Ronnie Govender. Picture: Supplied
Ronnie Govender. Picture: Supplied

Legendary activist and playwright Ronnie Govender has died

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Award-winning Durban activist, playwright, director and author, Ronnie Govender, has passed away.

The 85-year-old doyen of community theatre died on Thursday, April 29 from age related illnesses.

Parusha Naidoo, granddaughter of Govender said: "We were dancing with him and having good conversations until very recently".

Govender’s funeral will be held at his home in Cape Town.

Govender, famously known for his colourful storytelling in both books and on theatre stages, captivated audiences around the world.

Some of his books included “Song of the Atman”; “Black Chin White Chin” and “At the Edge and Other Cato Manor Stories”, which was used as a school set-book.

“The compilation storybook held tales of his childhood growing up in Cato Manor. The book was later turned into a one-woman show performed by renowned actress Jailoshini Naidoo.

Hearing of Govender’s passing, playwright, director and actor Ashwin Singh said: “Ronnie was a fine playwright and novelist and a true son of the soil.

“He was a pioneer of Indian South African Theatre and a mentor to many young artists, across the cultural spectrum. My condolences to his family.

“He will be missed by the South African and international artistic community.”

Actor Jack Devnarain said Govender was the quintessential storyteller who delighted in the stories and characters he created.

“He loved bringing them to life from the written word to stage.

“I was privileged to work with him as a young actor, learning the rigours and discipline of theatre craft.

“He had a formidable presence and maintained a true humility in all his work.

“He will be remembered as a fearless activist, whose creative spirit fought for the dignity of humanity with every chapter of his remarkable life,” said Devnarain.

Saddened friends, fans and students also flooded social media with condolence messages.

“Uncle Ronnie deeply missed maestro of wordish. A giant of the intricacies.

“They leave on rightly coloured wings to fly high with angels about the Valley of Eternity,” said Mikhail Peppas.

While Mello Gilbert said: “Very sad indeed. Such a wonderful man! So humble. He allowed me to produce his ”At The Edge“ as a school production. may he rest in peace”.

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