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Renowned NC sangoma, author dies

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“He was an authentic elder with great humility but was not afraid to speak his mind when it came to expressing his views on culture, politics and his divinity''

Credo Mutwa. Picture: Facebook

CONDOLENCES have poured in following the death of “the country’s greatest Sangoma and indigenous philosopher”, Dr Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, at the age of 98, at his home in Magojaneng Village, Kuruman.

The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) said yesterday that it had learned with sadness of the passing of Mutwa.

“The NHC extends its condolences to his family, the culture and heritage sector practitioners for the loss of an archive. Mutwa was the Lifetime Achiever of the NHC’s Golden Shield Heritage Awards in 2016. He was honoured for his unprecedented contribution to African scholarship, literature, traditional medicine, prophecies, divinity and more which could all be collapsed into the term ‘Sanusi’, meaning a divine,” Sonwabile Mancotywa, chief executive officer of the National Heritage Council of South Africa, said yesterday.

“We are happy that he could see the preservation of his legacy through the construction of a museum in his village just opposite to his home. What we hope to learn from his works and carry with us into the future as part of our heritage are his teachings about the importance of Ubuntu. Most fundamentally to his contributions is his role in destigmatising African divinity and spirituality,” Mancotywa added.

Mancotywa pointed out that after receiving the Lifetime Achiever Award from the NHC in 2016, Mutwa did not accept to be interviewed and said that he would not like to be remembered for what he thought of himself but for what people thought of him.

“He was an authentic elder with great humility but was not afraid to speak his mind when it came to expressing his views on culture, politics and his divinity.

“He was one person who was able to elevate the richness of African civilization, that was deliberately obscured from history and literature by the world and apartheid government. In many ways, his scholarly knowledge was a point of reference for decolonising our heritage, culture and traditions as part of indigenous knowledge.”

The NHC further thanked him for his activism on preserving African culture. “Our appreciation also goes to his wife, Virginia, who took care of him during his last days.”

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul also expressed the provincial government’s sadness at the passing of Mutwa, referring to him as a “human treasure, an activist of note in fostering social cohesion, cultural diversity and the spirit of Ubuntu in our country’s diverse society”.

In a statement from the Office of the Premier, it was pointed out that like many of his peers who were affected by the socio-political impact and planning patterns of the apartheid regime, Mutwa sacrificed his time, leisure and family in the fight against apartheid.

“Ubaba Credo Mutwa played an indelible role in both the liberation and development of our country and to this we owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude. He leaves behind a proud legacy of steadfastness, resilience and selflessness and we are grateful for his exceptional and outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle.

“His legacy is engraved in the minds and societal fibre of our people through the enormous contribution he made to conscientise society to appreciate their Africanism. Baba Credo Mutwa was a well-renowned writer, storyteller, artist and iSanusi. He was also viewed as one of the custodians of African heritage, particularly South African heritage. He played a fundamental role in the preservation and transmission of cultural heritage.”

The premier stated that an application would be made to the president that Mutwa be accorded a provincial official funeral.

“At this hour of great loss, our thoughts are with his family and friends and all those who have been touched by his life.

“Our sincerest condolences to the Mutwa family.