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Dr Marguerite Poland

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Dr Marguerite Poland Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the field of indigenous languages, literature and anthropology. Her literary works are taught widely in South African schools.
Profile of Dr Marguerite Poland

Dr Marguerite Poland was born on 3 April 1950 in Johannesburg. She grew up in the Eastern Cape. She completed secondary education at St Dominic’s Prior y School in Port Elizabeth and obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at Rhodes University, majoring in Social Anthropology and isiXhosa.

In 1971 she obtained an honours degree in African languages at Stellenbosch University. In 1977 she obtained her doctorate in isiZulu folklore from the then University of Natal (now called the University of KwaZulu-Natal). Her field of specialisation was cattle and thus her doctoral proposal was ‘A Descriptive Study of the Sanga-Nguni Cattle of the Zulu People’.

Dr Poland worked as a social worker in Port Elizabeth and Durban. She went on to become an ethnologist at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town. She taught English for a year at St. Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, where she was appointed to write a story of the school to mark the 150th anniversary of its founding.

The resultant publication, entitled The Boy in You: A Biography of St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown 1855-2005, was launched in South Africa and London in 2008. She has written five adult novels, one of which was shortlisted for the CNA Award and the M-Net Award respectively.

Her novel, Shades, was prescribed work for matric students all over South Africa. Her other work like The Recessional for Grace and The Abundant Herds: A Celebration of the Nguni Cattle of the Zulu  People, have been adapted for a documentary film. Her writings have been translated into several languages, including French and Japanese. Dr Poland was chosen to appear in Twentieth Century Children’s Writers, which was published by Cambridge University Press.

She is also a featured writer in the KwaZulu-Natal Literary Tourism project. Her work has also received awards nationally. She won two National Lifetime Achievement awards for English Literature from the Department of Arts and Culture in 2005.

Dr Poland also received the Percy FitzPatrick Award for her work, The Mantis of the Moon, and also received the Sankei Honourable Award for its translation into Japanese.