2018 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards winners announced

The winners of the 2018 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards have been announced.

The Humanities and Social Sciences Awards laud the creative contributions of academics, curators and artists based at participating South African universities.

Submissions comprised 39 non-fiction books, nine fiction books, 10 creative collections and seven digital contributions, and represented 23 publishers.

Over 30 academics were selected as judges and reviewers, led by the Chairs: Dr Thoko Mnisi (digital humanities), Professor Jyoti Mistry (creative collection), Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola (books – fiction) and Professor Hlonipha Mokoena (books – non-fiction).

NIHSS CEO Professor Sarah Mosoetsa said: ‘The HSS Awards were born of a strategic intent to build a robust post-apartheid higher education system shaped by an equally spirited HSS, while
promoting, recognising and celebrating members of the HSS community who are creating post-apartheid and post-colonial forms of scholarship, creative and digital humanities productions. They
honour outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship as well as digital contributions.

‘The impressive collection of books, creative and digital submissions, signals a growing HSS scholarship in dialogue with itself and broader society. Submissions explore, boldly challenge as well as address pertinent societal issues. For many who might still be asking that dreaded question, “What is the value of the humanities and social sciences?” In light of this year’s collection, I am pleased
that this has been rendered an obsolete question.

‘It is pleasing that the HSS narrative is taking seriously its role of shaping and redefining the South African and the broader continental African agenda. Although more effort is needed to support and promote such work to build a convincing body of African languages.’


2018 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards winners


Best Non-fiction: Edited Volume

  • Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa: Past and Present by Brian Willan, Janet Remmington and Bhekizizwe Peterson (Wits University Press)

Judging panel comment: This collection of essays focuses on Sol Plaatje’s Native Life in South Africa through a multimodal approach thereby allowing readers from multiple disciplines to access and find relevant pieces of the puzzle. This is done in manner which gives the original text a contemporary feel thereby touching on very critical current themes such as identity, discrimination, media censorship, gender just to mention a few. The essays are well presented and present a balanced critique of the original text. The book comprises photographs, maps, copies of old newspapers, poems in different languages. This is innovation at its best. This collection couldn’t have come at the right time and touching on issues of student protests, decolonisation of the curriculum, the radical economic transformation, to mention a few.

Best Non-fiction: Edited volume

  • Hanging on a Wire: Photographs by Sophia Klaase edited by Siona O’Connell and Rick Rohde (Fourthwall Books)

Judging panel comment: The visual language of the photographs presented in this book is a powerful account of what it means to be young, rural and poor in South Africa. The photographs cover a range of social interactions from weddings, 21st birthday parties to funerals. But, more importantly, the photographer captures people as they wish to be captured by the camera – irreverent, jubilant, mourning and wrapped up in the insignia of popular and global cultures.

Best Non-fiction: Monograph

  • My Own Liberator: A Memoir by Dikgang Moseneke (Pan Macmillan)

Judging panel comment: Dikgang Moseneke’s book contributes to the diversification of the history of South Africa’s complex liberation struggle. His memoirs go a great deal in filling a critical gap by telling the story of the PAC particularly on the question of negotiations. His memoir advances a new angle on existing knowledge.

Best Fiction: Single authored volume

  • Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and Other Stories by Jolyn Phillips (Modjaji Books)

Judging panel comment: The book’s quality and style of writing is of high standard. Its content is South African. Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and Other Stories is a long-awaited body of knowledge about the lives of the very ordinary, the poor and marginalised. It is a strikingly original work of narrative fiction based on the mimetics of life. The texture of the writing is finely laced and covers a wide range of emotional modalities from the tragic to comical.

Creative Collection: Best Visual Art

  • ‘When the Moon Waxes Red’, Installation Art by Sharlene Khan

Judging panel comment: Sharlene Khan’s work is located within her personal historical narrative and yet speaks to issues we are well acquainted with which transcend culture, tradition and form part of our contemporary discourse on reflections on lives affected through a colonial/apartheid and post-apartheid lens.

Creative Collection: Best Theatre

  • ‘Kafkas Ape’, Theatre by Phala O Phala, Tony Bonani Miyambo and Franz Kafka

Judging panel comment: When I heard that Tony Miyambo, a young actor, was presenting this 1917 classic, I was scared for him, but when he entered the stage, my fears dissipated. He was commanding, convincing and I was absorbed and captured. He was an ape. I knew then that transforming into a human being, which he is, will come naturally and importantly, his physical build allows it and he used it to the fullest. He can swing and leap and gibber like an ape. Today we leave in a South Africa society where identity matters. What it is means to be black, coloured and white. What do we need as people, what do we desire. Why do we judge each other based on skin colour. Miyambo as the Ape brings this questions to the fore with flawless performance that is not supported by ape costumes but rather by the inner emotional strength and the understanding of the role.

Creative Collection: Best Musical Composition

  • ‘Noem My Skollie’ by Kyle Shepherd

Judging panel comment: This body of work’s music score was evocative, subtle (sparse), conscious of what it was written for; exciting to listen to even out of the context of the film. The work is refreshing and honest in its rendering. It offers a taste and reflection of South Africa and in particular, township life with its rawness and sharp survival of street life.

Digital Humanities: Best DH Project for Community Engagement

  • Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa Critical Edition in Six Volumes by Christine Lucia

Judging panel comment: This is one of the rare contributions to both the field and the scholarship of digital humanities that focuses on one of the most neglected, yet popular areas embraced by most southern African communities: choral music. The project is a great preservation of the historic work that spread across many decades. It will be used by other researchers to produce more research work.

The awards ceremony was held at John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre on 15 March.


Categories Fiction Non-fiction South Africa

Tags Awards Bhekizizwe Peterson Brian Willan Christine Lucia Dikgang Moseneke Franz Kafka Hanging on a Wire Humanities and Social Sciences Awards Janet Remmington Jolyn Phillips Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa Kafkas Ape Kyle Shepherd Modjaji Books My Own Liberator News Noem My Skollie Pan Macmillan SA Phala O Phala Sharlene Khan Sol Plaatje's Native Life in South Africa Sophia Klaase Tjieng Tjang Tjerries Tony Bonani Miyambo When the Moon Waxes Red Wits University Press

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