Prof Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane (Posthumous)
The Order of Ikhamanga in
Profile of Prof Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane (Posthumous)
Prof Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane was born in Port Elizabeth on 28 July 1948. He grew up in Soweto and the Brakpan-Springs area. His early education was in Soweto, and he later attended high school at St. Christopher’s in Swaziland, where distinguished writer and journalist Can Themba taught him. He later went on to obtain certificates and degrees in Comparative Literature, Education, English and Philosophy from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. He also obtained a doctorate (PhD) in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, England and proceeded to hold various academic positions in many countries and numerous board roles for organisations such as the United Nations.
While in exile Prof Mzamane used his literary skills to write socio-political articles and heritage short stories that sought to narrate to the world South Africa’s tragic apartheid experience. He organised mass campaigns against apartheid to ensure that the world is forever conscious of the suffering of the oppressed people of South Africa. He also trained and supported countless young South African freedom fighters.
In 1993 Prof Mzamane returned to South Africa. He became the first post-apartheid Vice Chancellor and Rector of the University of Fort Hare in 1994. He worked hard to align the university with the aspirations of the new democratic government.
Prof Mzamane was a consistent contributor to global debates on issues affecting Africans and the African diaspora generally. He considered himself a freedom fighter, a cultural activist, a political scientist and most of all, a teacher. Former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, and President Jacob Zuma appointed Prof Mzamane in various advisory roles over two decades. His wisdom was highly regarded. He also worked closely with African luminaries Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Nawal El Saawadi as co-chairs of BUWA African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century.
Prof Mzamane published extensively on African literature, heritage and education. His scholarly research and works of fiction have been translated into several languages including German, French, Russian and Dutch. At the time of his passing, Prof Mzamane was the project leader and editor of his self-initiated project, the Encyclopaedia of South African Arts, Culture and Heritage, which he called his last gift to South Africa.
All this can only serve to reinforce the fact that Prof Mzamane was an exceptional academic with vast social conscience