A Giant Has Fallen

The South African Literary Award (SALA), an initiative of the wRite associates, express our heartfelt condolences at the passing on of Dr Aaron Gubudla Malindzisa, aged 76.

 Dr Malindzisa has been a member of the SALA family as both an Afrikaans and Siswati languages Adjudicator since 2006.

Malindzisa was a prolific Siswati author of both short and long fiction, linguist, literary, translator, adjudicator and one of the pioneering Siswati luminaries whose contribution to the language and the literary community in South Africa will be difficult to quantify.

An ever-smiling and jovial figure, the old man loved to relate the story of how he became an accidental linguist when he was working in a law firm and was roped in to interpret one day when the official interpreter was absent.

“From that day onwards, the lawyer loved my work and I became his official interpreter and that deepened my understanding and appreciation for both Siswati and Afrikaans”, he mused.

Malindzisa lived the life that was later ficitionalised by the late Joe Mafela, in the legal sitcom, Going Up.

Malindzisa was always a man on the move. It was not long at the law firm that he moved to the South African Broadcasting Corporation as a Siswati bulletin writer after the Siswati service was set up.

“Back then we would be confronted with Afrikaans news bulletins of a terrorist that has been killed by the South African police and we had to coin a Siswati word for ‘terrorist’. Think about it, we didn’t have a ‘terrorist’ designation in Siswati but we had to come up with such words to make verbatim translations of Afrikaans bulletins to our home languages. Those were interesting and challenging times”, the old man remembered.

During those times, Malindzisa continued learning until he obtained his PhD.

After his retirement from the SABC he was roped in by the wRite associates to adjudicate both Siswati and Afrikaans in the South African Literary Awards (SALA).

The wRite associates’ Managing Director and SALA founding Director, Mr. Raks Morakabe remembers “Dr Malindzisa as a prolific writer of more than fifteen Siswati titles, an elder who added much value to the organization through his wisdom, maturity and generosity of spirit. He will be missed for his talent, his wit, his love for South African literature and his family. Malindzisa served both the Swati community in Eswatini through membership to crossborder literary organisations and South African at large through the tons of books he produced and were consumed in schools. It’s hoped his passing will reignite a new love for Siswati literature among the youth and an interest in translating some of his works to increase their reach.

As a literary family we remain indebted to his giving spirit. Due to ill health he was not involved with the awards in 2019 and 2020.

During the adjudication session in September 2020 it was decided by the SALA Board to award Dr Malindzisa a Lifetime Achievement Literary Award for his contribution to South African literature over more than forty years of service. His untimely death overtook the Awards giving ceremony which will be held on 7th November 2020, the International African Writers Day, as declared by the African Union in 1991and we look forward to bestowing this award to this true son of the soil – a luminary a million times over. He is deserving of this award which we hoped to hand over to our beloved literary giant. This will take place after Dr Malindzisa might be gone to join that large literary community in the higher abode but we remain humbled by his service to this community below. And like the rest of the literary community we say, ‘May He Find Eternal Peace’.

SALA, with the permission of the family, will organize a memorial service for this son of the soil. A date will be announced in due course.

Issued by:    writeassociates