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August Debut

Issue 2; October/November


Don Mattera

 Don Mattera's books for Re-Issue

Don Mattera, one of the noted South African literary names to engage his art and life with the resistance struggle, was born Donato Francisco Mattera, in Western Native Township (now Westbury), 1935. He has worked as a journalist and editor and is a patron of many South African organisations (over 100). Mattera helped found the Union of Black Journalists and the Congress of South African Writers. He holds an honorary doctorate degree in Literature from the University of Natal and has been awarded the Order of Ikhamba by the President of South Africa.

African Perspectives Publishing has recently partnered with Don Mattera's African Morning Star Publications to re-release three of Mattera's most important works on a commercial scale. Azanian Love Song, Memory is the Weapon and The Five Magic Pebbles and Other Stories will be published and widely distributed by the company, owned and run by Rose Francis. The new editions will feature updated covers that fully reflect the importance of the works, and will be available in bookstores across South Africa and Africa. African Morning Star owns all the copyrights to Don Mattera's literary work, and the deal will see one of South Africa's foremost literary figures receiving the lion's share of royalties – a privilege that no other publisher was willing to consider. Born in 1935 in Western Native Township (now Westbury), Mattera is an internationally acclaimed and decorated poet and writer. Importantly, the new publishing deal will expose his works to the emerging generations of South Africa's young democracy.

First to be re-printed is Azanian Love Song, considered Mattera's most famous poetry book. The volume was written by Mattera during and after his years in Sophiatown. The anthology is widely considered an important historical document in South African literature, as emphasised by Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Pallo Jordan, who gave away 1000 copies of the book during the 2007 'Celebrating Poetry' Heritage Day. Dr Jordan said: “Africa’s poets have throughout her history been the agents for the recording, preservation, the transmission and the restoration of the hopes of her peoples. We call on our poets to continue in that noble pursuit.”

Rose Francis of African Perspectives agrees that the republishing of Mattera's works is an important step in ensuring that the Minister's words ring true. “Justice is being done to the memory of the struggle,” she said. “This deal will ensure that one of our great writers is fully accessible across the country and the continent, and that he starts to benefit, as he so deserves, from a renewed presence in bookshops, libraries and schools.Azanian Love Song is not mere protest poetry or a tirade against the oppressor, but a message of hope from a son of the oppressed... It is strong poetry because it is biographical. The poet has felt the involvement of the struggle...” the Al Qalaam newspaper stated recently.

Memory is the Weapon is the second of the three Mattera books scheduled for publication. It is an autobiographical work that has won him the admiration of many readers at home and abroad. Through this Sophiatown narrative, first published in 1987, Mattera captured the moods and real personal and community experiences of a South African town’s historical moment. Memory is the Weapon has been translated into German and has won a number of awards in Scandinavian countries. The third new issue from Mattera is The Five Magic Pebbles and Other Stories, a children's book of collection of stories. This book won Mattera the NOMA Special Mention Award as well as the Book Chat Award.

Don Mattera lives in Eldorado Park and remains a strong community figure. He is the national patron of a number of organisations, notably youth organisations and those serving the handicapped and disabled. “That is because I am handicapped myself. I am deaf in my left ear and blind in my left eye... I mean we are all disabled in some way,” explains the writer, also looking forward to the re-release of his books. “It's an exciting moment for me,” he concludes. “It's always such a pleasure to see your books being read and enjoyed by new readers.” Mattera’s other works include: Exiles Within – poetry (The Writers' Forum, 1984), Kagiso Sechaba and One Time Brother – (plays, Open School, 1983), Inside the Heart of Love (poetry, AVS, 1997) and The Storyteller (short stories, Justified Press, 1991)..

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