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M-NET LITERARY AWARDS (article first published : 2005-10-17)

Accolades keep coming for South African writers who write in all 10 indigenous languages as the annual M-Net Literary Awards get underway. Launched 15 years ago, the M-Net Literary Awards has established itself as the yardstick of literary excellence in indigenous languages. The M-Net Literary Awards are attracting more and more entries each year.

The number of entries received last year exceeded all expectations, heralding the dawn of a new era, where the competition was opened to all published creative works for the first time. This year the competition is open to all published works written in African languages, created between January 1995 and December 2005 and Afrikaans published works from January 2005 to December 2005.

“Since the inception of this project Afrikaans has always had a substantial number of entries and although we saw a marked increase in number of books submitted in other indigenous languages, we’d love to see many more in those indigenous languages,” said Glen Marques, CEO M-Net. “It is vital that the M-Net Literary Awards both nurture and create new works.”

For the purpose of M-Net Literary Awards, all published works submitted in 10 official indigenous languages will be grouped in five language categories: Nguni (IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, IsiNdebele, SeSwazi), SeSotho (South Sotho, North Sotho, SeTswana), TshiVenda, SeTsonga and Afrikaans.

For judging purposes the books will be categorised as follows: Long-format (novels and drama for African languages, novels only for Afrikaans); Short-format (short stories), and Poetry (single volumes only, no omnibus).

The overall prize totals to an amount of R160,000 in cash. Long format categories such as novels and drama will be awarded R20,000; the short format categories like short stories will be awarded R5,000 and poetry will also be awarded R5,000.

In addition to all the categories, M-Net will award one writer who has made an outstanding contribution to the literary fraternity with a Lifetime Achievement Award. This award carries a prize of R10,000.

The judging criteria range from literary merit and strong narrative content to accessibility to a broad reading public. All entries will be judged in each category by an esteemed panel of key players in the literary field. Included in the panel will be advisors Professor Cynthia Marivate (CEO, Pan South Africa Language Board), Hettie Scholtz (publishing consultant and book editor) and Mothobi Mutloatse (writer and a publisher). All the judges hold a respectable position in the language departments of different universities around South Africa.

The M-Net Literary Awards aim to encourage the publication of original works in the indigenous languages of the country. This is in line with the Language Clause in the Constitution, which challenges language and communication bodies to promote the use of all the languages of South Africa, and most importantly to nurture previously marginalised indigenous languages.

Other rules for M-Net Literary Awards include: a book previously submitted in this competition in another language or which has been published elsewhere in any other language will not be eligible for entry. This condition thus precludes adaptations and translations.

Publishers or individuals may enter books for the M-Net Literary Awards, provided that the consent of the author, his/her heir or authorized representative has been obtained in writing.

Ten copies of each book entered must be forwarded, together with the attached entry form to The Administrator, M-Net Literary Awards, P.O. Box 2963, Pinegowrie, 2123, South Africa. Phone 011 686 6048, fax 011 686 6643 or e-mail: bmakama@mnet.co.za

The closing date is December 31, 2005, and entry forms can be obtained by calling the Administrator on 011 686 6048 or visiting the M-Net website at www.mnet.co.za




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