- Category: TOW 2011
Fiction-writer, intellectual and literary critic, Professor NJABULO NDEBELE was born in Johannesburg. By the time he graduated in English and Philosophy from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS) in 1973, the metaphorical writing bug had already bitten, and his poetry had been published in literary magazines such as ‘Classic’ and ‘Contrast’.
Ndebele also served as President of the Congress of South African Writers for many years since 1987.
With a number of literary awards to his name, including being recipient of the SANLAM prize for outstanding fiction for his collection of short stories,‘Fools’ and other Stories (1983), Ndebele ascribes a significant part of his literary beginnings to his involvement in the Black Consciousness student movement, which for him, provided “strong psychological moorings”. Fools and other Storiesalso won the Noma Award for Publishing In Africa - a prize bestowed upon outstanding African writers and scholars who publish in Africa.
Ndebele also writes academically, whereby he offers theoretical reflections around literary works of imagination. Concerned with the pertinent notion of ‘how much is the social in the art and the art in the social’, ‘Fools’ and other Stories, when viewed alongside his critical essays titled Rediscovery of the Ordinary: Essays of South African Literature and Culture (1991, 2006), point to the interaction of literary practice and the theorizing of it. The latter work became a seminal contribution to South African literary studies.
An innovative mix of fiction, fact, biography and speculation, Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandelaoffers a distinctly feminist outlook in its interrogation of South African society through the perspectives of five South African women.
Ndebele is currently a Senior Research Fellow in the Archive and Public Culture Initiative in the Social Anthropology Department at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is the recently retired Vice Chancellor of UCT and currently writing a work of fiction, as well as undertaking research.
Fine Lines from the Box: further thoughts about our Country, Umuzi, 2007
The Cry of Winnie Mandela, David Philips, 2003
Death of a Son, Viva Books, 1996
Sarah, Rings, and I, Viva Books, 1993
Rediscovery of the Ordinary: Essays on South African Literature and Culture, COSAW, 1991
Bonolo and the Peach Tree, Raven Press, 1991
Fools and Other Stories, Raven Press, 1983.