that, and print-on-demand, books can remain in circulation even when numbers selling are small.
FM: Are you selling many copies locally, and why or why not? Are all the books nationally available?
JM: Our books are available in the main centres of Bulawayo and Harare and a limited number in Mutare. We would love our books to be available in the smaller centres, such as Gweru and Kwekwe but most outlets only buy school text books. They are not a great number of bookshops in Zimbabwe and we make an effort to get our books into other outlets, such as shops selling crafts. Anyone having difficulty getting hold of one of our titles can contact us directly. The biggest market for our books still remains Zimbabwe. There are people in the country who do buy new books, but the number of such buyers is limited and discerning. Efforts are being made to encourage an interest in literature through literary events, competitions, reading clubs, workshops and launches
We are endeavouring to enter into co-publishing, or rights selling, arrangements to make our titles more readily available outside Zimbabwe. Most of our books are available outside of Zimbabwe, on a print-on-demand basis through African Books Collective.
FM: You have turned some books into e-books. Are they being bought? Why do you think this is the case? What are you most popular titles currently?
Most of our books are available as e-books on a number of platforms. Outside of Zimbabwe, e-books do seem a good proposition cost-wise for our fiction titles, given the high cost of distribution or the high cost of print-on-demand. Certainly, e-books sales are on the increase, we have been heartened at some of the recent sales figures. It has also been good to be able to bring some of our older titles back as e-books. The good news locally is that a local company, Open Book, will soon be up and running, selling e-books both for the standard e-readers and for cell phones that do not need to be too smart. The option to sell either complete books and individual stories or poems is very exciting and innovative. Worldreader are working in a similar way to promote a reading culture, distributing Kindles in projects in schools and elsewhere across Africa. Worldreader recently launched in Zimbabwe at King George VI School for Children living with Physical Disabilities in Bulawayo, and we are just about to publish a collection of stories and poems by the students there, which will be available as an e-book.
The most successful e-book title we’ve had is Bryony Rheam’s This September Sun, which topped sales on Amazon in the United Kingdom in mid-2013 and remains consistently in the top 100 of Women’s Literary Fiction.
FM: You just translated ‘Where To Now’ into Ndebele? How easy/ hard was it to get backing for this? How do you intend to distribute this version?
JM: We have been encouraged to take the step of publishing in isiNdebele by many writers and academics and we hope that the publication of Siqondephi Manje? will lead to a greater interest in reading literature for pleasure. The emphasis of publishing in indigenous languages again seems to have been on the school market.
Literary translation is a highly skilled activity and we’ve been fortunate in having Dr Thabisani Ndlovu, who is a well-regarded creative writer and academic, to translate the work. Feedback from the writers in the collection about the standard of the translation has been very positive. The funding for the translation was part of a wider project supporting literature in Zimbabwe.
We will distribute the book through our usual outlets, and we hope that local libraries will show an interest in the anthology.
FM: Has the partnership with the Caine Prize in co-publishing the Caine Prize Anthology boosted your profile and profitability?
JM: We are delighted to be the publishers of the Caine Prize anthology in Zimbabwe – we have always been enthusiastic about partnerships across Africa. We wanted to bring some of the best writers from the continent to the attention of Zimbabwean readers and this seemed an ideal opportunity. We would also like our books to be more readily available in other African countries and are pursuing this possibility through selling rights. Publishing the Caine Prize anthology does raise our profile across the continent, though, with the economic situation in Zimbabwe, sales of such collections are limited.
FM: There are prolific writers of fiction in Zimbabwe but most are published first outside of Zimbabwe. Why do you think this is? And how easy/ hard is it to get local publishing rights?
JM: Certainly many of the best-selling fiction writers outside of Zimbabwe are those that are published outside of the country – not surprisingly given the promotion by their international publishers, and given the exodus of so many of the educated population and the writing community. The most prolific Zimbabwean writers are those who tend to be published within the country – John Eppel, Christopher Mlalazi and Shimmer Chinodya spring to mind. With dollarization, it is becoming easier to bring titles from outside the country to Zimbabwean readers, but the situation again means low numbers sold.
FM: What are your hopes for Zimbabwe’s literary sector?

