Mourners pay last respects to iconic poet Mattera

'His talent for writing came from my father's side'

18 July 2022 - 22:56
By Patience Bambalele
Iconic poet and activist Don Mattera was buried on Monday evening.
Image: Antonio Muchave Iconic poet and activist Don Mattera was buried on Monday evening.

The long queue of cars just as you approach Ramaite Street in Protea North, Soweto, on Monday night was an indication that a giant had fallen.

Young and old stood in front of iconic poet Don Mattera's house in numbers as they waited for his coffin to to be carried out for his burial in Westpark Cemetery. 

Mattera died on Monday. As the coffin passed, PAC comrades shouted, “One Azania, one nation, iAfrica (Africa, our land)” and saluted.

Mourners included community members, activists, the Muslim community, friends in the journalism industry and minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa.

Mattera's sister Genelina said growing up around the veteran poet was magical. 

“He is the one who raised me and played a father's role. He used to spoil us, buying everything and never spanked us.

“Don uplifted a lot of journalists and made an impact on many people's lives. And there will never be a leader like him. He is my older brother and played dad.

“His talent for writing came from my father's side – our people are poets in Italy. [He was] a leader and hero and a powerful man,” she said.

Poet Ntsiki Mazwai, who was mentored by Mattera, broke down as the hearse drove away. 

Mazwai said: “I am sad but I have to understand death is part of life. He has  passed the baton to us younger poets. Now I must use my voice of conscience to uplift the youth.

“I got my first public performance performing alongside him... All these years he has taken care of me and mentored me.”