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2004 M-NET BOOK PRIZE (article first published : 2004-06-28)

Every year the M-Net Book Prize gives accolades to the literary works of South African indigenous writers. Now in its 13th year of operation, this prestigious award announced its winners at a glitzy function held in collaboration with Via Afrika and M-Net.

A total of 12 indigenous language books were entered for the 2004 M-Net Book Prize competition. After much deliberation, a panel of esteemed literary judges, led by Pan South Africa Language Board CEO, Professor Cynthia Marivate and Mr Mothobi Mutloatse, Managing Director of the South African Recording Industry, announced that three of the 12 books had qualified as finalists for this year’s M-Net Book Prize Competition.

The Nguni category led the field with three books vying for the R20,000 winning prize. Iziboshwa Zothando (Prisoners of Love) by Matthews Jabulani Mngadi was the overall winner in the African indigenous category.

“The story fills in the gap of untold stories during the apartheid era by depicting the horrors of apartheid and the complex relationships between whites and blacks and the coloured race. With its informative storylines yet enjoyable to read, Mngadi’s book was miles ahead of its counterparts,” says Professor Marivate.

Professor Elize Botha led the selection process under Afrikaans category with other honoured judges. An outstanding number of 42 novels were submitted and Niggie by Ingrid Winterbach, Eilande by Daniel Sleigh, and Begeerte by Eben Venter were selected for finalists. In the end, Eilande walked away with 2004 M-Net Book Prize in the Afrikaans category. All winning novelists were awarded with a R20,000 cash prize.

In all indigenous categories, including Afrikaans, no manuscripts were selected for finalists as none met the literary standards set in judging criteria. Also none of the novels entered for TshiVenda, XiTsonga and SeSotho could be considered as finalists.

“From these three languages, the books submitted did not meet the level of a novel, and therefore are novelettes. And they did not meet criteria for selection set for the M-Net Book Prize,” says Professor Marivate

The criteria for selection is- Literary Merit, Strong Narrative content, accessibility to a broad reading public and relevance to actualities

“Each year the advisers in this competition discuss the criteria for selection. And each year the goal of the M-Net Book Prize is to set standards higher than the last one so that the writers constantly improve their writing skills. This enables them to lead in this competitive environment and to constantly better themselves,” says Glen Marques- CEO M-Net. “In recognition of the crucial role that literature plays in the development of a culture of reading, M-Net is pleased to reward published novelists and writers for their contribution and to be associated with the competition of this nature.”




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