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Remembering Don Mattera through his books, awards and accolades

Poet and anti-apartheid activist Dr Donato Francesco Mattera has passed away on Monday. Mattera was born in 1935 in Westbury, Johannesburg.  He leaves behind a treasure trove of works from his autobiography ‘Memory Is The Weapon’ to Azanian Love Song.

Mattera helped found the Union of Black Journalists, and was a vocal opponent of apartheid. He also established several literary organisations including the Congress of South African Writers.

The acclaimed author leaves behind a wonderful collection of works, including Apartheid in the Court of History, Azanian Love Song, and his 1987 autobiography “Memory Is The Weapon.”

Mattera also received several awards from the Steve Biko Prize, WHO Peace Award (from the Centre of Violence and Injury Prevention) and the Mazisi Kunene Poetry Award among others.

Listed below are Don Mattera’s notable accomplishments, honours, and publications.

Awards & Accolades

  • Steve Biko Prize (for Memory is the Weapon)
  • 1983 Tucholsky Award (World PEN Association) for Azanian Love Song
  • 1993 Noma Children’s Book Award for The Five Magic Pebbles
  • 1997 WHO Peace Award (from the Centre of Violence and Injury Prevention)
  • 1999 Honorary Doctor of Literature (Univ of Natal)
  • SA Literary Awards – Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2006 Order of the Boabab
  • 2009 Honorary Doctor of Literature (Wits)
  • 2011 Honorary Doctorate (UNISA)
  • 2016 Mazisi Kunene Poetry Award
  • 2022 Ubuntu Awards: Arts Culture and Diplomacy Veterans Award

Important Works

  • Books Memory Is The Weapon (1987 autobiography)
  • Gone With The Twilight: The Story of Sophiatown
  • Five Magic Pebbles (children’s book)
  • Yolisa’s Map (children’s Book)
  • Plays Streetkids
  • Kagiso Sechaba
  • Apartheid in the Court of History
  • One Time Brother
  • Poetry Azanian Love Songs
  • Four Poems

Don Mattera Inaguaral Lecture

The Don Mattera Inaguaral Lecture took place at the Radisson Blu in Sandton under the theme “The Child – in 2030”.

Don Mattera Inaugural Lecture in March:


Content contributor at AFAL [African Alert]. Kevin is a passionate copywriter who is searching for fresh content every day.

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