A Landmark Ruling in South Africa - NY Times
Nadine Gordimer, a Vice President of PEN International, writes in the New York Review of Books on the Protection of State Information Bill.
FAREWELL TO BOEKEHUIS BOOKSHOP, JOHANNESBURG
1st: Sean O’Toole for The road to Rephile
2nd: Elizabeth Ann Pienaar for Breaking down the house
3rd: Justin Fox for Big Game
Honourable mention: Lee Olivier for A death too soon
Boekehuis was the Naspers flagship bookshop of Johannesburg and its demise is mourned by many - including SA PEN. We would like to say thank you Corina for your positive bookselling role. The vagaries of the market are a reality for all publishing companies today and I would also like to thank Ton Vosloo, Chairman of Naspers, for his company's loyal financial support of PEN over the years.
SA PEN itself needs to be aware of the realities of the market and I am sad to announce that our PEN "New Writing" series ended with the publication of African Pens 2011 by Jacana Media in May last year. We are looking at alternative ways of encouraging young writers in the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community.
"Littera scripta manet", the written word remains. Despite the exponential growth of the ebook market, quality print-products and quality writing will survive. Global systems of information delivery are changing so rapidly. Despite an exciting digital future for writers, the printed book will still find its niche in local and regional markets. Digital delivery may win globally, traditional local bookshops may be obliged to close, but "software" from writers will still rule!
Delivery is one skill - creation another!
Corina, will you perhaps be managing a global literary website to be called - WRITE24?
PRESIDENT, SA PEN
ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS - THOMAS PRINGLE AWARDS 2011
Category: ReviewsThe 2011 Thomas Pringle Award for Reviews is awarded to Mary Corrigall for a portfolio of reviews published in The Sunday Independent.
The adjudicators of the award noted the following:
"In reading Corrigall's reviews, one is struck by one outstanding quality – her acuity. Whether she is reading words on a page or looking at shapes and colours at an art or photography exhibition, Corrigall has a particularly rare capacity to see things sharply and keenly. Quite apart from Corrigall's sharpness of perception, however, there is also a pleasing lucidity in the way she writes about the different media she focuses on. Her reviews are commendable, therefore, not only for their insights, but also for the crisp and energetic manner in which these insights are expressed."
Mary Corrigall is an arts critic and senior feature writer at The Sunday Independent newspaper. She is also a research fellow at the Research Centre for Visual Identities in Art and Design, at the University of Johannesburg. Her articles have been widely published in magazines and newspapers, local and international art publications and peer-reviewed academic journals. In 2007 she won a coveted CNN African Journalism award and was awarded the Thomas Pringle Award for Reviews by the English Academy of Southern Africa in 2009. In the same year the European Commission awarded her a Lorenzo Natali award for Journalism.
The two other candidates who were shortlisted for this award are Robyn Sassen and Gwen Podbrey.
Robyn Sassen, a seasoned reviewer, is commended for the clarity and crispness of reviews that covered mainly theatre and art, encouraging audience attendance and offering terse insights.
Gwen Podbrey demonstrated that she is a master of conciseness in reviews that expose the reader to the possibilities and pleasures in a range of literary works, from pure fiction to works with a biographical slant.
Judges: Dr Lynda Gilfillan (Convener), Dr Glenda Cleaver and Ms Kate McCallum
Category: Educational ArticleThe 2011 Thomas Pringle Award for an article on English in education and the teaching of English published in a South African academic journal in 2009-2010 is awarded jointly to Aslam Fataar for his article "Youth self-formation and the 'capacity to aspire': The itinerant 'schooled career' of Fuzile Ali across post-apartheid space', which was published in Perspectives in Education 28(3), and to Charles van Renen for his article "Dahl's chickens: How do they roost in the 21st century?", published in the Journal for Language Teaching 43(2).
The judges were unanimous in making a joint award on the grounds that both articles make a highly valuable contribution to research in English teaching and learning in southern Africa: Fataar's at a broad sociological level and van Renen's at a more specific pedagogic level. Fataar demonstrates to us the complex contexts that lie behind our students' schooling trajectories, while van Renen demonstrates the importance of literature in developing language competence in classrooms. In this sense, the two articles are complementary both in their foci and in their significance for English education in this country.
