Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Veteran black journalist and poet extraordinaire Don Mattera was honoured in Johannesburg, South Africa at the SABMiller World of Beer on Saturday [24 January 2015]. The Media Fraternity Network hosted the lunch to honour Don Mattera that was sponsored by the SABMiller World of Beer.

The Media Fraternity Network is a loose structure supported by veteran journalists. Mpikeleni Duma, Len Maseko, Oupa Ngwenya and Ngila Muendane are part of this loose structure that is patronized by the


Mr Monwabi Fandeso, Director at the SABMiller welcomed the guests and aid it was a great honour to open the function of Don Mattera. He added that it was so good for the SABMiller to be part of such an event.

Veteran journalist Sello Sekola, and former City Press Political editor said he told Mpikeleni Duma, journalist and coordinator of the event that there were four veteran journalists who could talk competently about Don Mattera.

Sekola mentioned them at the gathering:  Joe Thloloe, Juby Mayet, Mike Mzileni and ZB Molefe. Sekola welcomed everybody at the function presided over by Sowetan newspaper deputy news editor Victor

Mayet paid tribute to Don Matterra and read one of the poems of dissident poet of Cape Town James  Matthews. Mayet said she knew Mattera for many years. Also, Mayet worked at renowned Drum Magazine and various newspapers before she retired.

Mike Mzileni, veteran photographer and  former City Press pictures editor told the audience that he and Don Mattera have seen the apartheid era and the democracy. He said that it was up to the young
generation to take it over. He lamented the plummeting standard of journalism in the country.

Joe Thloloe, former Sowetan managing editor, SABC TV news head and ETV and trade union activist said when he read Don Mattera's books it reminds him of Marikana, the shooting of the mine workers, and attacks of foreigners shops in Soweto.

"Your book, Don Mattera,' says Thloloe, " Memory Is the Weapon it reminds us of many thing that are happening in the country and nobody seems to notice them in totality."

Mathatha Tsedu, another veteran journalist told the gathering that he was from the farms of the Limpopo Province. "I used to read about Don Mattera's poems as a young man. In each and every protest rally Don Mattera would be featured and recite a political poem. I later met Don Mattera at rallies of the Azanian People Organization reciting poems against the apartheid government. Indeed it is a great honour to speak today here."

Thami Mazwai a colleague of Don Mattera and veteran journalist said people like the poet must be honoured. Mazwai said Mattera has sacrificed his life for the liberation of the country.

Don Mattera was born in Western Native Township [now Westbury], Johannesburg. He worked as a journalist on the Sunday Times, The Sowetan and Weekly Mail [Mail and Guardian]. He also wrote several books.

He was banned from 1973 to 1982. At the Sowetan newspaper he trained journalists on site about journalism in terms of writing, ethics, book reviews, feature writing and doing opinion pieces.

Themba Sepotokelo, a former student of Don Mattera at the Sowetan newspaper said he has gained a lot from the teachings of Don Mattera. " I learnt a lot from him. He taught us many things at the Sowetan
newspaper. Black senior journalist need to write their own books," says Sepotokelo.

 Sepotokelo urged the audience to donate for Don Mattera. Mattera refused the offer saying that the audience could rather buy his books. Mattera said he was worried of a number of poor people in South
Africa who are still in limbo.

Saths Cooper a renowned academic and political leader reader texted messages from his cellphone of his conversation with Don Mattera. He praised Don Mattera for his Ubuntu and courage. He said Don Mattera has shown courage in difficult circumstances.

Langa, the son of the late Sowetan newspaper editor Aggrey Klaaste said he was at the function to ask questions from the elder people. He announced that he was working on a documentary about his father.

Poet Maishe Maponya kept the audience in their stitches as he rendered his poem "Ant No Party". Miashe's poem highlighted the state of unedifying corruption in South Africa.

Ngila Muendane, one of the members of this loose structure criticized the Department of Military Veterans for failing to build a house for Don Mattera. Muendane said Mattera was living in difficult conditions.

In his replying remarks Don Mattera said: "I am happy that I am honoured today. It took a long time for this to happen. I am now 80 years old. I have sons and daughters, grandchildren to look after."

Snowy, Mattera's daughter cried as she recalled how her father brought them up. She said her father was a man of the people.

Socialite Nomsa Manaka was part of the audience including many veteran journalists. It was a remarkable day of kudos for Mattera, one of South Africa and Africa s outstanding bards.

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