Rhodes Scholar shortlisted for Literary Award

Rhodes Scholar shortlisted for Literary Award
Rhodes Scholar shortlisted for Literary Award

Professor Pamela Maseko, Associate Professor in the African Language Studies Section in the School of Languages and Literatures has been shortlisted for the prestigious South African Literary Awards (SALA) for the book William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories and Poetry (1873 – 1888) and D.L.P. Yali-Manisi  Imbali Zamanyange (Historical Poems).

Both books, co-edited and co-translated with Prof Jeff Opland and Wandile Kuse, and with Prof Opland respectively, have been shortlisted for the 2017 Literary Translators Awardcategory. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, 7 November 2017 in Gauteng.

The books are the first two volumes of the Publications of Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature Series, an academic library Opland assembled in the course of his research into Xhosa folklore, praise poetry, and the history of Xhosa literature. Opland and Maseko are the General Editors of the Series, published by the University of KwaZulu Natal Press.

The Series presents diplomatic editions with English translations of significant works in isiXhosa, previously unrecognised or unavailable as published books.

“This nomination recognises our scholarly endeavours in using translation to enable access to isiXhosa literature of the 19th and early 20th century. Considering the craft that goes into establishing English equivalents for isiXhosa words, this nomination is an affirmation that the strategies we have adopted are outstanding,” said Prof Maseko.

 With a PhD in Sociolinguistics, Prof Maseko currently teaches Sociolinguistics with a focus Applied Language Studies. One of her teaching and research areas is Translation Studies: Theory and Practice. She has translated and adapted various scientific, literary fictional and non-fictional texts into isiXhosa, including texts in the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu, Mvezo and the Bhunga Building in Mthatha. With Jeff Opland she serves as General Editor of the Publications of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature. Her research has been published in journals and as book chapters both locally and abroad. She is also an executive member of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa.

Prof Maseko has been shortlisted as one of twenty-eight South Africa’s authors for the 2017 SALA. This year marks the highest milestone for the awards as the shortlist includes, for the first time, the! Xam and! Kun languages.

About the Book: William Wellington Gqoba (1840-1888)

Gqoba is a prominent African intellectual from the Eastern Cape. By trade, he was a wagon maker, licensed preacher of the Free Church of Scotland, teacher, historian, poet, folklorist, and editor. For much of his brief life, he served at mission stations as a catechist, and he ended his career as editor of the Lovedale newspaper Isigidimi sama-Xhosa.

He contributed subversive poetry that was outspokenly critical of Western education, the European administration of black people, and the discrimination suffered by colonised blacks.

Unrivalled in his time in the generic range of his writing, he was the author of letters, anecdotes, expositions of proverbs, histories, and poetry, including two poems in the form of debates that stood for over 50 years as the longest poems in the Xhosa language.

This book assembles and translates into English all of William Wellington Gqoba's clearly identifiable writings. They offer an insider's perspective on an African nation in transition: adapting uncomfortably to Western mores and morality, seeking to affirm its identity by drawing on its past, and standing on the brink of mobilisation to resist white control and to construct its social, political, and religious independence of European colonialism.

The future of African literature, according to Prof Maseko, is to translate and publish as many of these texts as possible - many of which appeared in isiXhosa in newspapers.

“We have five volumes in the series up to date and two more volumes will be published in 2018. We are working on John Ntsiko, the Harp of the Nation and another volume by Samuel E. Krune Mqhayi. What would be ideal is to build a literary archive that recognises this Eastern Cape literary heritage,” she said. 

Source:  Communications

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