JM: These are exciting times for publishing across the world – with technological changes leading to much more open and varied access to publishing. Zimbabwe has special challenges, due to the economic climate, and to the exodus of many of those who write and who would purchase literary fiction. e-book technology does seem to offer a way of distributing content at fairly low cost to potential readers, but we must ensure that there remains a vibrant local publishing industry that provides high quality local literary content. There are good Zimbabwe writers, both in Zimbabwe and in the diaspora, and we think that the future is safe in their hands. We have always been keen to publish new writers and the ideal platform has been the series of short writings we have published. A number of these writers have gone on to publish their own books – Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Bryony Rheam, Christopher Mlalazi, Mzana Mthimkhulu, Raisedon Baya, Deon Marcus and we understand that a number of others are working on books. We hope that this gives encouragement to new writers following on. It is really exciting as a publisher when a manuscript from a new writer appears on your screen, and you think … Yes. Initiatives to encourage writing, such as the Yvonne Vera Award and the Writers International Network Zimbabwe manuscript assessment programme are initiatives that support and encourage writing and there is certainly the need for more of these.

Caine Prize Workshop 2014: Interview With Writer, Tendai Huchu

Fungai Machirori (FM): As a writer whose book was first published in Zimbabwe and is now being republished internationally, would you say there is a difference in sales/ professionalism/ marketing between Zimbabwe and the international space? If so, please explain.
Tendai Huchu (TH): That is a difficult question because each market is different and so the sales reflect that. My book is a local novel in the Zimbabwean context, which is different from marketing it, say, in the UK where it is a foreign title. Western markets are more affluent and the novel is an established art form there, so you are not comparing like with like. In terms of professionalism, the two publishing houses you have in Zimbabwe that do fiction, Weaver Press and amaBooks, are working in very difficult circumstances but there can be no criticism of their standards, you only need to read through their catalogue to see that. More power to them for what they’ve achieved.
FM: In the post-2000s, you are one of the few Zimbabwean writers who has managed to write a novel that does not pay too much attention to the political situation in Zimbabwe. Do you think there is a market for that sort of writing locally and internationally? Why?
TH: I don’t think in terms of “the market” when I write. In my work, I’m trying to engage with ideas and concepts that interest me, but I do think there is room out there for all sorts of literature from vampire erotica to literary political fiction and everything in between. Ultimately all we are doing is peddling stories, and storytelling is an ancient art form, one that still exists because it answers an intrinsic human need.
FM: Has there been any local resistance to your book for tackling homosexuality which remains a highly divisive issue across the continent?
TH: Certainly none that I’m aware of. The text is open to the reader’s interpretation, so while some people obsess about the fact it has a gay character, other people realise that there is a lot more going on in the book. One also has to think about the kind of person who would go into a book store and spend their hard earned cash buying my work. I keep repeating the fact that books are an art form, and so my audience is probably just as limited as the audience you’d get if you put on opera or a yodelling performance. If a Sungura artist tackled that, then I’m sure they would reach a wider audience, and as a consequence enjoy much more interesting feedback from the public.
FM: The Caine Prize has constantly come under pressure for ‘pigeon-holing’ Africa across a handful of reductive themes. Do you think this is true? Can you explain why or why not?
TH: The Caine Prize comes under a bit of criticism which should be expected for a successful, high profile institution. But the Caine does not and cannot control the work writers across the continent choose to produce. They have different judges from different backgrounds each year, which means you have people with different tastes participating. But judging a literary prize is all about aesthetics; I would like to believe the judges are independent and the Caine doesn’t give them a tick list for what to look for. I confess that I’ve not followed it closely over the last fifteen years, but I’m sure the dynamic is the other way round, that is to say, the prize itself is influenced by what writers on the continent are interested in, because they provide the raw material that enables it to exist.
FM: Do you think the workshop being held in Zimbabwe will herald literary ‘re-engagement’ with Zimbabwe, or has this always been happening?
TH: Literature is about ideas and so I don’t believe it is possible for the world to disengage or re-engage with us, rather you have natural cycles, peaks and troughs, depending on whether the ideas being produced in one canon appeal to readers in another and vice versa. Zimbabwe is just one of many players jostling in the global literary market, and a single workshop is nothing in the grand scheme of things. What I believe though, with no empirical proof, is that, because it has a disproportionately sized diaspora, Zimbabwean literature reaps the benefits of having practitioners who interact with ideas from all across the world and that can only be enriching.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Launch of Siqondephi Manje? Indatshana zaseZimbabwe

with readings from their stories by Raisedon Baya, Mzana Mthimkhulu and Thabisani Ndlovu, and a reading of NoViolet Bulawayo's story by Sithandazile Dube.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Caine Prize Workshop 2014: Interview with Director Lizzy Attree


Snippets of this interview appeared in an article published this week ahead of the Caine Prize for African Writing Workshop happening in Zimbabwe this year.

