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A 'legend' and a 'creative genius'

Date Released: Fri, 21 February 2014 12:40 +0200

Pioneer of African literature

Professor Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane meant many things to many people. Some have described him as a "legend" and a "creative genius", an outgoing person, who enjoyed good company as well as a good dialogue. Mzamane was born in 1948 in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni.

He died on February 16 at 65. He attended High School in Swaziland where he was taught by distinguished writer and journalist, Can Themba. Mzamane held academic positions in Lesotho, Botswana, England, Nigeria, US, Germany, Australia and in this country.

He also spent years in exile in Nigeria and spread South African literature there and conscientised people on our struggle. He was the first vice-chancellor of the University of Fort Hare in a democratic South Africa. He was the 2012 recipient of the African Literature Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, The FonlonNicholls Award, for creative writing, scholarship and human rights advocacy. Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile was among the people who paid tribute to Mzamane, saying he was a "great mind".

He said: "His incisive views, impeccable wisdom and abundant sense of humour will be be sorely missed." Mzamane was described by Nelson Mandela as a "visionary leader and one of South Africa's great intellectuals." President Jacob Zuma also conveyed his condolences to the family of the renowned intellectual and one of the country's foremost pioneers of African literature. Mzamane was appointed by Mandela and by his successor Thabo Mbeki to serve on the SABC Board.

Paying tribute to Mzamane, a friend, Andile Ma-Afrika heaped him with praise saying he was an "outstanding intellectual and academic" who was "spontaneous" yet very conscious of his deliverance. Ma-Afrika, an author and Phd candidate at the School of African Languages at Rhodes University, said: 'As I looked around for someone to write about the passing on of Professor Mzamane, I could think of no one else except Mzamane himself.

I am sure that he would have delivered a piece with no thread of a strain of explaining the meaning of who he was, for he would immediately jet into a language that he was and paint this moment of mourning with an imaginative power that would be appreciated by my reading mind. "Explaining was always overtaken by an exuberant energy in Mzamane.

Those of us who have always been obsessed with liberation literature and the minds of its composers have always marvelled at his intellect and the way it processed the food for our thought. I particularly enjoyed listening to the rhythm of his breath and I would be lost in imagining the inner voice behind the voice that I was hearing." Ma-Afrika added: "Mzamane's words would unfold like a current of consciousness and a stream of ideas flowing continuously, lifting me from the things that I have always taken for granted, into the world of control and order."

He said Mzamane was a very outgoing person, a people's person who enjoyed good company and good dialogue. "He welcomed me when I reached his door in UKZN (University of KwaZulu-Natal). I was visiting him to plead for a brotherly advice and guide while working on my first title." He remembered how Mzamane pushed aside all his work and attended to this "young brother who would pitch up without an appointment". Said Ma-Afrika: " I learnt he did the same for (author) Bessie Head, who came to his house on a Sunday in Botswana.

After listening to Bessie's frustrations on reaching a dead-end in her investigations on Khania, the Great, Professor Mzamane pulled the more than classic copy of Mhudi of Sol T Plaatjie from his bookshelf and passed it over to Bessie. Bessie Head was almost out of her mind with joy on landing her hands on that 'precious book'. Her pursuance of the land question in the "desperate struggle" of the Barolong gained new momentum. "Professor Mzamane will be sorely missed by everyone but fortunately he has left a legacy which will enshrine him on the minds of many.

Rest in peace Bra Mbu," said Ma-Afrika. Mzamane is survived by his wife and three children. He will be buried next Thursday in KwaThema, Springs, Ekurhuleni.

By Staff Reporter

Article Source: THE STAR AFRICA

 

Source:The Star Africa