Inspiring figure

Posted: August 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
From Left: MJ Seakamela (Author of Ke namane ya Morgao), HS Ramaila, & Rural in the Citi Movement

From Left: MJ Seakamela (Author of Ke namane ya Morgao), HS Ramaila, & Rural in the Citi Movement

Many of us may wonder if we have made a difference in this life. But not Ntate Segome Henry Ramaila. Or at least he shouldn’t wonder. The modest Sepedi author and teacher for most of his 90 years would be the last to brag about his accomplishments.

He may not be a household name but award-winning writer, HS Ramaila has long been held in high esteem by academics, critics and readers of indigenous literature. His first book Peolane – The Swallow, written in Sepedi first created waves in 1975 when it was awarded the first prize of R50 in literary competition sponsored by the Non-European library in Pretoria to encourage African children’s literature.

Although it remains relatively obscure due to lack of promotion and publicity, Peolane continues to be found on many shelves in children’s libraries. Ramaila has since featured in many other mother tongue literary competition which he often ended with the first prize. 

Meeting him in Mamelodi Township, Ntate Ramaila didn’t seem bothered that I knew so little about him. After some research about him that proved fruitless, I was left with no alternative but to meet him.

There was a time when books in the African languages were few, and yet few attempted bigger volumes to expose the fascination of life in South Africa. So the few we had were short and schools thought that it was difficult to write. When books began to increase, it was the attraction of competitions for writers that shook many into action,” he said.

Ramaila believes that lack of recognition could not discourage him. Despite his many awards and prestige, he remains humble and insists that his contribution to Sepedi literature is as a result of his duty as a senior citizen to preserve the culture and tradition for generations to come.

Over the years I have pursued writing to contribute to creating African literature without being preoccupied with winning a prize. For a very long time there was no active encouragement to get Africans to write down their history as they knew it and I consider it my responsibility as a senior citizen to preserve our heritage.

Henry Segome Ramaila remains an inspiring figure in African language literature. During this era of African Renaissance, when Africans are making earnest attempts to ensure the preservation of ancient African wisdom and to put it in modern context for development purposes, it is edifying to have writers such as Ntate Ramaila to help see through his exacting task 

  1. Tsie says:

    Likhomo tseo le manemane a tsona! Ke thaba ha ke ke utloa hore ho na le baholo ba etsang mosebetsi o kang oa ntate Ramaila,

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