Golden Lion is awarded posthumously to Ingrid Jonker

On May 20th, 2013, posted in: Academic, Achievement, Culture, Featured, News, Writing by

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In a moving ceremony held at Wynberg Girls’ High School, Simone Venter (daughter of Ingrid Jonker) was asked to receive the Golden Lion Award posthumously on behalf of her mother. This is the highest award the school gives and was given in recognition of the significant contribution her mother made to South African Literature and her strong voice against the inequalities of the South African society in which she lived.

During the ceremony in which we learnt of her life as a Wynberg girl, as a poet and heard some wonderfully kind and encouraging words from her daughter and in which a number of her poems were read (one of which was written when she was a Standard 7 (or Grade 9) pupil, perhaps one of the most moving parts of the ceremony was the singing of “Toemaar die donker man” – a poem dedicated by Ingrid Jonker to her daughter, Simone, and sung by Natalie Winter.



Simone visited Wynberg Girls’ High School to donate a biography about her mother,  to the school. The biography, Ingrid Jonker – A POET’S LIFE, is written by Petrovna Metelerkamp and is the first comprehensive biography to appear in English

Ingrid Jonker and her sister Anna, were pupils at Wynberg Girls’ High School from 1947 until she matriculated in 1951. She and wrote poetry for the school’s magazine with poems being printed in the 1947 and 1948 editions of the school magazine.

Encouraged by her teachers, Ingrid submitted a collection of poems for publication. Her first collection of Afrikaans poems, Na die somer (“After the summer”) was produced before she was thirteen. Although rejected, her work received the attention of writer and poet D.J. Opperman. By the age of sixteen, Ingrid and Opperman corresponded regularly, his views influencing her work significantly.

Although several publishers were interested in her work, she was advised to wait before going into print. Her first published book of poems, Ontvlugting (“Escape”), was eventually published in 1956, only 5 years after she matriculated.

The school’s most prestigious award is the Golden Lion Award. The criteria for this special award reads,

  • A learner who has excelled in one or more of the four pillars (academics, sport, service, culture) and
  • who has an above-average academic record
  • and whose attitude towards school and whose character best display the qualities defined in our motto “Honour before Honours” and
  • and who is a credit to her school and community

Ingrid Jonker was both a poet and a South African; she was an Afrikaner and an African; she was both an artist and a human being. She was a Wynberg Girl.