Fungai Machirori (FM): Why is the Caine Prize returning to Zimbabwe? How was the decision arrived at?
Lizzy Attree (LA): The Caine Prize has long wanted to hold a workshop in Zimbabwe and support Zimbabwean writers, but has not felt the environment was right until recently.  We also found funders who were supportive of the idea, so we took the plunge.
F:M One of the challenges that has been clearly articulated around the Prize has to do with the dearth of north African winners/ finalists? Why do you think this is?
LA: I think north Africa already has a well-established literary scene and prizes that reward writers from that region, so I think that is one of the reasons we do not receive many entries from north Africa.  Much of the literature is also in Arabic, and so the issue of translation arises.  The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is a sister Prize, also backed by the Booker Trust, so we are confident that IPAF is making great strides in recognising and rewarding north African, as well as Middle Eastern literature.
FM: Wouldn’t the more logical step, therefore, be to try to hold the workshops in north Africa?
LA: We would very much like to do this and a recent visit I made to Morocco and the Casablanca Book Fair was encouraging.  We have plans to approach funders for workshops in north Africa in the near future.
F:M In 2000, when the Prize was first held, Zimbabwe still had a somewhat robust literary scene. But the nation was on the verge of it decline in the early 2000s. Is the return therefore symbolic/ strategic?
LA: There are no strategic considerations when planning workshops, certainly no political aspirations, other than ensuring the country is safe and relatively politically stable. Our only strategic concern, in terms of fairness, is that we try to cover east, south and west Africa evenly, so we have had workshops in Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda and hope soon to be in Nigeria, Zambia etc.   There is a symbolic link and many of our council members are fond of Zimbabwe for a number of reasons, but really our return is partly based on the high number and quality of entries we receive from Zimbabwean writers, and the funding conditions that make such an expensive enterprise possible.
FM: Two Zimbabweans have won the Caine Prize since its inception with NoViolet Bulawayo particularly enjoying great success since. Do you see the Caine Prize as an important gateway to get more Zimbabwean writers out into the mainstream?
LA: We aim to ensure the Caine Prize is an important gateway for all African writers to get in to the mainstream.
FM: Is the publishing partnership with amaBooks yielding significant benefits thus far?
LA: The partnership with amaBooks is fantastic for us. It is very important to the Caine Prize that the stories are read widely and are therefore locally available.
FM: Can you tell me a bit more about the participants in this year’s workshop? How were they sought and what do you expect from the workshop?
LA: Participants are selected based on the previous year’s shortlist and informed by the previous year’s entries.  So, four shortlisted authors are attending this year, unfortunately the winner, Tope Folarin, couldn’t join us due to work commitments.  We also took recommendations from the judges to invite a number of writers, as well as recommendations from other colleagues and professionals in the field of literature and publishing, as well as past winners, who we listen to closely.  We aim to have a range of writers from different countries, a mix of men and women of different abilities and to include four or five writers from the country in which the workshop takes place.
The workshop will produce 13 publishable short stories, and will involve hard work from the moment we arrive.  Our facilitators, Henrietta Rose-Innes and Nii Parkes will help the writers to shape and edit their work, as will group sessions of readings and criticism which take place daily.  The writers will also visit four senior schools near Mutare, to meet and talk with local school children. There will then be 2 events, one at the Harare City Library and one at Meikles Supermarket on 1st and 2nd April respectively.  The stories will then be published in the 2014 Caine Prize anthology, which will also include this year’s shortlisted stories, which will be announced in late April.
FM: There is often criticism levelled against the Prize for selecting literature that paints Africa in a parochial and formulaic light (hunger, strife, dictatorship, etc). What do you say to this?
LA: Really I think literature is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think the stories that have won and been shortlisted for the Caine Prize have been of a very high quality and that unfortunately it makes bigger headlines to critique writing on the basis of subject matter, than on the basis of literary or linguistic style and accomplishment.  Having said that I do hope that Caine Prize stories provide a bright window in to a continent that is often not understood in all its complexity in the West. If this window involves telling tales that are hard to read or which details the often terrible events that occur in countries all over the world, then so be it.  I cannot tell writers what to write, or editors what to publish.  We work with the stories that are sent to us every year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Perspectives on Zimbabwe’s literary scene as Caine Prize returns

