SARTORIAL LOOKS #26
PORTRAIT | Literary legend, scholar Ezekial ‘Es’kia’ Mphahlele- a former journalist at Drum Magazine ca 1950s photo by Jurgen Schadenburg.
Read an interview Es’kia Mphahlele’s African Literary Journey.
Emeritus Professor Es’kia Mphahlele (17 December 1919 – 27 October 2008) grew up in rural Limpopo and the slums of Marabastad. He went on to teach at Orlando High School before being banned from teaching for protesting against the introduction of Bantu Education; he was Literary Editor for DRUM magazine; he taught and developed Afrikan cultural programmes in other parts of Afrika and France and earned a PhD from the University of Denver (USA) while in exile.
His life’s work embraces his philosophy of Afrikan Humanism and offers over 50 years of profound insights on Afrikan Humanism, Social Consciousness, Education, Arts, Culture and Literature. The critical thoughts expressed in his writing, reveal the foresight of someone who challenges us to: “know our Afrika intimately, even while we tune into the world at large.”
He has been the recipient of numerous international awards that have sought to pay tribute to the efforts of this tireless scholar. In 1969 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 1984 he was awarded the Order of the Palm by the French Government for his contribution to French Language and Culture. He was the recipient of the 1998 World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award for Outstanding Service to the arts and education, and a year later he was awarded the Order of the Southern Cross by former President Nelson Mandela.
In 2000 Es’kia Mphahlele was awarded the Titan Prize in Literature as Writer of the Century.
Mphahlele’s life’s work represents a broad range of discourse on pertinent Afrikan issues. Its significance lies in the authenticity and relevance of Mphahlele’s response to centuries of cultural mutilation and his efforts to revive our Afrikan consciousness.