Literary pioneer

2008-11-03 00:00

At the conferment of a number of national awards last week by President Kgalema Motlanthe, several sporting heroes, musicians and writers were intriguingly bracketed together. Alongside news of these, it was reported that another significant writer of our time, Es’kia Mphahlele, had died, aged 88.

Falling foul of the apartheid government as a young critic, Mphahlele went into exile in the United States where he became a recognised academic. He courageously returned home in the year after the Soweto uprising of 1976 to take up a professorship at the University of the Witwatersrand where he pioneered the development of a newly established department of African Literature. He played a key role in bringing this wealth of writing into the domain of academic discourse and appreciation in this country.

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