(poet, playwright, academic)
In the rubble of facades
Every piece a victory
We’ll have to create
A monument of pieces
Every calendar day a monument
Every monument a victory
Every loss a victory
For we alone could afford another loss
We alone possess the ancestral touch
To turn every loss into a victory
― Monuments/Bhambatha 1991/97 by Maishe Maponya
MAISHE MAPONYA passed away on the 29th of July 2021. The Poet, playwright and academic was born in Alexandra township but grew up in Diepkloof Soweto after the forced removal and relocation of black people in 1961.
Maponya became a world-renowned playwright and one of South Africa’s foremost theatre-makers, with his 1979 play The Hungry Earth receiving critical acclaim and touring Britain, Germany and France. Some of his other plays include Peace and Forgive (1977), Umongikazi: The Nurse (1982), Dirty Work and Gangsters (both 1984), Changing the Silence (1985), Busang Meropa (1986) Jika (1988) and The Coat (1990).
In 1985, he became the first Black person to be awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist award for drama. He was a founding member of Bahumutsi Theatre Company (1973 – 1983). Through his interest in poetry, he developed a friendship with poet, painter and playwright Matsemela Manaka. They would eventually go on to find the Allah Poets– a group of creatives that composed of Manaka (a playwright), Mothobi Mutloatse, Es’kia Mphahlele, Makhulu Ledwaba (a unionist), Ingoapele Madingoane (a poet), Maponya (a playwright) and numerous other artists. Maponya was also the founder member of Bahumutsi Theatre Company (1973 – 1983). Between 2001 and 2003 he served as director of arts, culture and heritage services for the City of Johannesburg.
Maponya was a lecturer in drama at the University of the Witwatersrand, where he published a collection of his plays titled Doing Plays for a Change (1995). His other publications include two poetry collections, This Land Is My Witness (2016) and Da’s Kak in die Land (2018).