UJ academics win South African Literary Awards

Two academics from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) have been awarded the prestigious South African Literary Award (SALA) in the Best Creative Non-Fiction category. Dr Siphiwo Mahala, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English, and Professor Mandla J Radebe, the Associate Professor: Strategic Communication and Director for the Centre for Data and Digital Communications, were recognised for their outstanding works, Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi and The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo, respectively.

Dr Mahala’s book, Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi, is an in-depth exploration of the life and work of Can Themba, a prominent South African intellectual and writer during the apartheid era. The book delves into Themba’s complex persona, his contributions to South African literature, and the social and political context in which he lived and worked.

Photo Cred: Brittle Paper

Says Dr Mahala: “ I am deeply honored to share the South African Literary Award for Best Creative Non-Fiction with my esteemed colleague and friend, Prof Mandla J. Radebe. This award is a testament to the years of research and writing that culminated in the book ‘Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi’ (Wits University Press, 2022). I am eternally grateful to the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences for their unwavering support throughout this journey. Winning this coveted award has provided me with an affirmation that I did not know I needed. This book represents my contribution to the scholarship of Black intellectual history and to the reconstruction of the legacy of Can Themba, an intellectual luminary who tragically passed away more than five decades ago.”

Prof Radebe’s book, The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo, is the first comprehensive biography of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo, a key figure in the South African liberation movement. The book traces Nxumalo’s life from his early years in rural South Africa to his untimely death in London in 1991. It explores his intellectual and political journey, his contributions to the anti-apartheid struggle, and his enduring influence on South African thought.

Photo Cred: Book Circle Capital

Prof Radebe echoed Dr Mahala’s sentiments adding that this recognition is one that he will always cherish. “I wish to extend my appreciation to the wRite associates, the founder and custodian of these Awards, the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the strategic partner for the awards and the North-West University as the host. Most importantly, my appreciation goes to Jacana Media the publisher of this book. The Lost Prince of the ANC: The Life and Times of Jabulani Nobleman ‘Mzala’ Nxumalo, was a labour of love, a journey of discovery and remembrance. I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to share this story, a piece of South African history, which is now has been recognised.”

The SALA recognition for Dr Mahala and Prof Radebe is a testament to their exceptional scholarship and their commitment to telling the stories of South Africa’s past. Their works offer valuable insights into the country’s rich history and cultural heritage, and they serve as a reminder of the important role of intellectuals in shaping society.

The University’s Faculty of Humanities is immensely proud of the achievements of Dr Mahala and Professor Radebe. “Their dedication to research and their passion for storytelling has brought them this well-deserved recognition. The Faculty congratulates them on their outstanding contributions to South African literature and scholarship,” said Prof Kammila Naidoo, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, UJ.

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