Mashile Wins NOMA Award

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(South African performance poet won NOMA Award for her first published book.)

The 2006 Noma Award went to South Africa’s Lebogang Mashile for her publication of a poetry anthology In a Ribbon of Rhythm. The book was published by Oshun Books, South Africa, in 2005, and co-published with the Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust.

“We have pleasure in announcing the results of the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa 2006,” said Mary Jay, who is the Secretary to the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa at Witney-Oxon, UK. “This is a powerful voice which has great beauty, delight and meaning. The poet weaves her feelings, experiences and expectations around the story of her life, which merges with the story of the struggle for freedom among South Africans. In masterly and sonorous style, the poetry has a distinct oral flavor, developing oral poetry and performance beyond the boundaries of the poetry of the era of resistance,” reads the Jury’s citation reads in part, adding that, “From the personal to the wider world, this is fresh philosophical writing, movingly declaiming the pride of heritage. These poems are the spoken word in all its beauty, power and elegance.”

Lebogang Mashile is one of South Africa’s best-known spoken word poets. Writer, performer and actor, this is the first published work of her performance poetry, which was edited by Don Mattera. The poetry is infused with the hip-hop beat that has made performance poetry a mainstream cultural revolution in South Africa. Recognizing the power of art to heal, this first published work shows what it means to be a young, black woman with confidence and soul.

The 27-years-old Lebogang Mashile is a young actor, writer and facilitator who was born to an exiled South African family when in the United States.  She has been living, studying, learning and growing in South Africa since her family came back home in 1994. According to the Secretary to the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, Mary Jay, the Noma Award, under the auspices of UNESCO, will be presented to Lebogang Mashile at a special ceremony details of which will be announced later.

A total of 105 titles, from 63 African publishers, in 15 countries, in eight languages, were submitted for the 2006 competition. The Jury singled out a further two titles for Special Commendation, and two titles for Honorable Mention.
The Noma Award Jury is chaired by Walter Bgoya from Tanzania, one of Africa’s most distinguished publishers, with wide knowledge of both African and international publishing. The other members of the Jury in 2006 were: Professor Peter Katjavivi, Ambassador of the Republic of Namibia to the Federal Republic of Germany and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia; Professor Femi Osofisan, head of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan, and past director of the National Theatre in Nigeria; and Mary Jay, Secretary to the Managing Committee (the Jury). The Award is sponsored by Kodansha Ltd, Japan.

Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London.

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