Today’s Google Doodle is marking Mazisi Kunene, a South African poet laureate and anti-apartheid activist, whose birthday is today, and he would have been 92.
The Doodle shows Mazisi Kunene in his work activity, for which he gained fame as a figure in the opposition to the Apartheid regime in South Africa, his home nation.
Mazisi’s work explores his nation’s culture, religion and history in the context of colonialism, apartheid and slavery.
Who is Mazisi Kunene?
Mazisi Kunene was a South African Poet Laureate and an anti-apartheid campaigner. He work covered the Zulu people’s culture, and his best known for his translation of the epic Zulu poem Emperor Shaka the Great.
He hails from Durban, the third largest city in South Africa where he was born on May 12, 1930. In Durban, in the eastern province, now called KwaZulu-Natal, and while growing up he loved writing short stories and poetry in Zulu. And by the age 11, he was writing in his local newspaper, sending in poetry and short stories. As he grew older, he became a strong advocate for the preservation of indigenous Zulu poetic traditions.
He graduated from the university of Natal, and his postgraduate thesis discussed the dilution of Zulu culture in Western literature.
Mazisi fled to the UK, when the South African government exiled him in 1959. By the time the apartheid began in South Africa he was in a position to use his work so far to oppose the regime.
During his exile, he published some of his greatest works, including ‘The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain’, ‘Anthem of the Decades’ and ‘Emperor Shaka the Great’. And his work was banned in South Africa.
He later moved to the USA and in 1975, the University of California in Los Angeles hired him as an African literature professor and he spent nearly two decades educating students there while working as an advisor to UNESCO .
After the apartheid ended he moved back to South Africa, where he resumed his writing in Zulu, and made Poet Laureate in 1993 by UNESCO.
Mazisi later died on August 11, 2006 in Durban.
Although, he is no more, his legacy lives on through his poetry, and the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, built in his name and nurturing Africa’s next generation of literary talent.
Is it not just refreshing when you get yourself onto the Google homepage and you sometimes find fun and colorful adaptations of the search engine’s logo?