The Director of the Centre for African Literary Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and former Vice-Chancellor of University of Fort Hare was called a “visionary leader, [and] one of South Africa ‘s greatest intellectuals” by Nelson Mandela.
Victor Dlamini recorded a podcast with Mzamane for Books LIVE in 2008, remarking that the professor “has the ability to plunge straight into the belly of a narrative and bring forth its gentle resonances”.
Muxe Nkondo wrote about Mzamane in an obituary for the Mail & Guardian:
Part of Mbulelo Mzamane’s creative brilliance was his capacity for being nakedly himself. He kept his unique individuality unsmudged and preserved a kind of purity of self even in the most ordinary of occasions.
Add to this Mzamane’s unabashed, indefatigable interest in the self of ordinary men, women and children, and the complexity of that self – rare, anomalous, magnificently interesting, curious, tremendously suggestive – and one sees how Mzamane’s creative writing and his public discourses may be one of the great autobiographies of literature.
This great loss to the literary community was mourned by many on Twitter:
rest in peace Prof Mbulelo Mzamane (1948-2014) author, academic
— Poetry Potion (@poetrypotion) February 17, 2014
Mbulelo Mzamane, you had so much left to write, insights to share. Did you finish 'The Mbeki Turn: South Africa after Mandela'? #RIP
— Richard Humphries (@RichardHumphri1) February 17, 2014
Robala ka kgotso Ntate Mbulelo Mzamane. Another of the beautyful ones departs
— Refilwe Nkomo (@Flokomo) February 16, 2014
Sad and shocking news of the passing on of Prof Mbulelo Mzamane this morning. May his revolutionary soul rest in graceful n eternal peace.
— Mandisa Mcelu (@MMcelu) February 16, 2014
"In Japan, children learn Japanese history. In the US, they learn US history. Which history do our kids learn in SA?" – Mbulelo Mzamane #RIP
— Lebo Mashile (@lebomashile) February 16, 2014
It is sad that Prof. #Mbulelo Mzamane has passed away. What a literary giant!
— Dante Tebogo Mashile (@tebmohau) February 16, 2014
"One thing the President hated most even those days was to be ignored." – Mbulelo Mzamane, on Mandela
— Thando Mgqolozana (@thando_mgqo) February 16, 2014
A giant in the educational, cultural, and political landscape in SA, UMTAPO leader, Prof Mbulelo Mzamane passed on this morning.
— UMTAPO (@UMTAPO2014) February 16, 2014
Devastated at the passing of Mbulelo Mzamane. After reading his Children of Soweto I realised I wanted to write, today I'm a journalist.
— Tebogo Alexander (@TeboAlex) February 16, 2014
Paul Mashatile, the Minister of Arts and Culture released a statement paying tribute to Mzamane:
Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, Pays Tribute to the late Prof. Mbulelo Mzamane
It is with a deep sense of shock and sadness that we learned of the passing of Prof Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane yesterday. The arts and academic communities have been robbed of a creative genius whose wisdom has touched many lives.
Mzamane was described by the late President Nelson Mandela as a “visionary leader and one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals”. He was born in 1948 in Brakpan, Johannesburg. He attended High School in Swaziland where he was taught by distinguished writer and journalist, Can Themba. He held academic positions in Lesotho, Botswana, England, Nigeria, USA, Germany, Australia and South Africa. He also spent years in exile in Nigeria and the USA and spread SA literature there and conscientised people on the South African struggle. He was the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare in a democratic South Africa. He was the 2012 recipient of the African Literature Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, The Fonlon-Nicholls Award, for creative writing, scholarship and human rights advocacy.
Mzamane served South Africa, the African continent and the diaspora with laudable excellence. He worked closely with Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Nawal El Saadawi as co-chairs of BUWA! African Languages and Literatures into the 21st century. He was appointed by both former presidents Mandela and Thabo Mbeki into various advisory boards. He was also involved with some aspects of the National Development Plan. When former Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Z Pallo Jordan received a shipment of African Classics, he ensured that it went to Prof. Mzamane who was Director of the Centre for African Literary Studies located at the Pietermaritzburg campus of UKZN. In June last year he was the guest speaker at the inaugural Can Themba Memorial Lecture alongside Nadine Gordimer and Joe Thloloe. At the time of his death he was the Project Leader and General Editor of the Encyclopedia of South African Arts Culture and Heritage (ESAACH).
“We extend our heartfelt and deepest condolences to his family, friends, and everyone who have benefitted from his wisdom, friendship and generosity. His incisive views, impeccable wisdom and abundant sense of humour will be sorely missed. South Africa has lost yet another great mind,” concluded Minister Mashatile.
Prof. Mzamane’s legacy will live on through all his writing and his students whom he had impacted greatly.
- The Children of Soweto by Mbulelo Mzamane
Find this book with BOOK Finder!