Flaxman’s voice lives on

2017-11-29 06:01
Moalosi Jacob “Flaxman” Qoopane. Photo: Facebook

Moalosi Jacob “Flaxman” Qoopane. Photo: Facebook

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The world of journalism is mourning the death of veteran writer and literacy activist Moalosi Jacob Qoopane (62), widely known as Flaxman. This journalist, who was forced into exile by the apartheid regime, died on Wednesday (22/11).

At the time of his death he was employed as the communications officer in the office of the Mangaung Metro Municipality’s city manager. Tributes expressing shock and fond memories have been pouring in since Flaxman’s death.

Qondile Khedama, spokesperson of the Mangaung Metro, says a memorial service in honour of Qoopane will be held today (29/11) in the Floreat Hall in the Bram Fischer Building in Bloemfontein.

It is set to start at 12:00. His funeral will be held on Saturday (02/12) in Bloemfontein.

“At the city’s communication office, we recognise Flaxman’s skills, both literary and with spoken words. He brought leadership in the Mangaung Metro’s communication division and we admired each other.

“Flaxman played his role as writer, artist and literacy activist. It is unfortunate he died at a time we need thinkers in the field of journa-lism and communication to impart knowledge,” says Khedama.

Qoopane’s last post on Facebook on 28 October reads: “Greetings, all my Facebook friends and Somafco friends. You have been wondering what happened to me between August and now? I have been very, very sick. Even now I’m typing this note from a private hospital, no visit for now. I miss everyone.”

Somafco is the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College.

A stocky figure with a big voice, Flaxman is remembered for his passion for the art of writing. The exiled writer left a legacy for gene­rations to come in the form of a historic children’s library. The neat library in a shack dwelling, started in 2003 in the yard of his house in Hillview, Bloemfontein, is a monument to keep alive his memories that he surely will be remembered by. Qoopane’s chief objective in establishing the children’s library was to cultivate a love of reading in children at an early age.

Qoopane penned numerous books and poems. The veteran writer and poet of note learned and sharpened his writing craft in exile at Somafco, where he was among the countless students the previous regime had forced into exile. The college in Morogoro, Tanzania, was an educational institution established by the exiled ANC in 1978.

Qoopane returned to his native South Africa late in 1991 and wasted no time in putting to good use the journalism craft he acquired in exile by telling stories through poetry and writing. His footprints include writing essays, works of fiction and poetry, as well as freelancing for a range of print publications.

These include entertainment magazines and newspapers, which included Express early in the life of the publication. He also mentored aspiring poets and writers.

Qoopane’s old friend Omoseye Bolaji, an award-winning Nigerian writer who contributed especially in the Free State, paid tribute to Flaxman.

“Of course, I am filled with melancholy over Mr Qoopane’s demise.

“When I lived in South Africa, he and I had an incredibly fecund, exhilarating working relationship.

“We worked together on hundreds – maybe thousands – of stories, articles, features, etc. for a number of publications such as Next Magazine, Hola, Daily Sun and Free State News. It was a monumental period, as we also worked on many books together. I am happy that scores of books written by Qoopane are now stocked in great universities and literary centres worldwide.

“Flaxman Qoopane for decades always went out of his way to unearth, highlight and nurture burgeoning literary talent. I believe he is easily one of the greatest journalists and photo-journalists Africa has ever produced.

“How we’ll miss him!”


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