Sunday, September 6, 2009

KPD Maphalla - a superb Sesotho Writer

KPD Maphalla – a superb Sesotho writer

KPD is one of the all-time greats of Sesotho literature. Still only in his mid 50’s he has already published well over 40 books! The University of the Free State honoured him with an Honorary Doctorate in 2007 thanks to his excellence in writing in his Mother tongue.

For many years (apart from those who knew the man personally) rumours circulated that the author (Maphalla) was a “syndicate”; that there was no way any writer, especially a black African one, could be so prolific. (Perhaps there are parallels here with the English writer Enid Blyton who in her lifetime wrote and published so many books that many wondered whether this was humanly possible). But Dr. Maphalla has been seen physically at literary gatherings, especially whilst being honoured more than a few times. He is certainly not a myth!

Maphalla's works of fiction in the Sesotho language are liberally read and studied in many schools in South Africa. Studies on the man’s works have also been published by scholars. The distinguished writer has not enjoyed the best of health in recent times, but this does not mean he is no longer writing.

Indeed in recent times he published another excellent book in Sesotho, titled Ha Maru A Rwalellana. It is quite a thick book that shows Maphalla is not resting on his laurels. He is already a legend, following in the footsteps of the likes of Thomas Mofolo and JJ Moiloa, distinguished Sesotho writers (now deceased)

Despite the despair of commentators on the general dearth of quality writing in the Sesotho language, in recent times younger writers in the genre – especially Thabo Mafike – have been showing great promise. But of course they have a very long way to go before they can even be mentioned in the same breath as the illustrious Maphalla.

Pule Lechesa, literary critic, who has also published a couple of works in Sesotho (both translation) says: “As a Mosotho I am very happy to see good works published over the years by Sesotho writers. It is sad that recently some sub-standard writers in the language have emerged – lacking the length, breadth, characterization etc needed to produce quality works in the (Sesotho) language. But at least people like Maphalla will always be icons,”

Other works written by KPD Maphalla – who started writing as a young man from his QwqQwa base – include Mohlahlobi, and Ha Ditswere Di Tsanyaola.

KPD Maphalla is also the brainchild behind MoabaSesotho, a national association of Sesotho writers.

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