On Wednesday, 31 March 2021, a book edited by SPU academics Sabata-mpho Mokae and Professor Brian Willan, Sol Plaatje’s Mhudi: History, Criticism, Celebration won the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Award during the 6th HSS Awards held at Maropeng – Cradle of the Humankind, northwest of Johannesburg. The awards are hosted by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) aimed at recognising outstanding writers, contributors and publishing houses that enhance and advance the fields of Human Social Sciences.
The book won in the Non-Fiction Best Edited Volume category, as a joint winner alongside Our Words, Our Worlds: Writing on Black South African Women Poets, edited by Khosi Xaba.
Sabata-mpho Mokae accepting the Humanities and Social Sciences Award at Maropeng.
In his acceptance speech Mokae acknowledged Jacana Media publishers and all contributors without whom this book would not have existed. These are Professors Lesego Malepe, Laurence Wright, Shole Shole, Zakes Mda, Antjie Krog, Bhekizizwe Peterson, Christopher Thurman. As well as, Dr Jenny du Preez, Dr Eileen Pooe and two SPU academics Professor Karen Haire and Sizakele Nkosi-Mokhele.
The book Sol Plaatje’s Mhudi: History, Criticism, Celebration was published in 2020 to mark the centenary of the writing of Sol Plaatje’s epic novel Mhudi. Plaatje wrote Mhudi in London in 1920 at the age of 44. It was the first English novel by a black South African.
The HSS Awards recognise literary works, among others, on the basis of their contribution to the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Professor Willan could not attend the award as he could not travel from England due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Willan did however, dedicate this award to Sol Plaatje.