Don Mattera

South African poet, author, and anti-apartheid activist Don Mattera passed away in Pretoria, South Africa on Monday, July 18, 2022.

Donato Francisco Mattera, better known as Don Mattera or Bra Don, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1935. His unique heritage was derived from his Italian grandfather, Xhosa grandmother, and Tswana mother.

Some of the books he wrote were Memory is the Weapon (1987), Gone with the Twilight: A Story of Sophiatown (1987) (published in the USA as Sophiatown: Coming of Age in South Africa), The Storyteller (1989), and The Five Magic Pebbles (illustrated by Erica & Andries Maritz) (1992). He also wrote the plays Streetkids, Kagiso Sechaba, Apartheid in the Court of History, and One Time Brother which was banned in 1984. His poetry included Azanian Love Song (1994), and Four Poems.

He was given many accolades for his work including PEN Award for Azanian Love Song (1983), Noma Children’s Book Award for The Five Magic Pebbles (1993), Steve Biko Prize for his autobiography, Memory is the Weapon, South African Order of the Baobab in Gold for “Excellent contribution to literature, achievement in the field of journalism and striving for democracy and justice in South Africa” (2006), and Mazisi Kunene Poetry Award at the Poetry Africa International Festival, Durban. He also received honorary doctorates from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of South Africa (UNISA), and the University of Natal. In 2020, the Don Mattera Legacy Foundation was established in his honour.

He was laid to rest on Monday evening in accordance with Muslim rites.