Don Mattera Wields A Pen Of Caution
Bra Don, as Mattera is affectionately known was in town over the weekend, here in sunny Mpumalanga. Poet Ezrom Maromo wa Sekgobela went along for the ride of a lifetime. And here is his story;

If there is one person in South African worthy of the title ‘literary genius’, then Don Mattera should ascend the pedestal with ease. From Sophiatown, his pen defied adversity, incarceration and injustice to still be celebrated in the democratic order. Mattera has a compelling aura around him; his veins bloated with visible anger to the knowledge of a people suffering in silence, a dream deferred, dreams pulverized. He speaks of liberators with chubby cheeks conveniently forgotten about the revolutionary covenant entered into with the people.

I met him recently at Exclusive Books, Nelspruit during the in-store signing ceremony of his compelling anthology: Azanian Love songs. Initially published in 1983, the book resonates relevance as if penned yesterday, an assertion that not much has changed since.
Excuses advanced of a ‘nascent democracy’, while a few enjoy self-aggrandizement crusades at the expense of the populace.

With sheer excellence Mattera weaves wickers of words to describe an epoch that still lives in the shadow of its ghastly past. In the poem: They think us happy, one might think it's déjà vu or we’ve been silently whiskered into the old order.

Mattera writes: “They think us happy, because we hide our anguish in song, stamp our shackled feet until red drips from the cracks. They smile and we smile, we only smile because they smile and they think us happy. Let us remove our masks of artificial merriment, reveal the wrinkles of our quiet anger, wash the clay from our bodies and let them see the scars. Perhaps they know, perhaps not, but dammit they must be told, we have had enough”.

The veteran scribe also pens about the nostalgia of the transcended, who still pine to see the freedom they dearly sacrificed for. “Remember to call my grave when freedom finally walks the land, then I may rise to tread familiar paths…do not run away for fright if I crumble to dust again, it will only be the bliss of a long awaited dream, that bids me rest, when freedom finally walks the land”.

Mattera’s poetry is not a call for a bloody revolution, but rather a revelation to the compelling truths around us. The question is; do we choose to let sleeping dogs lie, or do we give them a rude and rumpus awakening? It’s demo-cracy anyway (“demonstration-of-craze), as eruditely captured by the late Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Ezrom Maromo wa Sekgobela is a published poet-author of Traces of My Thoughts, a poetry collection. He resides in
Nelspruit. If you want to contact him about any literary event or to purchase his book he can be reached at 082 394 7059 or ez@ananzi.co.za

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