by Fungai Machirori, in Voices of Africa

It is 14 years since the inaugural Caine Prize for African Writing was awarded to Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF). And while the fortunes for the Prize – one of the most prominent for African writing – have grown, the same has not held entirely for Zimbabwe’s local literary scene.
Once a prestigious event attracting regional and international visitors, ZIBF now goes by largely unnoticed. Vibrant writers’ groups like Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW) and the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe (BWAZ) have faded into near oblivion, their prolific writers’ exploits no longer published. Kingston’s – one of Zimbabwe’s flagship bookstores – has closed down its main branch on Harare’s Second Street thoroughfare, the office space now occupied by an insurance firm.
This week, however, the Caine Prize returns for the first time to Zimbabwe with its annual workshop and public events to be held over two weeks between Harare and Mutare.
“Our return is partly based on the high number and quality of entries we receive from Zimbabwean writers, and the funding conditions that make such an expensive enterprise possible,” says Lizzy Attree, director of the Caine Prize for African Writing. “The Caine Prize has long wanted to hold a workshop in Zimbabwe and support Zimbabwean writers, but has not felt the environment was right until recently.”
Amid the economic and political decline that has exacerbated, and even prompted, the shrinking of the nation’s literary space, writing and publishing have continued. The Intwasa National Short Story competition still features as a prominent part of the Intwasa Arts Festival which takes place every year in Bulawayo; an award in the name of the late celebrated writer Yvonne Vera, who died in 2005 aged 40, is given as part of the competition. At the same time, Weaver Press and amaBooks – local publishing houses – continue to produce reputable titles of Zimbabwean fiction and non-fiction.
Two Zimbabwean writers, Brian Chikwava and NoViolet Bulawayo, have also won the Caine Prize with Bulawayo in particular going on to enjoy great success with her debut novel We Need New Names. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year and this year the winner of the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature, the novel’s first chapter is the 2012 Caine Prize winning short story, “Hitting Budapest”.
NoViolet Bulawayo. (Pic: AFP)
NoViolet Bulawayo. (Pic: AFP)
Beyond these successes, however, Zimbabwe’s literary space remains insular.
“Unfortunately reading, outside school or college syllabi, is not a priority for many people in Zimbabwe,” says Jane Morris, co-founder of amaBooks Publishers. “There are people in the country who do buy new books, but the number of such buyers is limited and discerning.”
Facing resource challenges and limited sales, Morris adds that the publishing house has had to become very selective in what it chooses to publish, at times turning down viable manuscripts. While a partnership with the Caine Prize to locally publish its annual anthology is helping to raise amaBooks’ profile, Morris again cautions that sales have been limited.
Young writersAnother issue that is immediately apparent is the dearth of young Zimbabwean writers being published.
“Of course, much can be done to augment literary spaces which already exist,” suggests Novuyo Rosa Tshuma who is one of the few currently published Zimbabwean writers under the age of 30. “However, I don’t believe young writers should wait to be spoon-fed.”
Tshuma, who is 26, bears testament to the fact that there is still a space for young Zimbabwean writers to claim, both locally and internationally. A previous winner of the Intwasa competition who has had her short fiction published in local anthologies by amaBooks, Tshuma has since gone on to release a novella and short story collection titled Shadows, which is published by South Africa’s Kwela Books. She is currently studying towards a Master of Fine Arts with the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the United States. At 22, she participated in the 2010 Caine Prize Writing Workshop held in Kenya.
“The question is, if an opportunity were to present itself today, would you have something written down on the page?” she asks.
Tshuma’s question is not easily answered, with a range of factors – some already highlighted – affecting young Zimbabweans’ endeavours, or lack thereof, into creative writing.
But it is one that fellow contemporary author, Tendai Huchu, would answer in the affirmative, having published his novel The Hairdresser of Harare with Weaver Press at the age of 28.
“What I believe though, with no empirical proof, is that, because Zimbabwe has a disproportionately sized diaspora, the nation’s literature reaps the benefits of having practitioners who interact with ideas from all across the world,” opines Huchu. “And that can only be enriching.”
Migration and transnationalism are prominent themes in Zimbabwean literature of the post-2000s; a trend underscored by the mass exodus of nationals during the political upheaval of the time.
Harare North, Chikwava’s novel offering, is set in London, for instance, while the protagonist in Bulawayo’s book, Darling, moves to Michigan to flee the political chaos of her Zimbabwean homeland. Guardian First Book Award winner, Petina Gappah, also wends in narratives of Zimbabwean life abroad into her 2009 short story collection, Elegy for Easterly.
But the Caine Prize is not without its critics, many of whom feel the initiative peddles an ideological agenda that provides a template of how to write about Africa, something ironically satirised by past Caine Prize Winner, Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina.
“Unfortunately, it makes bigger headlines to critique writing on the basis of subject matter, than on the basis of literary or linguistic style and accomplishment,” states Attree, adding that the hope of the Prize is to provide a window into a continent often misunderstood in the West. “If this window involves telling tales that are hard to read or which detail the often terrible events that occur in countries all over the world, then so be it.”
In dismissing the idea of an ‘authentic’ African or Zimbabwean narrative, and producing texts about such a space, Tshuma concurs.
“I encourage every writer to discard this word, ‘authentic’, from their vocabulary when writing,” she says. “There are many different Zimbabwes and different ways of seeing Zimbabwe; I don’t feel confined at all.”
Selected from seven African countries, the 13 workshop participants will each produce a publishable short story to be featured in the 2014 Caine Prize Anthology. The workshop runs from March 21 to April 2, with the writers also visiting with schools and engaging in public talks.
Fungai Machirori is a blogger, editor, poet and researcher. She runs Zimbabwe’s first web-based platform for womenHer Zimbabweand is an advocate for using social media for consciousness-building among Zimbabweans. Connect with her on Twitter

