Judges announced for the 2019 Gama♥Phile Writers' Competition

Gcina Mhlophe, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Novuyo Tshuma will pick the winner of this year's Gama♥Phile Writers' Competition, to be published by Pan Macmillan

18 June 2019 - 16:20 By pan macmillan
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The winning entry of the 2019 Gama♥Phile Writers' Competition will be published by Pan Macmillan.
The winning entry of the 2019 Gama♥Phile Writers' Competition will be published by Pan Macmillan.
Image: Gama♥Phile

Gama♥Phile/ˈGʌmʌ (ʊ)fʌɪl/noun

1. A lover of words.

Synonyms: book lover, writer, verse-maker, bookworm

Gama♥Phile is proud to have three illustrious judges on its panel for the Gama♥Phile Writers’ Competition 2019. These judges are in the process of reviewing the full manuscripts of three of the novels/short story collections, which were selected from the Top 10 Submissions, plus one Editor’s Choice entry.

The winners will be announced at a launch event in Johannesburg in July.  

The three judges are Gcina Mhlophe, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. They are all respected, successful writers who have contributed to the literary scene worldwide. These authors have enriched our lives with their compelling stories that provide wonderful examples of how storytelling can expand one's worldview.

All aspiring writers are encouraged to study the works of these authors and to learn the craft of storytelling from them.  

To whet your appetite, the organisers of the competition would like to introduce you to the superb work of these artists and share a few aspects they found particularly interesting, in the hope that you will be inspired to discover, celebrate and share their work.  


Storyteller, orator, poet and motivational speaker Nokugcina Elise Mhlophe is also known as Gcinamasiko, “the keeper of heritage”. This name resonates with her strong interest in the African oral tradition and her commitment to preserve its history by educating South Africans to understand its role in a modern society.

Gcina celebrates oral storytelling in her performances, as well as through the rhythms of her written stories. She has written and collaborated on a huge body of work focused on children’s stories and readers for early school grades.  

The organisers of Gama♥Phile subscribe wholeheartedly to her saying, “Every living being has a story to tell.” That's one of the reasons they created the platform: to invite novice or unpublished writers of all walks of life to come and share their stories.

Gcina tells her own stories in order to wake up voices in other people - a function of storytelling that is not often acknowledged. She is building an Oral History Museum, the first public “home of storytelling” in South Africa. The idea is that anybody can tell, record and share their story there - a true locus of celebrating storytelling.

Learn more about this wonderful author and custodian of culture through her website.    


Tsitsi Dangarembga is a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker. She is well-known for her first novel, Nervous Conditions, which she wrote at a fairly young age and has since become a modern African classic. It was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1989. In 2018 it was ranked number 66 on the BBC’s list of the top 100 stories that shaped the world. The first in a trilogy, it was followed by The Book of Not and This Mournable Body

This Mournable Body, her latest work, is a wonderful example of the conscious choice to write an entire novel in the second person.  

Tsitsi understands and is active in both filmmaking and storytelling. She encourages us to tell our stories as individuals, free from any expectations and norms that a writer might feel obliged to adhere to. “I am passionate about bringing African stories to the screen,” she explains.

She started the African Women Filmmakers’ Hub, which brings female African filmmakers together to make movies that the world wants to see.  


Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a Zimbabwean writer. She believes that some of us become afraid to think. “Fiction - telling alternative stories - is a way to bring recognition to other stories, to other narratives that have been locked out of a space, ignored, erased,” she says.

Novuyo is a role model and an example of how we can free ourselves using writing and storytelling. One of the many helpful pieces of advice she gives is that “everyone should write whatever it is that tickles them”, as there is “no space for pretension or writing things about which one cares little”.

Novuyo’s short story collection, Shadows, was awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize. Her latest work is the novel House of Stone.

Writers interested in the genre of historical novels or the act of history-making should engage with this novel. Creating history - in the sense of telling the stories of individuals, albeit fictionalised - is a unique way of contributing to historical narratives. The investigative research done in preparation for an historical novel often reveals what official history had omitted or misrepresented.

Further information on Novuyo and her writing can be found here and here.

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