Memory is the Weapon

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African Perspectives Publishing, Dec 1, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 178 pages
Donato Francesco Mattera has been celebrated as a journalist, editor, writer and poet. He is also acknowledged as one of the foremost activists in the struggle for a democratic South Africa, and helped to found both the Union of Black Journalists, the African Writers Association and the Congress of South African Writers. Born in 1935 in Western Native Township (now Westbury) across the road from Sophiatown, Mattera can lay claim to an intriguingly diverse lineage: his paternal grandfather was Italian, and he has Tswana, Khoi-Khoi and Xhosa blood in his veins. Yet diversity was hardly being celebrated at that time. In one of apartheids most infamous actions, the vibrant multicultural Sophiatown was destroyed in 1955 and replaced with the white suburb of Triomf, and the wrenching displacement, can be felt in Matteras writing. The story of his life in Sophiatown as told in this essay is intricate. Covering Matteras teenage years from 1948 to 1962 when Sophiatown was bulldozed out of existence, it weaves together both his personal experience and political development. In telling the story of his life as a coloured teenager, Mattera takes on the ambitious goal of making us recapture the crucial events of the 1950s in Sophiatown, one of the most important decades in the history of black political struggles in South Africa.

Selected pages


Chapter One Demolition
Chapter Two Bad News
Chapter Three To Become a Man
Chapter Four Sophiatown
Chapter Five DaiSok
Chapter Six A Brush with the Police
Chapter Seven Dumazile
Chapter Eight Other Faces of Kofifi
Chapter Nine Father Trevor Huddleston
Chapter Ten Pinocchio
Chapter Eleven Gangland
Chapter Twelve Jail
Chapter Thirteen The Change
Chapter Fourteen The Big Move
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About the author (2010)

Don Mattera, is a South African poet and author. He was awarded the PEN Award for his poetry collection Azanian Love Song in 1983, and the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa for his children's book The Five Magic Pebbles in 1993. His much acclaimed autobiography Memory is the Weapon was awarded the Steve Biko Prize when it was first published in 1987. He has worked as a journalist on The Sunday Times, The Sowetan, and The Weekly Mail (now known as the Mail and Guardian) and trained over 260 journalists. Don decided to convert to the Muslim faith and is now deeply involved in the Eldorado Park community where he resides. He has a special interest in young people and the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners.

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