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DON MATTERA HONOURED (article first published : 2001-04-20)

Distinguished South African journalist and political and social activist, Don Mattera (Dlit) is among the honorary graduates at this weekend's University of Natal graduation ceremony.

Born in 1935 in Johannesburg, the son of an Italian sailor and a Tswana woman, he had a disrupted upbringing eventually becoming a streetchild and undergoing many brushes with the law and members of other gangs. Partly under the influence of Father Trevor Huddleston, he devoted himself to the political and cultural struggle against government oppression. This led to more harassment, torture, imprisonment, banning and three years of house arrest.

While his campaign as a resistance poet and his work as a journalist was curtailed, he worked tirelessly as a cultural and political organiser, and as a writer. He founded the Union of Black Journalists and co-founded AWA, the first black African Writers' Association, Skotaville Publishers and other Black Consciousness-based organisations. He has written and published poems, short stories, essays, autobiography, plays, children's stories and literary criticism, his best known works being the volume of poetry Azanian Love Song and an autobiography Memory is the Weapon.

Mattera has received many literary awards from a range of countries and has held Fellowships in America and Sweden. Currently with the Sowetan, he has worked for The Star, the community newspaper Roots, Finance Week, and the Mail and Guardian.




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