Dept conveys condolences to family of legendary author

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Arts and Culture has conveyed condolences to the family and friends of one of South Africa's legendary authors, Essien Itani Madima, 92, who passed away on heritage day.

"The Ministry of Arts and Culture is saddened by the passing away of this illustrious son of the soil, legendary author.

"Though he has passed on, he lives on in his writing. Our sincere condolences to family, friends and fans of Madima," Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana said.

Madima's daughter, Khathutshelo Madima, said her father died of natural causes at his home in Vhufulwi, Limpopo, last week.

Madima's first book Asiene was published in 1955 and is still prescribed at schools. He has published novels, poetry anthologies and drama books.

He fought for the development of Tshivenda amongst writers and academics and never hesitated to call for correction when he heard people making mistakes in the language.

A teacher, and later a principal, he was described as "an author for all seasons" who wrote for the preservation of the language as its best storyteller.

"He has completed his journey. He has done all he could to preserve his language and culture", Khathutshelo said.

Among other awards, Madima received the Pan South African Language Board's legendary award.

Tshivenda National Language Board chairperson Richard Madadzhe said Madima's death is a loss to the nation.

"His departure leaves a big gap. It will be difficult to find an author like Madima who wrote for the love of writing and was not influenced by money but for the development of the language," he said.

Madadzhe described Madima as a William Shakespeare whose writing remains consumable for generation after generation.