Tributes have been paid to the late poet Dr Don Mattera at a memorial service held in Johannesburg. The renowned author and poet died at the age of 87 on Monday, 18 July.
At the memorial service, several tributes were made for the legacy that Mattera leaves. The Joburg City Theatre has also made a commitment to continue his legacy. The theatre has pledged to honour with an Emerging Writers Awards project.
The artistic director James Ngcobo said Mattera said it was important that the poet’s legacy live on in the lives of young writers and aspiring poets.
“He was never a hoarder of the gift and the knowledge that he had. There is a lot of young writers who had an audience with him and learnt so much from him. He set a bar for young writers to have somebody that they look up to and it is such generosity that I feel is so important.” James Ngcobo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also paid tribute to Mattera in the wake of his death: “As a nation, we are saddened by the loss of Don Mattera’s eloquent, rousing and revolutionary voice for justice.”
At the memorial service there were several performers and speakers who paid tribute to Mattera, including International Relations and Co-operation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor, Johannesburg Mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse, musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, singer and actress Abigail Kubheka, poet Lebo Mashile and poet and sculptor Pitika Ntuli.
— The Don Mattera Legacy Foundation (@MatteraLegacy) July 25, 2022
SA History online has a comprehensive bio of Mattera and writes: “Donato Francisco Mattera was born in Western Native Township, now called Westbury, Johannesburg in 1935. His grandfather was an Italian immigrant who married a Xhosa or Khoisan woman from the Cape. His grandfather then moved to Johannesburg where Mattera’s father was born and classified Italian by the authorities. His mother was a Motswana and domestic worker in Johannesburg.”
“Mattera has written poetry and an autobiography, called Memory is the Weapon. He has written plays and children stories. He was awarded the Steve Biko Prize for his autobiography. Mattera has worked as a journalist on The Sunday Times, The Weekly Mail, now Mail & Guardian and The Sowetan.”