Durban Living Legend – Mandla Langa

Mandla Langa was born in Stanger (now known as KwaDukuza) in 1950, and grew up at KwaMashu. After his arrest for political activism and spending 101 days in prison, he went into exile, first to Botswana in 1976, then to Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Hungary and the UK. He is the well-known author of five books, The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2008), The Memory of Stones (2000), The Naked Song and Other Stories (1997), A Rainbow on a Paper Sky (1989), and Tenderness of Blood (1987). Highlights of his career include his musical Milestones, staged at the State Theatre in Pretoria in 1990 and his election in 1995 as Vice-Chairperson of the Africa 95 Exhibition in London.

He studied for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Fort Hare. In 1980 he won the Drum story contest for ‘The Dead Men Who Lost Their Bones’ and in 1991 he was awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain Bursary for creative writing, the first for a South African.

In 1974, he became actively involved as a director of the South African Students’ Organization (SASO), maintaining this position until his arrest in 1976 for attempting to leave the country without a permit. As a result he served 101 days in jail. He went into exile, first in Botswana in 1976. He then lived in Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Hungary and the UK during apartheid era.

Langa is well-renowned author, he has published five books, ‘Tenderness of Blood’ (Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1987),’A Rainbow on a Paper Sky’ (Kliptown Books, London, 1989), ‘The Naked Song and Other Stories’ (David Philip Publishers, Cape Town, 1997); ‘The Memory of Stones’ (DPP, 2000) and ‘The Lost Colours of the Chameleon’ (Picador, Africa, October 2008).

Langa worked on various committees in South Africa, including the boards of Business and Arts South Africa, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, the Rhodes University School for Economic Journalism and MultiChoice South Africa Holdings. A 2003 convention of the Pan African Writers’ Association featured him in its ‘Evening with Mandla Langa’. He received the South African government’s National Order of Ikhamanga in silver in 2007 for literary, journalistic and cultural achievements. In 2009, he received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book: Africa Region.

Photo courtesy: BooksLive

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