Written word bonds past with the present

Victor Mecoamere

Through the written word humanity is able to commune with the present, past and future.

These were the poignant words of Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan at the inaugural South African Literary Awards in 2005.

He said this week that he still believes that the assertion holds true regarding the impact of the awards in the lives of established and emerging writers and the general reading public.

Jordan, in explaining how humanity can continue to commune with the past, present and future, said hopefully young people will read and write and continue this tradition. Then future generations can build on the foundations laid by past and present readers and writers, he said.

Jordan will address the 2008 awards at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Monday evening. He said he hoped the awards would help encourage people to read.

He is very excited about Band of Troubadours, which he will launch at the awards. The compilation contains the work of the 43 writers who were honoured between 2005 and 2007.

Jordan said such works help to preserve the work of our writers, while the awards help to show that we appreciate them.

"Such investments in literature, arts and culture are crucial and they help to preserve our heritage and stimulate a healthy culture of artistic expression," Jordan said.

On Monday, long overdue honour and homage will be given to living literary practitioners, legends and to others posthumously, said the awards' project director, Raks Seakhoa of the wRite Associates.

"This is the result of a partnership between the national ministry of arts and culture, the premier arts, culture and heritage events strategy specialists, the wRite associates, media and publishing partners Sowetan and Nutrend Publishers, respectively"

Seakhoa said a new category this year is the Literary Translators Award, which joins the:

l National Poet Laureate Prize;

l Lifetime Achievement Literary Award;

l Posthumous Literary Award;

l Literary Journalism Award;

lK Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award; and

lNadine Gordimer Short-story Award - for Writing in African Languages.

"In 2005 we bestowed the status of National Poet Laureate or Imbongi Yesizwe Jikelele on Professor Mazisi Kunene for his selflessness and dedication in championing African literature, particularly in African languages," Seakhoa said. Keorapetse Kgositsile was Poet Laureate in December 2006.