At the Inaugural Lecture held in honour of Don Mattera earlier this year, the keynote speaker at the event and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen, said he will always cherish the courage displayed by freedom fighter, Don Mattera in fighting against the “classification” of the people in South Africa.
Professor Jansen delivered the inaugural lecture of the Order of Ikhamanga recipient, Don Mattera, in Sandton, Johannesburg.
Jansen praised Mattera for setting a good path for generations to come, that they must refuse to be confined in terms of race, culture, and educational background.
“Donato Francesco Mattera seems to me, who defies classification. And that is a very different thing to say in a county that is out of fixing people’s classification in terms of race, culture and religion, and the likes. But Don Mattera actually defies in his very life and being any form of classification,” Jansen said.
Among his many contributions, Mattera helped establish the Union of Black Journalists, and was a vocal opponent of apartheid. He also established several literary organisations including the Congress of South African Writers.
Mattera passed away on Monday and will be buried according to Muslim rites at the Lenasia Cemetery.
The Don Mattera Inaugural Lecture held in March:
Outspoken critic of apartheid
Throughout his career, he served as a writer, journalist and anti-apartheid activist. His autobiography “memory is a weapon” celebrates life in Sophiatown in the 1950s.
An outspoken critic of apartheid, he spent eight years under house arrest. He used poetry to express what was happening in South Africa during apartheid.
National Poet Laureate of South Africa Professor Mongane Wally Serote, worked closely with Mattera over the years. He says Mattera dedicated his time in many communities mentoring young people in the field of arts.
“Don Mattera was a very strong freedom fighter and anti-apartheid activist, a community activist but also from that he rose to become a national figure in the struggle against apartheid, against colonialism but also Don Mattera was an educationist. Besides being a journalist, he also worked tirelessly in communities to train young people in art and poetry. He recently formed a foundation through which he was trying to reach out to the nation, to the continent as a pan Africanist.”
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