With more than 200 entries submitted for the Noem My Skollie Writing Competition it was hard to select the winners. FunDza judges have been poring over the entries since the competition closed to narrow the field down – first to the top 10 and then to the top three. The Noem My Skollie film producers then selected the winner and two runners-up. The three lucky people are:
Nosipho walks away with R2000 in cash, a goodie bag from FunDza and tickets (with flights and accommodation included) to the premiere of the Noem My Skollie movie. Tshepang and Morena each receive R1000 in cash and FunDza goodie bags.
On selecting Nosipho as the winner, the judges noted: “This story by Nosipho is so wonderfully told with natural progression from the Maluti mountains to the circumcision school and to her rape and finally her redemption; an incredible journey relating the horrors of the social impact of male circumcision school on a woman and told by a woman – it is so resonant of everything that our film is about.”
When she heard that her entry came out tops, Nosipho exclaimed: “I am so thrilled to have been chosen as the winner of this competition because finally, there are spaces for young women like myself to find their voices as writers. Finally, there are platforms for us to create and share the stories within us. Stories that showcase the richness of our languages and cultures. Stories that validate the lives and experiences of all the people who often get pushed into the margins. Stories by us, for us and that celebrate us.”
She added: “I wanted to include themes of rape, substance abuse, sexuality, sexual health, autonomy and ableism into my story because these are issues that are close to my heart and that have affected the lives of people close to me. They are issues that colour and shape our lived experiences and that I love to be engaged in and create dialogue about because in order to create a society that teaches consent, in order to create a society that engages in safe sexual practises, in order to create a society that doesn’t discriminate against people who identify as queer and people who are different to us, we need to speak about these things. I have always been passionate about reading and writing so winning this competition is a really huge validation for me because I am very self-conscious about the things I write. In this life, there is no room for you to be black, a woman and mediocre and having that ingrained in me, I am always second guessing my work and trying to make it better and as a consequence, I never end up much of sharing of what I write it with other people because I never think it’s good enough or ‘ready’ to be shared yet. So this is a really means a lot to me because it means that maybe my stories are worth writing; sharing and that it’s something I need to start doing more of. This experience really challenged me to step out of the noise of my life and sharpen my writing skills by participating because life often gets in the way and it’s hard to find time to set aside to read and write. So my story was really just a love letter to all the people currently doing amazing thing in the South African literary community because it really is such a hard thing to do and also to all the people I have encountered in my life who entrusted me with the stories of their lives that helped me build this one and being chosen as a winner makes all of those stories mean so much more than I ever could have imagined and for me -that is best reward I could have ever received from this.”
Meanwhile, runner-up Tshepang Molisana, was excited to have been selected in the top three. Here’s her response: “I have wanted to be a writer from the moment that I was taught how to spell. Being a runner up in a competition facilitated by FunDza has reignited my courage and conviction. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity because it stretched my imagination and how far my fingers could go. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ encouraged me to tell an uncomfortable, semi-fictitious story, and to find my voice. I could not possibly be more thankful to Noem My Skollie and FunDza.”
And, Morena Maoka was delighted too. He noted: “Having entered so many creative writing competitions and this being my first reward out of all of them, it really does mean a lot to have been selected as the runner- up. It means that I was a step away from taking the grand prize. It is a confidence booster for myself as an individual. It shows that I too have potential. Writing is a hobby which I enjoy a lot and after this I sure am going to write more often.”
The other essays that made it into the top ten and which were judged ‘highly commended’ by FunDza are:
A mountain of odds, by Mankgane Michael Masenya
Condemned by the cover, by Dany Matangwa
Spectator at Varsity, by Refiloe Malefane
Tattoo Guy, by Nivashnie Poonsamy
The girl in the park, by Adilet Hamid
The world in unfair, by Bernalee Ruiters
Unseen worlds, by Cassandra Taylor
Sincere thanks go to the producers of the Noem My Skollie feature film for partnering with us on the worthwhile competition that inspired great writing, and thanks to all the FunDza writers who entered too. Over the next couple of weeks FunDza will be uploading more of the essay entries to its mobi network to share with its readership base.