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Thursday, October 18, 2012


(Author Lauretta Ngcobo is presented with her award by Sibusiso Sithole, City Manager at Ethekwini Municipality)

With its prestigious Living Legends Awards, now in their fifth year, the eThekwini Municipality last month celebrated those who have made a major contribution to the city in their various fields.

“The fact that what began as an idea in the unassuming minds of a few people has grown in such leaps and bounds in a space of five years is an extraordinary stride for our beautiful City,” said Councillor James Nxumalo, the Mayor of eThekwini. “It is this power of an idea which is so aptly personified by the people whose works, contributions and sacrifices the eThekwini Living Legends Awards recognise and celebrate.”

This year’s impressive ceremony saw the 2012 recipients of the Living Legends Awards enter the splendidly-decorated ICC carrying a lantern on one side and holding the hand of a five-year old child on the other. The children were chosen specifically for their age to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the awards.

The procession moved towards the stage and, once each Living Legend awardee reached the stage, they symbolically handed their lantern to their accompanying child. In an extremely moving process, the child then walked up onto the stage, as if carrying forward the awardee’s energies and skills into the future.

Among the awardees was author Lauretta Ngcobo. A South African novelist, she was born and raised in the rural community of Ixopo and educated at Fort Hare University. She is well known as a feminist writer since the early 1950’s although her work was only published in the 80s and 90s. She was an inspirational speaker during the 1956 women’s anti-pass march that was held across the country, when it was chanted “When You Strike The Women, You Strike a Rock”.

In 1963, Ngcobo was forced to flee South Africa, escaping imminent arrest, and went into exile with her husband and children. She moved from Swaziland to Zambia, and finally settled in England where she worked as a teacher for 25 years. One of her many books, And They Didn’t Die, has been described as “the most enlightened and balanced book” about the history and personal anguish of the African woman. In 1994 she returned to South Africa after 31 years in exile.

Ngcobo was the winner of the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award from the South African Department of Arts and Culture in 2006 and the winner of the 2008 Order of Ikhamanga for The Presidency of South Africa for excellent achievement in the field of literature. Lauretta Ngcobo has shone a torch on the plight of women in Africa, giving voice and visibility to their struggles for many generations to come.

Other 2012 Living Legends in the arts were jazz musician Theo Bophela, visual artist Paul Sibisi and theatre personality and artSMart editor Caroline Smart, who is currently reading Ngcobo’s And They Didn’t Die for Tape Aids for the Blind.