Tuesday, December 26, 2017


By Raphael Mokoena

The publishing industry continues to trundle on, despite travails. Even here in Africa progress continues to be made in unearthing new literary gems, bringing out new works by the established wordsmiths etc. The year 2017, now reaching its end, has not been different. 

But to be honest, for me the year 2017 in respect of African literature was outstanding mainly because of the demise of three exceedingly revered, highly talented writers, all of them belonging to the pantheon of our all time literary greats: Peter Abrahams, (above) Miriam Tlali and Buchi Emecheta.

Peter Abrahams, and Miriam Tlali, both from South Africa were pioneers and trail blazers.  Abrahams a 'coloured' writer left SA as a very young man and went on to the dazzle the world with a string of superb novels and general works, making the horrors of racial discrimination known globally via his writings. Works of his like Mine Boy, and Tell Freedom live on in World consciousness. 

Miriam Tlali (above) was the first black woman from South Africa to publish an excellent novel, Muriel at Metropolitan, or Between two Worlds - the title she preferred. She went on to write and publish several other creative works, including short stories.  Her name is etched in gold in African literature. 

As for the loss of Buchi Emecheta (below) - what a wonderful writer! Never mind that she was female.  A Nigerian by birth, she did wonderful things for African writing. She published at least twice the number of novels that the illustrious Achebe published. Her works are all powerful in their own way, pushing feminine writing and ideas to the fore. Emecheta was world class, focused, brilliantly creative and was a pioneer too.

So, three great African writers left us in 2017, all of them pioneers and world class to boot.  We should continue to read their literary works and celebrate them! But this 2017...


Eric said...

This piece almost brings tears to one s eyes. I think Mr Soqaga the SA critic has written in detail about the loss of the main literary protagonists here. And whoever could have imagined that Mr Qoopane would give up the ghost this year?

Leke Giwa said...

This is a very interesting perspective, though depressing for Africa in toto as regards literature. It does seem uncanny that a trio of pioneers, greats in our writing could all have died in this 2017. Their works should continue to live on though. After all, after hundreds of years since his death, Shakespeare lives on.

TM THIBA said...

This are sovereign legend of literature and their legacy will live on. I reminisce literature lover who rested eternity recently, Mr Qoopane. Whom his work is celebrated world wide.