LITERARY GIANT DROPS HIS PEN
Writer played his part in putting Xitsonga language on the map
AUTHOR Felix Alois Thuketana, who has been described as the greatest creative export ever from Burgersdorp in Tzaneen, Limpopo, has breathed his last.
Thuketana, who was a South African Literary Awards Lifetime Achievement citation recipient, among many other literary kudos, was born on December 5 1933.
His Xitsonga novels include and He has also written folk tales and translated several Christian booklets, including the seminal Deuteronomical scriptures. Thuketana ’ s first novel,
published in 1968, is the first serious novel in the history of Xitsonga literature.
After musicians like myself and Goodman Nghulele composed songs and poems inspired by the stirring novel, which depicted the vicissitudes in the life and times of a rural village woman. The book has since been re-issued as a classic by the National Library of South Africa. Thuketana ’ s last novel,
published by Timbila Books two years ago, is set in Limpopo and the old Lady Selborne township in Pre- toria, where Thuketana attended primary schooling. The novel chronicles the life of a marauding womaniser called Max Magwendere.
In the context of Xitsonga literature,
is one of the few novels written specially for enjoyment, and not necessarily for the school market.
Thuketana and his grandfather DZJ Mthebule started the Phusela newspaper in 1958 in Tzaneen. Through the Ecumenical Presbyterian Church, Thuketana was able to further his journalism studies at Mindolo Ecumenical Centre in Zambia in the 1960s.
Later, he became a member of the Christian Writers’ Fellowship of Afrika in Kitwe, Zambia. Since 2003, when the Xitsonga Writers Association was formed, Thuketana was active as the association’s specialist mentor in the genre of the novel until his death last Wednesday at Mankweng Hospital.
Thuketana taught and led schools in Timbavati, Bodweni, Timangeni and Gavaza in Limpopo until he retired in 1997.
He leaves behind his wife Louisa and three children – Dodo, Louis and Junny – and several grandchildren.
He will be buried in Burgersdorp tomorrow.
EXPONENT: Ex-journalist and novelist Felix Thuketana is no more