In memory of the Doyen of African Literature – Es’kia Mphahlele

pict1BORN: 17 December 1919

DIED: 27 October 2008


Retired in peace

You served our nation well

Go from this doldrum of fire

Called work for a living.

For too long the Africa spirit

Kept your body and soul

In perfect harmony

In your long quest

For meaning in life;

While in distant horizon

Of the unknown

You gathered

Strength and wisdom

And long buried truth

Of this land, this fruit of eternity.


You finally came home

With the evening breeze

To our beloved country.

Now you can wake up

With the morning star

And listen to ancestors

Before they return

To their secret dwelling places

That may be found

In the meandering rivers

And adulating mountains.

Their return must happen

Before the cock crow thrice.


Let your retirement

Bring you closer to

The essence of Africa

That seeks no affirmation

From colonial experts on Africa.

The African continent knows you

As the great doyen and poet

Whose fame and glory has broadened the horizon

Of knowledge to the universe itself.


May your retirement continue

To strive for human excellence

Until we join you in a libation

Underneath a Marula tree

And talk about the pages

In a way that you, Es’kia Mphahlele

In a moment of inspiration

Once told me:

‘A cultured human being

does what cells do

When your creativity

Captures the inner harmony

And inner movement of life in its beauty

Its strength, its sublime dignity of endurance,

Its pilgrimage to the unknown

Through the tiniest gates of reincarnation’

We shall look in the corners and crevices

Of our mind for the love of life

And become artists with a penetrating eye

And look into the bygone days

for a generation of tomorrow.


R.I.P  Es’kia Mphahlele