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Marlene van Niekerk (1954 - )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Marlene van Niekerk (1954 - ) Awarded for:
Her outstanding intellectual contribution to the literary arts and culture field through poetry, literature and philosophical works.

Profile of Marlene van Niekerk

Ms Marlene van Niekerk was born in 1954, on a farm in Tygerhoek near Caledon. An outstanding intellectual, philosopher and pro¬digious literary giant, Ms van Niekerk matriculated from Hoërskool Bloemhof and proceeded to study Language and Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch, where she completed a Masters’ Degree in 1978. 

In 1979, she moved to Germany to join theatres in Stuttgart and Mainz as an apprentice for directing. From 1980 – 1985, she con¬tinued her studies of Philosophy in Holland and obtained a Doctoral Degree with a thesis on the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Paul Ricoeur: Taal en mythe: een structuralistische en een hermeneutische benadering. 

Ms van Niekerk has lectured Philosophy at the University of Zululand, and later at the University of South Africa, and thereafter became a lecturer in Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of the Witwatersrand. Ms van Niekerk is now Professor of Afrikaans and Dutch at the University of Stellenbosch. 

She has made a significant contribution as an award-winning poet, novelist and short-story writer and boasts an impeccable publi¬cation record. Her publications include the short-story collection, The Woman Who Forgot Her Spyglass, the novella, Memorandum, and the novels, Triomf and Agaat.

In particular the novel, Triomf, translated by Leon de Kock, reflects on the post-colonial South Africa, showing how apartheid failed to benefit even those it was also designed to serve, namely the white population. This work was a New York Times Notable Book in 2004, and won the CNA Literary Award, the M-Net Prize in South Africa and the prestigious Noma Award. 

Triomf was the first Afrikaans novel to win this prize. Also, its film adaptation, directed by Michael Raeburn, won the Best South African Film Award at the Durban International Festival in 2008. In 2007, Agaat received the Sunday Times Literary Prize and the Hertzog Prize and was translated as The Way of the Women by Michiel Heyns, who received the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation. Ms van Niekerk’s latest work is her novella, Memorandum. She continues to enrich our literary landscape.

We are proud to honour Ms Marlene van Niekerk with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for her outstanding contribution to the development of South Africa’s inclusive literary culture.

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