13 February 2015
Andre Brink, Nelson Mandela, Cyril Ramaphosa, Libraries, Literature and Connections
Many tributes and eulogies have been written since the news of André P Brink’s passing on 6 February 2015. May his soul rest in peace. The loss of the South African novelist and literary giant who used his pen to expose social and political injustices and challenges, a critic of Apartheid, author of the first novel Afrikaans novel to be banned by the South African government and renowned academic was keenly felt. Insight into André P Brink the person was tenderly shared by family friends and colleagues. Interspersed with humour and at times pathos, it offered a glimpse into the life of the man beyond his stature as recipient of many awards both at home and abroad. His contribution to South African society is unquestionable.
It is symbolic in a way that the most final farewell, Brink’s private cremation took place on the 11 February 2015, on the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from imprisonment. In the apartheid years, Brink’s post was similarly censored and he bemoaned the fact that he was usually the last person to read his own mail.
Yesterday, in his youth engagement speech at Harare Library, Khayelitsha, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa read from Brink’s novel, The Rights of Desire, to bring home the wonderment of libraries. He spoke about the transformational opportunities to be gained from the richness of South African libraries and authors and the key role of books and literature in uplifting society through dialogue and cohesion; the latter resonates with the 2015 South African Library Week theme ‘Connect @ your library’. As part of the campaign, the Deputy President held discussions at Harare Library with South African authors and publishers including acclaimed local author Lauren Beukes whose Creative Writing Masters dissertation was supervised by André Brink. We are all connected through libraries and literature.
Our greatest South African, Madiba himself must have had André P Brink in mind when he said: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.” A true son of Africa; in acknowledgment of André Brink’s contributions together with that of other South African greats to our society, let’s flock to the libraries and READ, go home with library books and READ. READ to your children, your friends, your family; READ in a group, on the bus, the train, the taxi, on your cellphone or tablet; just READ!
LIASA President 2014-2016
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