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MEDIA STATEMENT on the Inaugural Conference of the National Writers’ Association of South Africa – 22 March 2021

History was made in South Africa on 20-21 March 2021 when the National Writers’ Association of South Africa (NWASA) was inaugurated. The conference coincided with the Human Rights commemoration month whereby writers in South Africa stamped a historic moment in the literary calendar of the continent and the diaspora.

History was made in South Africa on 20-21 March 2021 when the National Writers’ Association of South Africa (NWASA) was inaugurated. The conference coincided with the Human Rights commemoration month whereby writers in South Africa stamped a historic moment in the literary calendar of the continent and the diaspora. This is the month that celebrates, among others, indigenous languages, International Theatre Month, International Women’s Day, and Morena Moshoeshoe’s Day.

In line with the conference theme, a new beginning that has been lingering for the last two years, with plans for the earlier launch was disrupted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent declaration of the lockdown with stringent regulations forbidding public gatherings. The envisaged launch was aborted when the organisation suffered another huge blow that came with the passing of the founding interim President, Nana Kefuoe Walter Chakela. The theme of the conference was New Beginnings for SA Writers: Towards a New African Dawn?

Although the conference was virtual, the coordination of proceedings was conducted from the Rovzi estate, Heidelberg, Gauteng.

The conference was attended by delegates across the country, Ghana, Nigeria, Berlin, Canada and Syria. Among the international guests were Ambassador Barry Gilder (Syria), Eugene Skeef (London) and Dr. Wale Okediran, Ghana.

Dr. Okediran is the Secretary General of the Ghana-based Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), an umbrella body of writers’ organisations in Africa. Dr. Okediran officiated some of the proceedings. Author and prominent academic Prof Njabulo Ndebele and poet, Prof. Mongane Wally Serote, delivered guest lectures; setting the tone for two days of deliberations that included policy discussions, the tabling of resolutions and declarations on key strategic issues, as well as the announcement and anointment of the National Steering Committee (NSC). The newly-elected leaders are:

Abdul Mogale – President


Nthabiseng Jahrose Jafta – Deputy President

Secretary General – Dr. Lebogang Lance Nawa

Deputy Secretary General – Fiona Khan

Treasurer – Eunice Rakhale-Molefe

Additional members: Kabelo Kgatea, Geruza Bumba, Saul Molobi, Vonani Bila, Dr. Nompucuko Zakaza, and Sobhna Poona.

One of the highlights of the conference was the conferring of the following awards:

Rising Star Award: This recognition is given to young individuals (NWASA members) who show enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and potential in the area of expertise they intend to grow into as they make their own marks on their career paths; and was awarded to Sibahle Madliwa, a 13 year-old author of the book, Piki in Fegypt.

President’s Choice Award: NWASA President is accorded the exclusive prerogative to identify a person, NWASA member or non-member, considered worthy of an honour for exceptional characteristics and other considerations in the field of literature or the arts in general; and this was awarded to Nthabiseng Jahrose Jafta.

Grand Patron of the Arts Award: This honour is reserved for people who are considered polymaths in their spheres of expertise. These are individuals who embody and display extraordinary or exceptional qualities of being pioneers, trailblazers, visionaries, versatile leaders, and cross-over practitioners in the arts and culture sphere. These are cultural practitioners who muster – against all odds – the courage, bravery and foresight to challenge conventions, break new grounds and open new cultural avenues of vistas; it was awarded to a number of luminaries, namely; Prof. Njabulo Ndebele, Prof. Atukwei Okai (post humous), Dr. Don Mattera, Sanusi Credo Mutwa and Mme Mamothibeli Sehlabo.

Life-time Achievement Award: This award is for deserving personalities who have invested their entire lives in honing skills in their chosen area of expertise or trade in the literature sphere. The measure of excellence in this regard would be prolific outputs through unique application of tools of trade in the chosen field of expertise; and it was awarded to Dr. Gcina Mhlophe and James Matthews.

The conference also launched its flagship literary journal, Calabash, and also opened a YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/n3IPwtLfUhI) through which some of the proceedings were beamed live.

The conference passed the following declaration: Rovzi Land-Cyber Declaration.
And it reads):

The National Writers Association of South Africa (NWASA) convened a virtual Inaugural General Assembly on 20 and 21 March 2021, with the Office Bearers coordinating proceedings from Rovzi estate, Heidelberg, Gauteng. Other members participated online from all parts of the world including Ghana, Nigeria, London, Canada, and Syria.

Members were inducted by the Secretary General of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), Dr. Wale Okediran, through the reading of a NWASA Membership Credo. PAWA is an umbrella body of writers’ organisations in Africa. The Membership Credo prescribes the character of a member, conduct and commitment.

We received Messages of Support from Nigeria; PAWA; the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Minister and Sports, H.E. Mr Nathi Mthethwa; and the former President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr Kgalema Motlanthe.

The General Assembly was enriched by inputs from Professor Njabulo Ndebele and Dr. Mongane Wally Serote.

We congratulate recipients of different Awards, whose names and citations will be available on our website.

The General Assembly declares that:

We are committed to the promotion of writers, reading, promotion of literature in all South African languages, as well as assisting writers to publish their work. To broaden our market and to position our cultural outputs as public diplomacy arsenals, we will support translation of our literature into foreign languages.

We strive to establish relations with writers’ organisations in Africa and the rest of the world, through which we will encourage cultural exchanges.

That NWASA steering committee, and general members, are committed to the protection of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and therefore urge all citizens – irrespective of their social or other standing in society – to do likewise. We value the rule of law.

We deep our banner in honour of those of our members who have passed on in the past three years, Nana Kefuoe Walter Chakela, Moses Mitileni, Sefako Mohlomi and Sipho Mnyakeni. May their souls rest in peace!

END

For further enquiries, contact NWASA Secretary-General, Dr. Lebogang Lance Nawa

urge all citizens irrespective of their social or other standing in society to do likewise. We value the rule of law.

We deep our banner in honour of those of our members who have passed on in the past three years, Nana Kefuoe Walter Chakela, Moses Mitileni, Sefako Mohlomi and Sipho Mnyakeni. May their souls rest in peace!

END

For further enquiries, contact NWASA Secretary-General, Dr. Lebogang Lance Nawa