Alumni & Staff Achievements


Dr Wamuwi Mbao was a co-winner, in 2019, of a South African Literary Award (SALA) in the category ‘Literary Journalism’ for his extensive body of reviewing and interview work across platforms such as The Johannesburg Review of Books and New Contrast.

Dr Uhuru Phalafala was awarded a competitive 2018 NRF-FRF Sabbatical Grant to enable a year’s research leave in respect of her biography-in-progress of Keorapetse Kgositsile. In addition, she has been awarded a place in the University of Michigan’s African Presidential Scholars (UMAPS) program, which entails 4 – 6 months abroad in a research-intensive environment.

In December 2020, Dr Uhuru Phalafala was notified by Dr Blade Nzimande that she had been selected by the Department of Higher Education and Training as a participant in the 2021 cohort of the nationally competitive Future Professors Programme. This initiative aims to support the career development of notable young South African scholars who have already made their mark as academics, and whose CVs suggest they are likely to go on to make significant contributions in the tertiary environment.

Prof Extraordinaire Gabeba Baderoon’s book Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-apartheid (Wits University Press, 2014) was the joint recipient of the 2017 Humanities and Social Sciences Award in the non-fiction monograph category. Hosted by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the HSS Awards “breathe life into the ideas expressed in the Humanities Charter to increase the recognition afforded to book and creative outputs; reposition these scholarly contributions as having public-value; and increase their appreciation and the role they play in building sustainable social cohesion and the re-imagining of the humanities and social sciences”.

At the 2019 Media24 Books Literary Prizes – awards which recognise the best work published during the previous year by Media24 book publishers – Professor Baderoon won the Elisabeth Eybers Prize for Afrikaans and English poetry for The History of Intimacy, published by Kwela Books.  

The judges were impressed by the controlled lyricism and calm maturity of the poems in the collection: “The work depicts the transitions of Baderoon’s world, herself a figure of transit, and does this in a grammar that relies mainly on the strength of its images. It is a book of technical ease and linguistic subtlety of a high order.”

The collection would also win the 2019 University of Johannesburg Prize in the Open Category.


Professor Louise Green’s book, Fragments from the History of Loss: Nature and the Postcolony was published in 2020 by Penn State University Press.  The book has been recognised as a significant contribution to the politicising of the Anthropocene in contexts of postcolonial scholarshipIn the words of Jennifer Wentzel, “With bracing nuance and salutary attention to inequality and immiseration, this scintillating book sifts through slices of time and fragments of nature in order to assemble shards of wisdom for living – lightly, with less – in the Anthropocene.”

Professor Tina Steiner’s newest book, Convivial Worlds: Writing Relation from Africa, was published in 2021 with Routledge.

With a focus on the everyday, the book explores forms of conviviality in Eastern and Southern African literature, both in narrative fiction and in life writing. According to Routledge, there is an emphasis on

“…ordinary moments of recognition, of hospitality, of humour and kindness in everyday life to illuminate the significance of repertoires of repair in a world broken by relations of power. Putting current research on conviviality in conversation with the literary texts, the book demonstrates how conviviality emerges as an enabling ethical practice, as critique and survival strategy and as embodied lived experience.”

The volume is a rich addition to Professor Steiner’s body of work and also a contribution to Postcolonial Literature, African Studies and Indian Ocean Studies. The Department welcomes this new publication with great excitement and enthusiasm.

Professor Steiner also published in 2020. With a multi-institutional editorial team, Professor Steiner and SU Prof Extraordinaire Evan Mwangi of Northwestern, worked collaboratively on a Wits University Press edition of DDT Jabavu’s travelogue In India and East Africa / E-Indiya nase East Africa, published in isiXhosa and English. The book represents a long, even labyrinthine, journey for the editors, across institutions, languages, cultures, continents, mediating between the politics of the past and the claims of the present. In re-rendering Jabavu’s experiences and views, it offers a very important and unusual contribution to the field.

Dr Wamuwi Mbao edited the poetry collection Years of Fire and Ash: South African Poems of Decolonisation with Jonathan Ball, in 2021. In the collection, selected and collated by Dr Mbao, five decades of protest poetry are represented by a range of historic and contemporary South African poets. The selections speak to vital questions of decolonisation and the struggle radical social transformation, positioning many of these poems both in their own historic moments and in the continued discussion around decolonisation.

Professor Gabeba Baderoon co-edited Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa, with with Professor Desiree Lewis. The book, published in 2021, is described as the first collection dedicated to contemporary Black South African feminist perspectives.

Dr Uhuru Phalafala lead an initiative to re-publish a volume called Malibongwe: Poems from the Struggle by ANC Women, now out from uHlanga. The book, published in 2020, is the “first South African edition of a Struggle classic…banned by the apartheid regime – a book in and of exile,” featuring “poems written by women in ANC camps and offices throughout Africa and the world”. This re-issue of Malibongwe (authorised by the original editor Sono Molefe) “re-establishes a place for women artists in the history of South Africa’s liberation. These are the struggles within the Struggle”, as is argued in a new preface by Dr Phalafala, which outlines some of the book’s publishing history.

Dr Phalafala also contributed a sonic documentary called Home Is Where the Music Is, in 2021. The documentary is a creative reimagining of archives built over years of interviews. In the listening experience is a blend of music and interviews through which Dr Phalafala presents a sonic documentary that is a companion piece to a booklet that is published by Chimurenga, which was launched on 2nd September 2021