The winner of the 9th Sol Plaatje Poetry Award was announced in Cape Town last night. Zukiswa Adonis won the award for her poem 'Ubumama'. Zukiswa Muriel Adonis loves art, the theatre, travelling and window shopping. She spends most of her free time going to flea markets, watching cultural dance group performances, going to museums and galleries, going to bookstores, libraries and book lounges, to read books and writing poems in vernacular.
The runner up was Wesley Roodt and Beatrice Willoughby came in third.
The historic venue, 6 Spin Street, around the corner from Parliament, was filled with South Africa's ambassadorial heavyweights. In town for State of the Nation Address on the 12th of February the full house of writers, poets and diplomats enjoyed an evening of poetry, wine and performance, enlivened by the strong message from Poet Laureate Mongane Wally Serote.
In his keynote address, Dr Serote paid tribute to the European Union's passion for multilingualism by supporting this prize. He stressed the importance of translating local literature into all South African languages, and wondered why there was so little support in doing this from the Department of Arts and Culture. Poets writing in every South African language depend on the European Union's support, Serote said.
Dr Riina Kionka, the EU Ambassador, in her address, spoke of how important it is to see an award that celebrates all South African languages, and how proud the EU is of their support of the award. She spoke of how important her native Estonian language is to the national culture of Estonia.
Maggie Davey, of Jacana Media, recalled the great support of one of the instigators of the prize, Keorapetse 'Bra Willie' Kgositsile, how poets responded to the social drama of the new and free state, and how the ongoing engagement of poets in this arena was of importance. Bra Willie was close to Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, poets at the centre of the US civil rights movement, and his passion for poetic responses to a changing society was to some degree informed by this.