The late writer Es'kia Mphahlele is honoured at Sammy Marks Square. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

Pretoria - The admirers of the late writer Es’kia Mphahlele congregated at Sammy Marks Square to celebrate what would have been his centenary anniversary and also especially his contribution to literature.

They used the occasion to make calls for government to honour Mphahlele by starting a bursary for literature students in his name.

The doyen of English studies at Unisa Prof Kgomotso Masemola said: "The Department of Arts and Culture is in a position to sit down and think about how best it can take his work forward by having a bursary for literature students named after Eskia Mphahlele and a prize named after him."

Masemola lamented the fact that Mphahlele's work was less known in the country despite that it elicited much interest from many people abroad.

He further suggested that his literary work can be popularised in schools, where children could be encouraged to read his short stories.

He said students at universities should be sensitised to the critical essays that he wrote.

"The critical reflection by scholars on his work will also seal the deal. We have an institute (in his honour) but I think we can do more," he said.

In addition, Masemola proposed that an idea of making a film based on his biographies must be explored and turned into reality.

"The things I have detailed about him in Lesotho, going to Nigeria and Kenya can make for a good movie. Who else do you know who would have set up a cultural centre in Kenya, in Europe?" he said.

One of Mphahlele's admirers James Boake described him as an African giant in literature, adding that it was important to continue to unearth his selfless contribution to life.

"The life and legacy of Es’kia Mphahlele would continue to be cherished and celebrated," he said.

One of his fans Ofentse Maaronganye said she had an opportunity to meet Mphahlele when she was an English student in 1992.

"One thing I admired about him was his love for his mother tongue Sepedi and his love for the land," she said.

The event was marked with the recitation of poems, dances and reading of some of Mphahlele's work.

Besides being a prolific writer, Mphahlele held numerous other hats for his works he did as an educationist, artist, activist and African humanist. 

He was born in 1919 in Marabastad and died on December 27 2008 and yesterday marked his 100 year anniversary.

He wrote books, which included his autobiography titled Down Second Avenue, The Africa Image and A Guide to Creative Writing.

In July 2004, the City of Tshwane renamed its library at Sammy Marks after him.

Pretoria News