Three esteemed authors will be honoured for their contributions to the fight against apartheid through literature at the Aziz Hassim Literary Awards on Friday.
The authors, shortlisted by the late Hassim, all reflected on non-racial enclaves during that era: Richard Rive focused on District Six, Ronnie Govender on Cato Manor, and Don Mattera wrote about Sophiatown.
Hassim himself wrote passionately about Grey Street’s Casbah area.
The awards ceremony will be hosted by the Centre for Fine Art, Animation and Design during its annual graduation dinner and fashion extravaganza at the DLI Hall in Greyville.
Nanda Soobben, the founder of the centre, said a watercolour portrait of Hassim, which would become the emblem of the new awards, would be on display during the inaugural ceremony.
Soobben said Hassim had conceived of the awards last year but had to postpone them because of Ramadan.
He explained that for the first five years the organisers had planned to honour writers who had not been afforded the recognition they deserved.
Soobben said women writers, including Zuleikha Mayat, Fatima Meer, Betty Govinden, Bessie Field and Ansuyah Singh, would all be in line for an award in the future.
“Hassim gave me the names of the writers two days before he went to hospital. We are simply carrying out his wish. However, local authors must not be discouraged because in the years to come they will also be in line for the award,” Soobben said.
Soobben said he intended to organise an exhibition showcasing his portraits of sports, arts and culture legends, including Steve Fataar and the late Papwa Sewgolum.
The event would also recognise unsung heroes through the Too Little Too Late award, which would be given to people who contributed unselfishly to the community without the recognition they deserved.
Hassim died in June after battling pneumonia in hospital for 10 days.