School of Arts

Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture to be presented at 25th Poetry Africa Festival

The 2021 Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture will take place on Monday 11 October at 5pm.
The 2021 Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture will take place on Monday 11 October at 5pm.

The 2021 Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture will be presented as a live-streamed panel discussion on the opening day of UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) 25th Poetry Africa Festival on Monday 11 October at 5pm. The lecture was launched in 2015 as a collaboration between the College of Humanities, South African History Online and the National Institute of Humanities & Social Sciences (NIHSS).

CCA Director, Dr Ismail Mahomed said, ‘The annual Mafika Gwala Memorial Lecture celebrates and highlights the extraordinary work of this literary legend, public intellectual and defender of social justice. He was one of South Africa’s finest poets who was known for his writings in both English and isiZulu. He used his pen to speak out against the injustice of apartheid, actively served in the Black Consciousness Movement and was a member of the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO) as well as the Black Communities Project in Durban. This year’s Poetry Africa festival is inspired by the line, “talk, should we not talk with deep open voices” from his poem Bonk’ahbajahile.

The theme for this year’s Poetry Africa Festival is ‘Unmute: Power to the Poet’.

The keynote address titled: What the Left forgot about the Left since Mafika Gwala, will be delivered by Professor Imraan Coovadia, a writer, and scholar who has served as the director of the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Creative Writing since 2011.

Author and academic, Dr Betty Govinden and professor emeritus at UKZN, Dr Michael Chapman, will join the panel, moderated by Mr Omar Badsha, the founder and director of South African History Online (SAHO).

‘Since the inaugural Mafika Gwala Annual Lecture, activists from the community of Mpumalanga Township near Hammersdale (where Gwala spent most of his adult life) have organised a number of literary projects with schools in the township and in Pietermaritzburg. SAHO has also published Gwala’s collected works,’ said Badsha.

Poet, writer and editor, Mafika Pascal Gwala was born on 5 October 1946 in Verulam outside Durban. He was a member of the Black Consciousness Movement and contributor to the Black Review and Staffrider. He produced two collections of poetry and collaborated on a third with Liz Gunner. Gwala performed at the 10th Poetry Africa Festival in 2006. He passed away on 6 September 2014.

The Poetry Africa Festival will be presented by the CCA with the support of the National Institute for Humanities, The French Institute of South Africa, and Total. It is freely accessible and can be watched via and

The Mafika Gwala panel discussion will take place at 5pm on Monday 11 October. RSVP here to join the Zoom Room: Please click the link to join the webinar:

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