Meet our Executive Board
Nadia Davids – President
Nadia Davids is a writer, theatre-maker and scholar. Her plays, At Her Feet and Cissie, have garnered various theatre awards and nominations (five Fleur de Cap Theatre Awards, one Noma, one Naledi) and been staged internationally; at the Market Theatre, Baxter Theatre, Southbank Centre, Fracsati Theatre, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Afrovibes and the London Book Fair. Nadia was a part of the New York Women’s Project Theater’s Playwright’s Lab for 2008-2010 and was a writer in residence at the Ledig House in 2012 and in 2015 and at Hedgebrook in 2016.
Her debut novel An Imperfect Blessing was long-listed for the Sunday Times Fiction Award and shortlisted for the UJ Prize and the Pan-African Etisalat Prize for Literature. She holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town and, as an A.W. Mellon Fellow, has been a visiting scholar/artist at the University of California Berkley and at New York University. She is a recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Prize and lectured at Queen Mary University of London between 2009 and 2016. Nadia lives in Cape Town.
Her play, What Remains, about slavery, the haunted city and the now, was recently at the National Art Festival in Grahamstown.
Yewande Omotoso – Executive Vice-President & Treasurer
Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados, she grew up in Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Cape Town, South Africa and currently lives in Johannesburg. An architect, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town. Her debut novel Bom Boy (Modjaji Books, 2012) was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the MNet Film Award and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. It won the South African Literary Award First Time Author Prize. Her short stories include “How About The Children” in Kalahari Review, “Things Are Hard” in the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology, “Fish” published in The Moth Literary Journal and “The Leftovers” in One World Two.
Yewande was a 2013 Norman Mailer Fellow and a 2014 Etisalat Fellow. In 2015 she was a Miles Morland Scholar. Yewande’s second novel The Woman Next Door (Chatto and Windus, 2016) was longlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. Her third novel An Unusual Grief (Cassava Republic) is forthcoming. Yewande works as a Story Advisor for Greenpeace International.
Meet our Board Members
Sisonke Msimang is a writer and columnist with the Daily Maverick in South Africa. She has held fellowships at Yale University, the Aspen Institute and the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg.
She was born in Swaziland to parents who were political exiles, and raised in Zambia, Kenya and Canada, before going to the US as an undergraduate. Her family returned to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of liberation movements in the early 1990s. She currently lives on planes, navigating the distance between South Africa and Australia.
Pierre de Vos
Professor Pierre De Vos is the Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance and teaches in the area of Constitution al Law. He has a B Comm (Law), LLB and LLM (cum laude) from the University of Stellenbosch, an LLM from Columbia University in NewYork, and an LLD from the University of Western Cape. In addition to his position at PEN SA, Prof de Vos serves on the Advisory Council of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC). He writes a Blog on social and political issues from a constitutional law perspective, which is widely read and quoted.
Nicky Falkof is a writer and academic originally from Joburg, where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Wits Media Studies department. She is the author of Ball and Chain: The Trouble with Modern Marriage (2007) and The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa (2015), and co-editor of Anxious Joburg: The Inner Lives of a Global South City (2020) and Intimacy and Injury: In the Wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa (forthcoming 2022). She has an interdisciplinary PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, part of Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Masters in Critical Theory from Sussex University.
She is a Fellow of the ACLS African Humanities Programme, and has been a resident at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre and a visiting scholar at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, Sussex University in the UK and UNAM in Mexico. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Vice magazine, The Conversation, New Frame, The Mail & Guardian and the Daily Maverick, among other outlets.
Kate Highman is a lecturer in English Literary Studies at the University of Cape Town, and has done extensive research on the long (and at times fraught) history of PEN in South Africa, as part of a collaborative research project on Writers’ Organisations and Free Expression (www.writersandfreeexpression.com) that focuses particularly on PEN and its history in South Africa and India.
Her other research interests include the history and politics of ‘English’ as a university discipline in South Africa, and debates about plagiarism and cultural ownership.
She has a PhD from the University of York and has worked or held fellowships at the University of the Western Cape, the University of Oxford and the University of Minnesota.
Mandla Langa comes from Durban. He went into exile in 1976 and has lived in Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, Hungary, Zambia and the United Kingdom. In 1980 Mandla won Drum Magazine’s Africa-wide story contest and in 1991 was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain bursary for creative writing.
Mandla was the Cultural Representative of the African National Congress (ANC) in the UK and Western Europe. He has been a columnist for various newspapers and was the Convenor of the Task Group on Government Communications (COMTASK) in 1997, which restructured apartheid’s communication systems. From 1999 to 2005 he chaired the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA). In 2007, he received the National Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his literary and journalistic contribution to democracy. In 1999 to 2000, he wrote the book for the musical, Milestones, which featured music by Hugh Masekela and Sibongile Khumalo.
His published works include Tenderness of Blood (1987), A Rainbow on a Paper Sky (1989), The Naked Song and Other Stories (1997), The Memory of Stones (2000), The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008), which won the 2009 Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in the African Region and The Texture of Shadows (2014). He co-authored Dare Not Linger with Nelson Mandela’s archives (2017) and was a fellow with STIAS (Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies). A recipient of honorary doctorates from the Universities of Fort Hare and Wits respectively, Mandla has a MA in Creative Writing from Wits. He sits on various boards such as Multichoice’s Phuthuma Nathi and Primedia and is a trustee of Media Monitoring Africa.
Bongani Kona is a writer, editor, and co-curator of the Archive of Forgetfulness project. He studied creative writing at the University of Cape Town and is the co-editor of Migrations (2017), a short story collection. His work has been broadcast on BBC and appeared in a variety publications and anthologies including Chimurenga, Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, and Black Tax: Burden or Ubuntu. Kona was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2016 and awarded the 2019 Ruth First Fellowship.
(Photo credits: Nadia Davids – John Gutierrez, Sisonke Msimang – Victor Dlamini via The JRB; Pierre de Vos – UCT.)