The sad news of the passing our literary icon, Mafika Gwala, has been slowly sinking in and rippling through the literary world. He passed away on Friday night. We believe it was peacefully in his sleep.
Undoubtedly, this is a sad moment in South Africa, we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Your dear one, held us up with his words, inspired generations into writing.
Akalale ngoxolo uMphephetha.
We have a life and a great mind to celebrate and honour, we also have his work, his legacy to look to for solace.
Editor, zamantungwa, interviewed Mafika Gwala, here, about his his writing several years ago. At the 2014 National Arts Festival, he was honoured by fellow poets including Lesego Rampolokeng, Kabelo Mofokeng, Napo Masheane and others with a reading and a celebration of his work. And in what is probably his last interview, he is captured on film in the documentary Word Down the Line speaking to Lesego Rampolokeng about his work, about South African’s 20 years of Democracy and the work we still have to do as a nation. Read an interview Rampolokeng did with our poet ancestor for Chimurenga Chronic here.
Bibliography: Jol’inkomo (1977), No More Lullabyes (1985), edited Black Review. (1973), Musho! Zulu Popular Praises. With Liz Gunner (Michigan State University, 1991. Countless essays, reviews, short stories and such as Black Writing Today can be found in publications such as Staffrider, Classic, Ophir.
I looked back
I went through my pockets
They bit into my flesh (handcuffs).
Came the kwela-kwela
We crawled in.
The young men sang.
In that dark moment
It all became familiar.*