National Library of South Africa honours NWU literary giant

Mr Mandlakayise Matyumuza, director of the Centre of the Book at the National Library of South Africa presents Ms Eileen Pooe with her award

Ms Eileen Pooe, the North-West University’s (NWU’s) very own literary giant and Setswana senior lecturer in the School of Languages on the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Mahikeng, recently received an award in recognition of her continued writing and publishing in Setswana from the National Library of South Africa.

As part of recognising and celebrating work done by women in the different sectors of society, the Centre for the Book of the National Library of South Africa, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, took to honouring women who have written and published in indigenous languages. This year they are honouring contributors in Sesotho, Sepedi and Setswana.

Eileen’s illustrious career as an indigenous language author include familiar titles such as Le re Tlhabetse, a learner book and teachers’ guide series for Grades 7 to 9; Platinum Segarona, a learner book and teachers’ guide series for Grade 10 to 12; and Re a Ipela, a learner book and teachers’ guide series for Grade 11 to 12.

“The Setswana language is one of the most beautiful languages we have,” says Eileen. “I believe in first learning your own language and mastering it, so that one can properly speak and represent it to others. Writing books in this language preserves not only the language, but also the culture that comes with the language. Being recognised and receiving an award for my work in teaching and preserving my language is a humbling experience, and it encourages me to continue in my quest to teach, write and preserve this beautiful language.”

In addition to her published set of works, Eileen also translated the Setswana section of the South African Multilingual Dictionary for Schools and developed addendums for prescribed novels for Grade 12 which includes the following titles: Masego by Gomolemo Mokae (2009), Omphile Umphi Modise by Monyaise, DPS (2009), and Ntlhomole Mmutlwa by OR Lebelo (2016).