Lily Moya/Mabel Palmer/Sibusisiwe Makhanya
In 1949, Lily Moya, a young African scholar, started a correspondence with Mabel Palmer, a well-known educator and activist. This correspondence was later published as Not Either an Experimental Doll (1987), edited by Shula Marks. Moya began by requesting help with her education – ‘Mine is a very sad case’ – to which Palmer agreed, funding her schooling at Adams College. The letters show that Lily was also hoping for a mentor and a friend, roles Dr. Palmer was unwilling to fill. The letters between the two grew increasingly agitated as Lily accused Dr. Palmer of neglecting her and Dr. Palmer withdrew her assistance, calling in social worker Sibusisiwe (Violet) Makhanya from Umbumbulu to intervene.
Prithiraj ‘Pritz’ Dullay (1946 - ) was born in Port Shepstone. Dullay’s early experiences with racial discrimination and apartheid resulted in him choosing an uncompromising path of confrontation with the government. His early exposure to the writings of Gandhi mapped out the paths he would follow in life. He became a student leader at Springfield College and his exposure to leaders such as Steve Biko, Strini Moodley and Dr Rick Turner shaped his political consciousness. He was later granted political exile in Denmark in 1978, remaining there for fourteen years. He returned to South Africa with his family in 1992, joining the Durban University of Technology. Dullay’s book Salt Water Runs in My Veins was launched in 2010.
Daphne Rooke (1914 - 2009) was born in the Transvaal, of an English father and Afrikaans mother who was a writer and ‘marvelous storyteller’. Rooke grew up in Durban where she attended Durban Girls' High School. She later moved to Zululand, where A Grove of Fever Trees was set. During the 1930s, she worked as a journalist, marrying an Australian, Irvin Rooke, and moving to Australia. There she wrote Mittee (1951), her international bestseller. A Grove of Fever Trees appeared in 1951, followed by a series of striking novels on turbulent South African themes. Ratoons, set in the South Coast sugarcane fields, was reissued in 1990 by Chameleon Press. In 1997 Rooke received a honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She died in England.
Mazisi Kunene (1930 - 2006) was an epic poet who lived in Durban. He studied at the University of Natal, and won the Bantu Literary Competition Award in 1956. He left South Africa in 1959, taught in Lesotho, and later became Professor of African Literature and Language at the University of California in Los Angeles. For Zulu Poems (1970) Kunene collected and translated into English his early poems which reflect his social and cultural inheritance. Emperor Shaka the Great (1979), inspired by the rise of the Zulu empire, was followed by Anthem of the Decades (1981), a Zulu epic dedicated to the women of Africa. His reputation was further enhanced by the collection The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain (1982).
Michael Cawood Green (1954 - ) was born in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal. He studied for his Masters degree at Stanford, California, and at the University of York for his doctorate. In South Africa, his academic career brought him to the University of Natal in Durban. In 1997 Penguin published his historical fiction, Sinking: A Verse Novella. In 1999, Green spent a year in London as a Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Here he began a novel based on the Trappist monks who came to South Africa in 1878 and founded Mariannhill Monastery, together with other mission stations. This novel, For the Sake of Silence (2008), won the Olive Schreiner Prize.
Victor Frank Stiebel (1907-1976) was born in Durban, attending Michaelhouse school in the Midlands. He moved to Britain in 1924 to study at Cambridge and opened his own fashion house in 1932, where he had great success, designing for, amongst others, Princess Margaret. His autobiography captures his time in Natal from the age of four to seventeen, including memorable summer holidays at Isipingo in the early 1900s.
Es'kia Mphahlele (1919 - 2008) was a writer and academic. He was born in Marabastad, Pretoria, but educated at Adams College. He was fiction editor of Drum magazine in the mid-1950s but left South Africa for Nigeria in 1957, spending the next 20 years in exile. Author of the memoir Down Second Avenue (1959), Mphahlele was awarded the Order of the Southern Cross for services to literature in 1998 by President Nelson Mandela.
Voorslag (Roy Campbell, William Plomer and Laurens van der Post), meaning ‘whiplash’, was a literary journal published in Durban (but largely written in Sezela) in 1926 and 1927. It was founded and edited by Roy Campbell and William Plomer, with Laurens van der Post as the Afrikaans editor. The journal’s aim was, in Plomer’s words, ‘to sting with satire the mental hindquarters, so to speak, of the bovine citizenry of the Union [of South Africa]’.