Nathi Mthethwa pays tribute to Chris van Wyk

2014-10-05 14:15

Celebrated author, Chris van Wyk – who died this week – was not just a writer but also an activist, says Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“We have been blessed to have had a creative intellectual and cultural activist of his calibre among us,” Mthethwa said today through his spokesperson Sandile Memela.

He was an outstanding writer who used his creativity and talent to fight the apartheid system and this contributed to articulating the vision and aspirations for a new society.

The Sunday Independent reported that Van Wyk died, aged 57, on Friday night after a battle with cancer.

The poet and writer was born in Soweto in 1957, and grew up in Riverlea – classified as a ‘coloured’ area during apartheid. He wrote more than 20 books, including two memoirs, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch.

Mthethwa highlighted how Van Wyk had used humour in his writing “to show the ludicrous side of apartheid”.

Mention was also made of the children’s series he wrote in which he adapted the biographies of struggle icons, including Nelson Mandela, to suit a younger reader.

Van Wyk was a “gallant son of the soil,” said Mthethwa.

In an obituary, posted on Books Live, Van Wyk was described as “one of the greats”.

Meanwhile, University of Free State Vice-Chancellor Jonathan Jansen tweeted a tribute to Van Wyk – describing him as a “writer of conscience who captured our pain and our hopes”.

Van Wyk is survived by his wife Kathy and two sons.

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