Tribute to literary giant

Lusanda Zokufa

The arts and literary world has been dealt a devastating blow following the death of gentle giant Walter Chakela on 15 May.

  Tributes on social media came from wide and far as people praised the work that he did as an activist and curator in the arts.

  Born in Vryburg in the Eastern Cape, Chakela had a long working experience in the Transvaal Townships with Maishe Maponya and Matsemela Manaka. He was the first African director to be appointed at the Windybrow Theatre when it was still under the Performing Arts Council of Transvaal in 1993 till 2004.

  Chakela was an award-winning poet, playwright, and director. At the Windybrow Theatre he created a vibrant theatrical hub for intellectual dialogues and a space that offered opportunities for African people. His passion for advancing young people and commitment to the emancipation of African people was recognised when he was honoured by the Pan African Writers’ Association in Ghana in 2018.

  Together with Dr Keorapetse Kgosietsile, their mission to clad the Windybrow Theatre as the go to space for a Pan African artistic expression culminated in the producing of productions that included Anasi the Spider and Maru by Bessie Head and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe played to full houses at the theatre.

  Chakela wrote 22 plays and directed over 100 productions; he was also founding member of National Writers Association of South Africa (NWASA).

  Chakela will be missed and remembered for his motivational engagements which promoted critical thinking on issues of relevance and pan Africanism, as the son of the soil who was committed to the emancipation of African people in the arts and literary world.

  The Windybrow Arts Centre will host a virtual memorial service on 30 May at 14:00 across all Market Theatre Foundation social media platforms: Instagram @markettheatre; Facebook @TheMarketTheatre and @windybrowartscentre; Twitter: @markettheatre.

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