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BKO No 2 Vo1 5 - Don Mattera
One of South Africa’s influential poets is Donato Fransisco Mattera. Mattera’s work is perennial, and he has influenced a whole generation of South African writers. Mattera’s Memory is a Weapon is relevant now as it was when it was published in 1987 by the historical Ravan Press. His Azanian Love Song is a go-to poetry book for many other poets.
Mattera writing “uses images of a bloodied earth and a dying sun in juxtaposition with those of fruit, harvests and seasons. He rails at the injustice of apartheid, but declares that hate and vengeance only perpetuate vicious cycles of death and further retribution.” Mattera’s work reflects the apartheid times; it harks into the current and the future. He has written against the brutality and violence of apartheid. He was one of the most robust critiques of the apartheid establishment – as a journalist, activist and a poet. After 1994, Mattera’s poetic prowess did not abate. He has written about democracy, love, the black condition. As Bernad Magubane puts it, Mattera did not write about South Africa from the point of “contemplation, but the thick of the struggle.” Magubane gives reason to why Mattera was called the “Bard of the people’s liberation struggle.” Mattera’s work is intricate. It provides proper context to the racist past of South Africa. His narrative of Sophiatown remains an unparalleled and resolute authority on the slum-township demolished in the 1950s. This demolition and forced removal that sought to separate people by race motivated Mattera into political activism in action and his literature.