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Poet Laureate Of South Africa Dies
Published September 21, 2006

Mazisi Kunene, the first poet laureate of post-apartheid South Africa, died on August 11 in Durban, South Africa, after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.

Mazisi Kunene, the first poet laureate of post-apartheid South Africa, died on August 11 in Durban, South Africa, after a long battle with cancer. He was 76.

Known for works that recorded and celebrated the history of the Zulu nation, Kunene wrote such books as Zulu Poems (1970), Emperor Shaka The Great (1979), Anthem Of The Decades (1981) and more recently Umzwililili Wama-Afrika (1996).

Kunene played a leading role in the anti-apartheid movement while living in exile, using his writing as a platform for his political and social views, and serving as the chief representative in Europe and African for the Africa National Congress. He also played a pivotal role in launching the anti-apartheid in Britain. While living abroad, he taught at a number of universities around the world before he landed in Los Angeles for a two-decade stint at University Of California, Los Angeles, retiring in 1992. He returned to South Africa in 1993 and became the country's poet laureate in 2005.

He is survived by his wife, Mathabo, as well as a daughter and three sons.