Pearson South Africa hosted the tenth annual Maskew Miller Longman (MML) Literature Awards on Thursday, 24 November 2016 in Cape Town to announce the winners of this national literature competition. Annually, Pearson invites experienced and aspiring writers to submit their original, unpublished stories in their mother tongue to develop quality literature in all of the official South African languages.
Award-winning South African children's author and illustrator, Niki Daly was the guest speaker at this year’s Awards ceremony, along with 14-year-old Almé Hugo, a learner at Hoërskool Zwartkop in Centurion, Pretoria. Almé is a finalist in the Afrikaans category and youngest author to be published in this competition for her novel, Speurder Nina Lucky.
The competition judges had the difficult decision of selecting only 6 finalists, from the 156 submissions received. Each year, the awards explore a different genre and this year, Pearson called for Teen Novels for ages 14 to 16 years.
Join us in congratulating the following winners from the various language categories:
Helena Barnard for ‘Gramadoelas!’ (Afrikaans)
After eight high school learners, unacquainted and very different from each other, were chosen to be part of the school’s image-building project, they are forced to spend their winter holiday in each other’s company. Anabelle, who tends to see the uniqueness of situations and “writes” it in her mind as news reports or essays, and the others are forced to tough it out in the bush while getting to know each other. They soon become a team who depends on each other. During their adventurous trip the new friends make a startling discovery. Not sure how to deal with the shocking information, they devise their own plan to solve the problem. Anabelle soon learns that she shares more similarities with her new friends than she ever thought possible.
Almé Hugo for 'Speurder Nina Lucky' (Afrikaans finalist)
Nina believes she’s special, but not the type of special that names you as a prodigy, or unveils your extraordinary talent. No, this type of special attracts all the bad luck there is in the world and dumps it on a poor thirteen-year-old. It makes you cut your hair, burn down curtains and simply drives you crazy. Her cake of life is a big fat mishap. Add a mysterious mother, three inquisitive friends, a sworn enemy and a father with a secret and the recipe for disaster is complete. The bad luck is just the cherry on top, but then a strange man with a James Bond smile makes his appearance, and along with him he brings extra icing Nina definitely did not expect. With nobody but herself and Lemony Snicket’s quotes to pull her through, she overcomes more obstacles than she ever bargained for.
Charmaine Kendal for ‘Leopard Calling’ (English)
Seventeen-year-old Sharna has a special gift – “animal kin” – the ability to communicate with animals. Sharna lives in the Cederberg mountains and her fate becomes entwined with Cape leopards which are being poached, when she responds to their distress calls. She clashes violently with Hendrik, her cruel stepfather, and is forced to flee her home. For a while, Sharna is alone and afraid, until she finds refuge, support and, eventually, romance at an animal shelter where she is able to put her gift to good use. But nothing stops Sharna from her quest to help the leopards, leading to a dramatic ending to this exciting story.
Zukiswa Pakama for ‘Akulahlwa Mbeleko Ngakufelwa’ (IsiXhosa)
Sinomtha is a talented girl who sings and can play a guitar. Her family is struggling to make ends meet after her mother lost her job, and Sinomtha often has to assist with finances by playing at gigs. Her friend, Gqiyazana, comes from a middle class family and owns a guitar. She lends her guitar to Sinomtha to play, while Sinomtha helps her with Mathematics. When Sinomtha is invited to sing for children at the children’s hospital, everybody enjoys her performance and she appears in a local newspaper. Gqiyazana is jealous and stops lending her the guitar. After a long illness, Sinomtha’s father dies. Her family want her to sing at the funeral, as she promised her father before he died, but she is worried about singing without a guitar. Her uncle from America arrives for the funeral, bringing her a guitar. She is overjoyed with the gift and gives her best performance at the funeral and also later at the doctor's conference. People are impressed by her beautiful voice and talent for playing the guitar, and she receives many tips. The money helps her mom to start a sewing business. Sinomtha and Gqiyazana mend their relationship and can now play their guitars and entertain people together.
Mbongeni Cyprian Nzimande for ‘Ayixoxeki Nakuxoxeka’ (IsiZulu)
Mugqa was born out of wedlock. When his dad dies, he is abused by his stepfather until he leaves home to stay with his grandmother. He later discovers that, according to Home Affairs, he is dead. He is plagued by many negative events in his life. He leaves school and his home to live on the streets, until he is picked up by a family who accepts and looks after him. He later becomes a successful surfer.
Musa Aubrey Baloyi for ‘Vutlhari Bya Lunya’ (Xitsonga)
Darren was only a boy when he lost his leg. He was hit by a bullet while running away behind his mother during a war. He does well in his university studies and becomes one of the university's top 10 students. After graduating he gets a well-paid job at the National Health Laboratory Services, which he later defrauds of millions of rands. He flees to Singapore with his friends, but they are later arrested and deported back to SA. They are charged with theft and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Winners received a cash prize of R10 000 and a chance to be published by Pearson. The finalist received R3500.
"I am excited that Maskew Miller Longman recognises our work, it isn't easy to find publishers who support material in African languages", says Zukiswa Pakama, winner in the isiXhosa category.
The ceremony ended with exciting news – the announcement of the genre for the 2017 MML Literature Awards, Children's Stories for ages 9 to 12.