Memory is the Weapon

2009-11-11 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Memory is the Weapon

Don Mattera

African Perspective Publishing

ONE of South ­Africa’s born-and- bred and celebrated writers, Donato Francesco (Don) ­Mattera, displays once again his narrative and writing prowess in his ­autobiography intertwined with his version of the history of Sophiatown and its subsequent demolition in the mid-fifities.

Mattera, a well-known poet, writes about the magic of one of the vibrant areas of South Africa, Sophiatown, and in it he captures his love for the area, some of the different characters he came across, and the pain and anger felt by those who were forced to stand still and watch their beloved community and homes torn to shreds by the apartheid government.

In the book Mattera explains how race classifications were ­determined and how the classes affected different races. Born of a seTswana mother and an Italian father, Mattera articulates in a ­poetic form his upbringing and his experiences of love, crime and family, but he does not diverge from narrating the day-to-day happenings typical of the Sophiatown that was the heart and soul of his generation and those before him.

In his poetic narration, Mattera unapologetically raises a feeling of nostalgia not only for those who experienced the magic of Sophiatown but also for those who have only read about it.

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