The Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship amount for 2021 currently stands at R30,000 (ZAR).

Essay topic for the 6th annual Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship (2000-3000 words):

At the beginning of her career, in an ostensibly autobiographical essay for The New Yorker (“A South African Childhood: Allusions in a Landscape” [1954]), Nadine Gordimer describes a trip to the Kruger National Park. The trip, however, was fabricated. Gordimer would actually first visit the park months after the essay had been published. She appears to have perceived the park as charged with the rituals and cultural expectations of bourgeois society. She told her biographer, “I had heard so many tales and seen so many home movies about the Kruger Park (‘My dear, and then the lioness walked right up to the car and sniffed the tire!’) that I almost dreaded going”(quoted in Roberts, 2005:136).

Years later, she returned to depicting the Kruger National Park in her short story, “The Ultimate Safari” (1991). The story is narrated by a young refugee from Mozambique who, with her family, crosses the national park on foot. In the migrants’ desperate bid to reach South Africa they are required to “move like animals among the animals, away from the roads, away from the white people’s camps”. The park is described as “a kind of whole country of animals” with a fence that “would kill you”.

Discuss Gordimer’s literary representation of the Kruger National Park in “A South African Childhood” (1954) and “The Ultimate Safari” (1991), considering the various social, historical and literary concerns which it registers and reflects. You can approach your discussion from any number or combination of angles; these might include, but are not limited to: the question of national borders and migrants, animals and different classes of people, the environment as politics, or the discursive construction of Africa.


As inspiration, you might enjoy listening to these two podcasts from The New Yorker magazine. The first, in which political novelist Joseph O’Neill reads her 1962 story “The Pet”, and another in which author Tessa Hadley reads Gordimer’s story “City Lovers” from 1991.

Please note:

a. Scholarship applications must be submitted via email to

b. Along with the applicant’s essay, the applicant’s submission must include scanned copies of the following:

1) A completed copy of the scholarship application form;

2) Proof of acceptance to the English Honours programme at UCT;

3) A copy of the applicant’s ID or passport; and

4) A copy of the applicant’s academic record.

c. All essays must be fully referenced and include a bibliography.

d. The applicant’s name and details should be provided on a separate cover page (with no personal information in running headers/ footers) to facilitate blind review.

e. All essays will be checked for plagiarism – any evidence of plagiarism will immediately disqualify your application.

f. Should your essay be selected for the scholarship, the scholarship prize will be paid directly into your UCT student account.

g. The Konstantin Sofianos Scholarship reserves the right not to award the scholarship in the event that a suitable applicant is not found.