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Noni Jabavu’s Family Requests Help to Preserve Her Legacy (Plus: Documentary Clip)

The Ochre PeopleNoni Jabavu’s family is asking for assistance in preserving her legacy, writes Gcina Ntsaluba for the Daily Dispatch. Jabavu was an apartheid activist, journalist and author who was “awarded a lifetime achievement award by former Arts and Culture Minister Dr Pallo Jordan, as well as a best literature award in the Eastern Cape by the then sports, art and culture MEC Nosimo Balindlela”.

Born in the Eastern Cape in 1919, Jabavu was sent to boarding school in England at the age of 13. She became the first female and the first African to edit The New Strand, a British literary journal, in 1961 and worked as a journalist in both England and South Africa. Her memoirs, The Ochre People and Drawn in Colour, were landmark texts in writing on Africa and both addressed issues of identity as she moved between England and South Africa. She passed away at the age of 88 on 18 June 2008 in East London.

Jabavu’s grandson, Siyabonga Jabavu, told Ntsaluba that the family had approached Duma kaNdlovu, creator of the TV show Muvhango, to help them create a documentary about her life. He agreed and started the project, but unfortunately the funding ran out before it was completed. The family is now appealing “to the departments of arts and culture, the heritage council and anybody or institutions that can assist”. They are also trying to trace and collect all of her writing and artworks in order to archive them.

Watch a clip from the uncompleted documentary, which includes footage of Jabavu speaking about her family’s legacy:

The family of the late literary giant and activist Helen Nontando Jabavu, who was affectionately known as Noni, is appealing to all South Africans to assist them in reinstating her legacy as part of the country’s heritage restoration.

Schooled in England from the age of 13, Noni Jabavu was one of the first African female writers and journalists.

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