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BTA/ANGLO PLATINUM SHORT STORY COMPETITION (article first published : 2007-09-30)

The 13th BTA/Anglo Platinum short story competition, with R65,000 in prize money, announced today its top five stories for 2007. The top five authors chosen this year are, in no particular order, Trevor Crisp for The Landscape, Lourens Erasmus for Football Farm; Lauri Kubitsile for The Christmas Wedding; Tsireledzo Mushoma for A New Beginning and Jenny Robson for The Wordsmith.

Managed by reading activist Beulah Thumbadoo, the competition, has helped to give a voice to thousands of ordinary South Africans and promoted a wealth of local writing. More than 14,000 stories have been sent in from throughout Southern Africa since its inception.

“Every other development item on our national agenda is meaningless if we don't get reading right,” says the publicity material. “Literacy is crucial - we need to become a nation of readers and writers, and Africa needs books if this is to become a reality. The remarkable success of the BTA/Anglo Platinum short story competition and the enthusiasm displayed for the Million Books campaign is a clear indication that Africa has a yearning for books.”

Entrants were asked to write a gripping and original story of between 4,500 to 5,000 words. The competition is unique in that it focuses on content over form, understanding that many entrants will be writing in their second or third language. Story quality and creativity are the key criteria and entrants are not penalized for imperfect grammar and spelling. As such, stories are submitted from all walks of life throughout Southern Africa.

Last year Renee Muller won first prize for her tale, Mrs Tilbury’s Cast-offs, about an old lady who invites local children into her home to sing along as she revisits her piano. Renee is a former drama, language and education practitioner, and is currently a writer and translator in Cape Town.

This year was no different, and the five winners ranged from a 76 year old retired Johannesburg man, to a 23 year old Capetonian student. This is also the first year in the history of the competition where a story has been selected for a top five position from outside South Africa: The Christmas Wedding was written by Lauri Kubitsile, from Botswana.

With the highest submission of any writing competition in the world, the competition has been very successful in raising awareness about writing and reading. The prize money for the competition, totalling R65,000 (with R25,000 for first prize), is among the highest for any short story writing competition.

The final ranking of the winners will be announced at the prize-giving ceremony in Johannesburg on October 4.

This is the eighth year that Anglo Platinum is sponsoring this competition. Once again, a piece of platinum jewellery from the Djadji range is up for grabs in a special prize category (the platinum prize for creativity).

Anglo Platinum is committed to supporting the development of education in South Africa and does much towards building schools and infrastructure. The short story competition is its special creative project.




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