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South Africa mourns legendary poet Don Mattera


SOUTH Africans from all walks of life have paid tributes to and celebrated the extraordinary life of Don Mattera, the poet, author, cultural activist and community leader who passed away after a short illness.

Mattera – 87 – was buried at the Heroes Acre at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Mattera, who was honoured in 2006 by the government  with the Order of the Baobab for his “excellent contribution to literature, achievement in the field of journalism and striving for justice in South Africa”


President Ramaphosa said: “As a nation, we are saddened by the loss of Don”

Mattera’s eloquent, rousing and revolutionary voice for justice. As we observe International Nelson Mandela Day, we remember Bra Don as a patriot, who in the spirit of this commemorative day, did what he could, with what he had, where he was. May his soul rest in peace as, in his own prose, he sleeps the sleep of freedom.”

Fellow poet Lebo Mashile paid a warm tribute to Mattera on Twitter: “Dr Donato Monnapula Mattera, aka Bra Don, aka Bra Zinga, poet, gangster, activist, Muslim, Pan-African, orator, journalist, playwright, & human encyclopedia. My life would be impossible without yours. Sending love to your family that shared you so generously with the world. RIP.”

The Tambo Foundation said it was devastated to learn of the passing of the veteran poet & activist. Mattera, the Foundation said, left behind an incredible body of work spanning decades.

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By Don Mattera

Remember to call at my grave

When freedom finally

Walks the land

That I may rise

To tread familiar paths

To see broken chains


Fallen prejudice

Forgotten injury

Pardoned pains

And when my eyes have filled their sight

Do not run away for fright

If I crumble to dust again

It will only be the bliss

Of a long-awaited dream

That bids me rest

When freedom finally walks the land…


By The African Mirror