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Author Focus

Sindiwe Magona
Biographical info

Sindiwe Magona was born in Umtata on 27 August 1943 and grew up in Gugulethu on the Cape Flats. She finished high school through a correspondence course, followed by a BA Degree from the University of South Africa. In 1981 she embarked on a Masters' Degree in Social Work at Columbia University in New York. On completion, she successfully applied for a position at the United Nations. Until 1994 she presented UN radio programmes about the UN's role in ending Apartheid. She then worked in the UN's Public Information Department until 2003, when she retired and returned to Cape Town.

Sindiwe Magona is a writer, poet, dramatist, storyteller, actress and motivational speaker. She has published two autobiographical works: To My Children's Children (1990) and Forced to Grow (1992). Her first novel, The Best Meal Ever!, was published in 1998. She has also written a number of children's books, including The Best Meal Ever! and Life is a Hard But Beautiful Thing. In 2008 her novel Beauty's Gift was published. The AIDS-activist Zackie Achmat described it as "one of the most important books about HIV/AIDS in our country".

Did you know?

-She is known as Nomabali, because she loves telling and reading stories to people.
-She was awarded an honorary Doctorate by Hartwick College in the USA in 1993. In 1997 she was a fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts in the category non-fiction.
-Beauty's Gift was shortlisted in the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Africa).

Author bookshelf

Beauty's Gift, Kwela Boeke (2008)
Die heel, héél lekkerste kos!, Tafelberg (2006)
Esona-sona sidlo!, Tafelberg (2006)
The Best Meal Ever!, Tafelberg (2006)

List of titles

1990 To My Children's Children, David Philip
1992 Forced to Grow, David Philip

Prose: short stories
1991 Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night, David Philip
1996 Push-Push and other stories, David Philip

Prose: novels
1998 The Best Meal Ever!, David Philip
2008 Beauty's Gift, Kwela Boeke

Children's books
2006 Die heel, héél lekkerste kos!, Tafelberg
2006 Esona-sona sidlo!, Tafelberg
2006 The Best Meal Ever!, Tafelberg


To My Children's Children (1990)

Xhosa (Kubantwana Babantwana, 1995), German (An die Kinder meiner Kinder, 1992)
Push-Push and other stories (1996)

Italian (Push-Push ed altre storie, 2006)
The Best Meal Ever! (1998)

Swedish (Mödrar emellan, 2002), Italian (Da madre a madre, 2005)


"Sindiwe Magona has written a book with a strong message - take control of your life and be assertive about it. It is a short novel, very readable, and despite having an obvious purpose, is still entertaining. Magona is a successful and award-winning author and has returned to South Africa after two decades at the United Nations in New York. She obviously feels people must speak out on the Aids issue because only if the stigma is removed and the disease can be talked about openly, can it be controlled. And she has the writing skill to make the message palatable. It is a brave book." - Margaret von Klemperer on Beauty's Gift, The Witness (2008)

"Sindiwe Magona's new book is first of all a novel, but will most probably remain in the history of South African literature as one of the most important manifestos of black feminism. […] Beauty's Gift is a courageous endeavour that breaks many taboos. It could only have been written by a courageous writer like Sindiwe Magona. A novel that all women should read. A book to give as a gift, a slim book, that should easily and steadily circulate, like a leaflet." - Michela Borzaga, www.itch.co.za (2009)

"Magona raises important points here about the Aids pandemic that is decimating the country and filling up graveyards, creating countless orphans." - Arja Salafranca on Beauty's Gift, www.tonight.co.za (2009)

Books By This Author