Sindiwe Magona

Dr Sindiwe Magona is a graduate of Columbia University and the official biographer of Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane. She is an author, poet, playwright, storyteller, actor, and inspirational speaker. Magona retired from the United Nations, where she worked in the Anti-Apartheid Radio Programmes till June 1994 and UN Film Archives till her retirement from the organization, end of 2003. After twenty-five years in New York, she relocated to her home country, South Africa and is currently Writer-in-Residence at the University of the Western Cape.

  1. Published Works include:Two autobiographical books: To My Children’sChildrenand Forced to Grow; two collections of short stories: Living, Loving, and Lying Awake at Night (Voted one of Africa’s 100 Best Books); Push-Push and Other Stories;four novels: Mother to Mother, which was optioned by Universal Studios for a film on the life of Amy Biehl – prescribed for grade 10 from 2016-2020; Beauty’s Gift,shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and received The White Ribbon Award  from Women Demand Dignity; Life is a Hard but Beautiful Thing(YA) and Chasing the Tails of My Father’s Cattle! –2015. Both To My Children’s Children and Mother to Motherhave been shortlisted for numerous awards. Please, take photographs!a book of poetry, Modjaji Books (2009), and Awam Ngqo, a book of short stories published by NASOU (2009) and prescribed for Grade 8, 2011; Twelve Books of Folktales – written in both English and Xhosa; translated into isiZulu; Setswana, Afrikaans; Sesotho; Sepedi; and published September 2014 – David Philip Publishers; “Manyano School” – English and Xhosa – a community book around the issue of school, community and education – August 2014 – David Philip; “Skin We Live In” in collaboration with scientist Nina Jablonksy and illustrator, Lynn Feldman – a book about skin colour and race – forthcoming.

Children’s Books Published:  Magona has written over a 100 children’s books, 40 available in all eleven official languages. The Best Meal Everand Life is a hard but beautiful thing; available in English, Afrikaans, and created the first true series for children in isiXhosa: SIGALELEKILE: 48 books (Via Afrika); contributed more than twenty the books in another series: SIYAKHULA (OUP).  Magona, with more than 100 books, is considered one of the leading Children’s Writers in the African continent. She has also written several Radio plays in both English and isiXhosa, which have been broadcast.

Compilation: You Pay For The View – Maskew Miller Longman (2009)

Gugulethu Writers’ Group:Umthi ngamnye unentlaka yawo – short stories – Xhosa Realities (2007); UNobanzi – novel – Oxford University Press (2010); and five children’s books in isiXhosa, including winning stories in national contests, UNyana weSizwe 2009 and 2010; and a series of twenty-four books (IGUGU), from her workshop with students at the University of the Western Cape to be published November 2015, by David Philip Publishers. Two books of poetry, UWC students, will be published later this year (2016) in isiXhosa.

VUKANI!An Aids play has been performed in Colleges, Churches, and theatres in the United States, at the Masque Theatre and Artscape, in Cape Town; has been published in isiXhosa.

Mother to Mother– the stage play – was performed at the Baxter Theatre, September 2009 and gone on to theatres in the UK, including the West End and Edinburgh. 2016 – Rwanda Festival.

Beauty’s Gift– has been adapted to a musical – Beauty’s Gift – The Musical.

Several of Dr. Magona’s short stories, essays, and poems have been anthologized. She is founder of the Gugulethu Writers’ Group, which she runs on a voluntary basis, to encourage women who might not otherwise write their stories.

Besides Writers’ Conferences, Magona has given readings and addresses at numerous  international fora, including the United Nations, the Kennedy Centre, The Riverside Church, the Ford Foundation, Temple and Columbia Universities, to name a few. She has received numerous other awards in recognition of her work in women’s issues, the plight of children, the fight against apartheid and racism, and protection of the environment.

Work in Progress

  1. Walter Sisulu – abridged version, English and Xhosa – February 2016
  2. Albertina Sisulu – Abridged version, English and Xhosa – August 2016
  3. Walter Sisulu – Children’s Book – February 2016
  4. Albertina Sisulu – Children’s Book – February 2016
  5. This Street Killed The Woman! – commissioned – June 2016
  6. Skin’s Just the Inn! – Children’s Book on skin colour and race  – July 2016 (Commissioned)
  7. Nay’ Intombi! – biography of Actress Thembekile Mtshali-Jones of Stokvel fame. – Forthcoming: August 2016
  8. OoMaSisulu/The MaSisulus – A Play – commissioned by Artscape Theatre – celebrates the Women’s March of August 1956 and the Women of the Youth Uprisings of June 16 1976 [60thand 40thanniversaries in 2016 – premiers Grahamstown Arts Festival – 2016


1993 – Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters – Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York

1997 – New York Foundation for the Arts – Fellowship – Non-fiction category

1997 – Xhosa Heroes Award from the Xhosa Forum – Western Cape

1997 – UNdimande – Grand Prize Winner – Bhala Writers Short Story Contest and Xandisiy’ emsebenzini, ndihamba naye – First Prize in the same contest

2000 – Bronx Recognizes its Own (BRIO) Award – Fiction

2003 – Proclamation (NY State Senate Democratic Leader, David A. Patterson – on World Aids Day 2003 – in recognition of artistic work on the issue of HIV/AIDS

2005 – Greenaccord Award for literary work that addresses issues of the environment

2006 – Award in acknowledgement of contribution to S.A. literature – Dept of Education

2007 – The Grinzane Award for writing that addresses social concerns;

2007 –  The Molteno Gold Medal for promoting isiXhosa culture and language;

2007 – A Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to South African Literature.

2008 – White Ribbon Award – Beauty’s Gift – form Women Demand Dignity

2011 – Magona was awarded the Order of iKhamanga by the President of the Republic of South Africa.

2012 – Imbokodo Award

2014 – Flora Nwapa Literary Award

2016 – The English Academy Gold Medal for her distinguished service to English over a lifetime.


  • The University of the Western Cape has created the Sindiwe Magona Literary Award in honour of Magona’s work – inaugurated 28 October, 2014
  • Georgia State University (Atlanta, USA) invited Magona as Writer-in-Residence, Fall 2015
  • University of Michigan-Flint (USA) – March 2015 – invited Magona as the 9thwriter in its “The Distinguished Visitor’s Programme” – following the likes of Chinua Achebe and other illustrious writers from Africa and the Diaspora.
  • The University of the Western Cape’s CMDR/UWC Creates hosts the “Sindiwe Magona Literary Prize”, inaugurated in 2014. The prize aims at nurturing emerging writers studying at UWC and from the larger Community.
  • Red Cross Children’s Hospital – Ambassador – The Children’s Hospital Trust
  • The Department of Arts and Culture … Living Legend
  • Western Cape Dept. of Education and other stake holders – Ambassador – 2016 Creative Writing Project
  • Assitej – Ambassador
  • Nal’ iBali – Ambassador [also reads Nal’ iBali Children’s stories on SAfm]
  • 2018 – Honorary Doctorate – Rhodes University