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Giant Leap for Zimbabwean Literature in Ndebele" - KwaChirere

Thabisani Ndlovu of Witwatersrand University has translated 'Where to Now? Short Stories from Zimbabwe,' from English to Ndebele. It becomes: 'Siqondephi Manje? Indatshana zaseZimbabwe.' 

The translation, like the original collection of 2011 by ’amaBooks of Bulawayo, features stories by sixteen writers: Raisedon Baya, NoViolet Bulawayo, Diana Charsley, Mapfumo Clement Chihota, Murenga Joseph Chikowero, John Eppel, Fungai Rufaro Machirori, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Christopher Mlalazi, Mzana Mthimkhulu, Blessing Musariri, Nyevero Muza, Thabisani Ndlovu, Bryony Rheam, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Sandisile Tshuma. The original was compiled and edited by Jane Morris.


Preface to Siqondephi Manje?

One of the key aims in undertaking this translation is to contribute towards the development of the isiNdebele language by encouraging writers to write in this language. As such, it was a most opportune moment to translate some of the most well-written Zimbabwean stories in English to isiNdebele.  In English, the stories are riveting.  They take one through a journey of mixed emotions – laughter, sadness and concern.  They all demonstrate immense creativity.  Some flout rules of punctuation whereas others use various forms of narration except the linear. I tried to capture all this creativity in the isiNdebele translation. Those who read the translation will be happy to know that not much was lost.  That is because, like a doctor with a stethoscope, I took a long time listening to the heartbeat of each story. As such, you will find that the language used for each story is appropriate for the setting, content and style. It is also current language. 
Of course, some will criticise this translation, as inevitably happens with a project like this. I can almost hear some saying, “That is an English word and not an isiNdebele one,” or, “In isiNdebele, that order of letters is impermissible.”  Some are likely to say, “There are some impolite words where euphemisms should have been used.”  Here are a few examples.   All speakers of isiNdebele know ‘ifriji’ (fridge).  No one refers to it as ‘ikhabothi yomqando’ (cold cupboard) or any such ridiculous term.  Is there anyone who calls it ‘ifiriji’?  That becomes a Shona pronunciation once we insert an ‘i’ after the ‘f’.  Similarly, we say ‘iphaspoti’ and  ‘iplastiki’.  You will also find words such as   ‘hlanza’ (vomit), ‘izibunu’ (buttocks) and others like them. These words are not used gratuitously.  Using euphemisms in their place would have distorted the tone and meaning of some stories resulting in a stilted and terrible translation. That would have resulted in substandard work, ruining the beautiful stories. Then what would I claim to be the value of the work I would have done?  In any case, words that some of us say should not be part of written isiNdebele, are words we use every day, irrespective of audience.  Let us take ‘izibunu’ (buttocks). It is common to hear people say of children with inadequate clothing, “abantwana bahamba ngezibunu egcekeni” (children wear worn-out clothes that show their buttocks). Likewise, “olezibunu ezinkulu ngolezibunu ezinkulu; ongalazo kalazo” (whoever has big buttocks is said to have such and the same for small or smaller buttocks) – that is how Ndebele people speak without any profanity implied in most contexts.  Why then should we change this when we write? I am thinking specifically about events and contexts in the stories contained here.  For example, an angry character should appear as such through the language he or she uses.  Needless to say the language should suit that character.  As a translator, one of my key duties is to make sure that the translation is as close to the original text as possible, having of course, taken into account the cultural context of the Ndebele people
Times change and so do people and their languages. That is how English grew – borrowing words and quickly incorporating them into the English lexicon. Some people say isiNdebele is dying.  What I agree with them is that we have a dearth of books in the language, publications of such being too few and far between. But the language itself is very much alive and vibrant.  Current isiNdebele is not the same as isiNdebele of twenty years ago.   There are words we should accept as isiNdebele words. Examples include ‘skulufizi’ (school fees), ‘eralini’  (at a rally), ‘iklasi’ (class/ classroom), ‘ukudiza’ (to pay a bribe),  ‘drayiva’ (driver/to drive), and  ‘khastoma’ (customer).  It is a good thing to want ‘proper’ isiNdebele words such as ‘umtshayeli’ (driver) or ‘tshayela’ (drive).  