Aslam Fataar is currently Professor and Head of the Education Policy Studies Department at Stellenbosch University. He is a former lecturer at the University of the Western Cape. His area of interest is Sociology of Education and his research focuses on policy reform and education in urban spaces. He has authored one book, Education Policy Development in South Africa's Democratic Transition, 1994-1997 (2010), and is currently completing a book on educational subjectivities in an urban context. He is a NRF B-rated scientist, which is an acknowledgement of international academic standing. Professor Fataar has also published widely in national and international journals. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, the Southern African Review of Education. He is a recently appointed member of the Western Cape Education Council and a member of the UNESCO country committee on Education.
Charles van Renen is a senior lecturer in the Education Faculty of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). His field of specialisation is English methodology and children's literature. Prior to his appointment at the NMMU he lectured at the Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University, was a senior research officer with the Molteno Project at Rhodes University, and a lecturer at the Graaff-Reinet Teachers' College. Over the past few years he has published in journals such as Perspectives in Education, Journal for Language Teaching, Journal of Educational Studies and Journal of Literary Studies.
Judges: Professor Denise Newfield (convener), Dr Yvonne Reed and Mr David Robinson
Each award consists of a cash prize and a prestigious certificate. The dates of the award ceremonies will be announced at a later stage.
Secrecy is for Skelms - Margie Orford
From the Mail & Guardian 25/11/2011
During this week's Black Tuesday protest outside Parliament, activist Zackie Achmat lowered the South African flag to half-mast. A policeman with a roll of crime-scene tape in his hand stepped forward as Achmat was about to lower the second flag. To the crowd's chant of "Secrecy's for skelms! We have the right to know!", the policeman stopped Achmat and proceeded to wrap the black and yellow tape -- nature's danger colours -- around the locked gates.
An emblematic act: inside the shuttered houses of Parliament, the Protection of State Information Bill (or secrecy Bill) was being passed by a well-whipped majority.
Earlier this year, South African PEN hosted a reading to honour Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Chinese writer and chair of Independent Chinese PEN. We gathered about a dozen writers who read from their work. All of them had been incarcerated by the apartheid government for what they said and wrote, for the information they revealed about the injustices perpetrated by the state on its people. It was a moving event because it was a chilling reminder of just how recently South Africa was imprisoning its writers and others who spoke truth to power.
That chill was prescient. The secrecy Bill, which civil-society organisations, trade unions, the press and a handful of parliamentarians have widely rejected, is a return to the brutal forms of censorship, state control and bullying associated with the apartheid government. The draconian secrecy laws now being foisted on South Africa are a jackboot directed at the face of a human-rights culture and the democracy so carefully built and nurtured in South Africa over the past 17 years.
Nadine Gordimer, on the occasion of her recent 88th-birthday celebrations, spoke of her shock when she saw the "unbelievable sight" of the blacked-out front page of last week's Mail & Guardian. It was, she said, only the "present example of what will happen with the passing of the Protection of Information Bill. We cannot accept censorship to blind our eyes. Tinkering with this Bill must be rejected. We must reject this Bill outright.'"
The Nobel laureate is an honorary vice-president of International PEN, to which South African PEN is one of the 144 affiliated centres worldwide. PEN brings together writers, journalists and poets in the common belief that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
This newly passed bill (it does have some more hoops to jump: we must make sure it stumbles) is the polar opposite of such democratic principles as freedom and openness. Governments and long-dominant political elites like to keep their skeletons closeted and now, with the passing of the secrecy Bill, their spooks have free rein. A culture of secrecy breeds duplicity, paranoia and ultimately violence. The lengthy prison sentences that this travesty of a law contains are both cruel and unusual.
In a 1994 speech, Nelson Mandela said: "It is only such a free press that can temper the appetite of any government to amass power at the expense of the citizen. It is only such a free press that can be the vigilant watchdog of the public interest against the temptation on the part of those who wield it to abuse that power. It is only such a free press that can have the capacity to relentlessly expose excesses and corruption on the part of government, state officials and other institutions that hold power in society."
The ruling, increasingly remote political elite has much to hide. This much is evident in the slew of corruption and abuse-of-power cases that have come before the public protector or the courts and have been revealed in the media. This is the impetus behind the secrecy Bill. Why else would legislation without any kind of public-interest defence, and which has provoked widespread antipathy across the spectrum of South African society, be forced through?
To force though a law that flies in the face of our hard-won Constitution, of the social and economic and political rights so many fought so hard for, is an abuse of the social contract that binds elected officials to the citizens they represent. In a democracy with a vigorous civil society and a free press, it is only with legislated secrecy that the extensive breeches of the contract between elected representatives and citizens can be hidden.
Margie Orford is the executive president of South African PEN and author of crime novels