Debut author wins publishing deal and R35 000

Aspiring writer finally had his dreams come true when he won big at the Dinaane Debut Fiction Awards. His first novel Dub Steps has been published and is available at Exclusive Books. 

WINNING NOVEL: Dub Steps in its published form.

WINNING NOVEL: Dub Steps in its published form.                                                                                                          Photo: Katleho Sekhotho

ANDREW MILLER was named the winner of the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award for his debut novel Dub Steps along with a cash prize of R35 000 on Tuesday evening.

“I’ve never won anything,” said Miller, trembling in disbelief.

Dub Steps has been published by Jacana Media and is also available at Exclusive Books. The award ceremony was held at the Wits Writing Centre.

He told Wits Vuvuzela the reason he writes, “For many years I wrote in self-defence – as a way of processing and understanding my place in the world. I’ve got older and realised what an honour it is for someone to read anything I’ve written. I’ve started to care much more about the structure of stories and the idea of entertaining a reader.”

Miller was 15 years old when he began to fiddle with poetry, that ‘fiddling’ turned into ‘longer form stuff’ when he was 21.

Wits Vuvuzela also spoke to Neilwe Mashigo from Jacana Media, the publishers behind Miller’s novel.

The real challenge is doing a lot of hard work alone in a room all by yourself.

Mashigo addressed the concern of aspiring writers trying to get their work published, “Unfortunately not everyone can be published, and publishers are different in what they want published. “

“As an aspiring writer, you need to research the various publishing companies and the types of books they publish. Then you need to see where your manuscript can likely fit in,” he said.

Miller spoke about the challenges ambitious writers’ face including making sure there was enough time to write, “I think the big trap is focusing on self-promotion and selling your work.”

“The real challenge is doing a lot of hard work alone in a room all by yourself.”

On the other hand, Miller speaks about not isolating yourself to do your writing. He suggests that as a writer you might have to dabble in public speaking or journalism to be able to make a living while writing, “The days of sitting along in your room cranking out novels are long gone.”

Kopano Motlwa author of Coconut is a former recipient of the Dinaane Award and her novel has been translated into Swedish and Dutch with a French translation currently underway. Matlwa’s Coconut is a set work at schools across South Africa.

The Dinaane Awards was open to unpublished English language manuscripts by debut writers, it was judged by a panel of three judges: Maureen Isaacson, Fred Khumalo and head judge Pamela Nichols.

Wits Financial Aid Office comes out tops awards ceremony

Wits University`s Financial Aid and Scholarship Office  has been voted as the “Best Performing Office”  at a recent awards ceremony honouring financial aid practitioners.

The biggest winner was the office head, Busi Sithole, who was appointed as the new president of the Financial Aid Practitioners of South Africa (FAPSA).

FAPSA is an umbrella body of all the financial aid practitioners representing both Higher and Further Education and Training Colleges in South Africa, including National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

On top of Sithole`s major recognition, Wits was awarded as the “Best Performing Financial Aid Office,” as voted for by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The scheme also recognised Nombini Nteyi, supervisor of the Wits NSFAS team, with a certificate for her “Outstanding Contribution”, while FAPSA gave the Wits Office a certificate for its “Outstanding Service and Contribution in Improving the Lives of Students”.

Sithole said she was humbled and honoured by the task appointed to her, telling the Wits communications office, “the FAPSA conference has bestowed their trust on me as a new president, but I do realise this is a big challenge and I am committed to rise to the challenge and continue to improve the quality of the student`s experience across institutions of higher learning.”

SRC fundraising officer Wandile Sishange congratulated the office and Sithole, but said there was more work to be done towards helping needy students, “As the SRC we would to congratulate the office of NSFAS and also sis` Busi for the achievements they`ve received to recognise them as the best, even though we have our own view about who is supposed to actually recognise the office as the best. From our side we still have a bit of hiccups with the office so we would like to hear feedback from our students who interact with NSFAS what they think about the office.”

Wandile added that NSFAS has been very helpful towards the SRC but the main concern is towards making sure that the system works for students.