“When the roots are deep, there is reason to fear the wind.” — African proverb — and  “We are coming for everything.” Together, these two quotes tick all the boxes in the question above, I think. 

If I had to elaborate, I think a strong sense of self, purpose  and hope can take anyone all the way. I know what I am made of and what I am capable of in the pursuit of my dream. I also try to always operate from a place of hopefulness. 

More often than not, I land in a good place.


Film & Media


Jonathan Ball Publishers

As commissioning editor at Jonathan Ball Publishers, Sibongile Machika’s jobconsists of seeking out South Africa’s voices of tomorrow, those with untold stories, and giving them a platform to express their ideas to a vast range of people.

She has published under top companies including one of the world’s big five publishers Pan Macmillan and Maverick451 the book publishing arm of one of South Africa’s largest and most respected news publishers Daily Maverick.

The 32-year-old is experienced in manuscript development, copywriting, programme management, marketing and communication strategy. Her publications include Days of Zondo by Ferial Haffajee, As You Like It: Vol. II: The Gerald Kraak Anthology, A Family Affair by Sue Nyathi and The Inheritors by Eve Fairbanks.

Sibongile, who holds a BA honours in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and a BIS: Publishing from the University of Pretoria, honed her skills in journalism, media and publishing over the years she was a presenter at Tuks FM.

Sibongile has been a reporter and photographer for Wits Vuvuzela and hosts engaging panel discussions at book launches. She is working on a YouTube channel to inform and educate those interested in publishing. Sibongile was selected for a Frankfurt fellowship in 2022 but had to decline after accepting a job at Jonathan Ball Publishers.

  • BIS: Publishing, University of Pretoria
  • BA (hon) Journalism and Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand 

Publishers do not often get awards in SA. Our achievements are often noted based on the success of our books. The success of a book is measured by sales figures, awards won and impact which, of course, is relative. With this in mind, I would say my most successful publications are The Inheritors by Eve Fairbanks, These Are Not Gentle People by Andrew Harding, Maverick Kids 2021 and As You Like It: Vol. II: The Gerald Kraak Anthology. I was also selected to be part of a Frankfurt fellowship in 2022 but had to decline after accepting a job at Jonathan Ball Publishers.

I have fond memories of Soul City — the show was on radio, TV, in comic books, and pamphlets. It was used as educational material in schools and churches to help people understand HIV. I remember thinking that is the coolest thing to experience. It is the reason I got into the storytelling business.

uSka te nyatsa. (Don’t underestimate yourself.)

We are in a bad place but, as an optimist, I would like to see an SA that has to move past the anger at a corrupt government, the fear of being a failed state and the complacency of waiting for a saviour. I would like to see an SA with the kind of urgency to get out of a bad situation similar to the one people had in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Where people have taken control of their lives, have organised to achieve collective goals and know that anything is possible. The result of that is the SA I hope for in five years. But first 2024.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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