But how many people use these words in everyday speech? Thus, we can enter ‘umtshayeli’ in the context of driving a vehicle as old use or an archaic word, and next to it, indicate the recent and most widely used form, ‘drayiva’.  For a language not to die and for it to be appealing even in its written form, it has to be a language that people are familiar with, not stilted and archaic. I am not implying in any way that all old words should be thrown away.  All I am saying is that words must suit the specific contexts in which they are used. We should, by the same token, be aware of new unavoidable vocabularies. People speak of ‘istayila’ (style), ‘ukungena  ku-intanethi’ (surfing the net), ‘ukuhlaba ijini’ (wearing jeans). All of this is isiNdebele proper.
People of the Mthwakazi nation, I think I have said enough.  A language that grows is one that is in constant and creative use, whose lexicon evolves with time. In its written form, such a language should reveal the creativity of the people who speak it and in particular, the novel ways in which those people capture experiences.  Once this is achieved, it will inspire other writers to be even more creative. I hope this translation will not only inspire writing in and reading of isiNdebele, but also pride in speaking this colourful language with a rich heritage.

Thabisani Ndlovu
Johannesburg 2014

Golden Baobab Prize for African Children's Literature 2014

The 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes have been launched and are calling for submissions. This year, Golden Baobab will award 6 prizes worth $20,000. These 6 prizes are:
                The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book
                The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book
                The $2,500 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers
                The $5,000 Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators
                The $2,500 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Illustrators
                The Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award

This year marks the 6th anniversary of the 3 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature. These prizes invite entries of unpublished stories for children written by African citizens irrespective of age, race, or country of origin.  In November 2013, Golden Baobab launched the fourth and fifth prizes, The Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrations, to do for African illustrators what the organization has been doing for African writers for the past 5 years: discovering, nurturing and celebrating their talent, passion and contribution to the African children’s literature space. Entrants will submit illustrations as per Golden Baobab specifications.

The newest addition, The Golden Baobab Lifetime Achievement in Children’s Literature Award, which is the 6th prize, has been set up to recognize African writers/illustrators who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding significance to the development of African children’s literature. At the appropriate time, Golden Baobab will communicate how this prize will be run.

Last year, the three Golden Baobab Prizes for literature received 180 submissions from 13 African countries. This year, the coordinator of the Prizes, Nanama B. Acheampong, is confident that these numbers will improve: “We expect to receive many more submissions for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature this year. We have also had such positive reactions to our newly launched Golden Baobab Prizes for Illustrations and are looking forward to being pleasantly surprised.”

The 2013 winners were Liza Esterhuyse from South Africa who won the Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Book, Karen Hurt, also from South Africa, who won the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book and twelve year old Kanengo Rebecca Diallo from Tanzania who won the Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers which awards promising writers below the age of eighteen.

Entry information for the prizes can be found on the organization’s website, Entrants should note that the copyright of each entry submitted to the Golden Baobab Prizes remains vested in them. However, by submitting an entry, entrants declare that they are legally entitled to do so and give Golden Baobab permission to make their entry available for exclusive worldwide royalty-free usage, reproduction and distribution. The deadline for the 2014 prizes is June 29th. Winners will be announced in November 2014.

For information on how to enter the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes, visit Golden Baobab’s website or contact the coordinator, Nanama B. Acheampong at