University of Johannesburg: UJ recognises multilingual ethos with creative writing prizes

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Prize for South African Writing, also known as the UJ Prize, was instituted in 2006. Since then some exciting names in South African literature have been shortlisted and awarded the UJ Prizes for Creative Writing in English and in Afrikaans. From this year (2021) onwards, UJ will also be awarding prizes for creative writing in Sesotho sa Leboa and isiZulu.

Says Professor Marné Pienaar, the Head of UJ’s Multilingual Language Services Office: “There is a need for the promotion and preservation of our country’s languages and culture in the 21st century. South African languages are protected by the Constitution and UJ is fully committed to the values enshrined in the Constitution. At UJ, we pride ourselves on the multicultural diversity of our students and academic body. We live in a multicultural country, therefore there is a need for multilingual recognition.”

Prof Pienaar adds that through the new categories, the University wants to acknowlegde the role language plays in establishing a sense of pride and belonging. “In addition, the UJ Prize for Literary Translation will also be awarded for the first time this year.”

The entries for the 2021 UJ Prize (isiZulu,Sesotho sa Leboa and Literary Translation) are now open and will close on 31 May 2021. The winners of each category will receive R70 000.00; the overall winner and the best debut will receive R35 000.00 each, and the 2021 UJ Prize for Literary Translation will receive R50 000.00.

The prize-winners will be announced in August and the prizes will be awarded later in the year.

Prof Pienaar concludes: “There are no limitations or requirements regarding the genre. Entries are thus not limited to the strict traditional categories and literary genres, or exclusively to fiction, or what is referred to as ‘creative writing’. It can be non-fiction, biographies, history writing, and so on, written in isiZulu or Sesotho sa Leboa. However, the requirement for the prizes for creative writing in isiZulu and Sesotho sa Leboa is different from that for the prize for Literary Translation. The prize is awarded for the translation of a literary text from any language into any of the official South African languages or the translation of a literary text from one official South African language into any other official South African language.

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