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Prominent Ndebele author Pambilizwe Mpofu dies

Prominent Ndebele poetry and literature doyen, Pambilizwe Mpofu, has died, according to his family.

Mpofu passed away in the early hours of Monday at his homestead in Emaboleni, Lower Gweru.

Born in 1929, Mpofu died at the age of 95.

His son, Mehluli Mpofu, described his father as an “academic soldier.”

“He was born in Esikombingo village, Lower Gweru, by Mangisi Mpofu,” Mehluli said. “He received his primary education at Esikombingo. He attended Ezinyangeni for his high school education and then went to Nyathi Mission and Thekwane. From there, he went to Hope Fountain for teacher training, which influenced his decision to become a teacher and his writing style.”

Mpofu’s son further stated that his father significantly impacted numerous radio and television programs, including “Sakhelene Zinini.”

“My father was both a poet and an author,” Mehluli said. “He worked as a poet, writer, and book organizer. One of the books he co-authored with Nyamambi is ‘Imbila yaswela umsila.'”

“He also wrote ‘Kusile Mbongi Zohlanga’ and published numerous poems, including ‘Usuku olwandulela ikhisimusi’ and ‘Phakathi kwelitshe lembokodo.’ He collaborated with one of his surviving brothers on his poetry collection. Additionally, he contributed to projects like ‘Udumo lwezinkondlo,’ ‘Ugqozi lwezimbongi,’ ‘Ezivusa usinga,’ and ‘Izaga lamazwi ahlakaniphileyo.'”

“He worked for the Literature Bureau and eventually rose to the position of Chief Editor before retiring,” Mehluli continued. “His most recent work, ‘Izibongo lezangelo zazo,’ was published recently and is available for purchase.”

Mehluli described his father as a unifying figure who never showed favouritism within the family.

“A significant portion of his literature was utilised in primary and secondary schools. Mambo Press presently offers his works,” he said.

Mehluli added that his father advocated for education and supported underprivileged students by covering their school fees. “He also promoted education within the family. He had a social, academic, spiritual, and unifying influence on people,” he said.

“He was always forthcoming with information, and even schoolchildren would approach him with inquiries and requests for help analysing their poetry,” Mehluli said. “He also motivated me to pursue writing.”

According to Mehluli, the family, the Midlands province, and the entire Skobhingo community have lost a remarkable icon.

“There’s a lot we don’t know now; he was a true academic soldier,” he concluded.

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