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We have lost a legendary writer – Zuma

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President Jacob Zuma has extended deepest condolences on the death of highly regarded academic, poet, and author Professor Adam Small, who died at the age of 79 early on Saturday morning, reportedly following a “complicated operation”.

“We wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Small family, friends, and relatives. We have lost a legendary writer and valuable thought leader. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” Zuma said in a statement issued by the presidency on Sunday.

Earlier on Sunday, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa paid tribute to Small, saying his death was “a sad loss to our nation as we have lost a legend of our times”.

“Prof Adam Small has occupied a unique and inimitable place in South African literature, academia, and culture. At a time when the apartheid government sought to use Afrikaans as a tool of oppression, Prof Adam Small strove to decolonise the Afrikaans language.

“Through his poetry he asserted the language as a language of the people and as a language through which the oppressed could articulate their particular vantage point in the world and claim their freedom.

“In this way he gave voice to a sense of cultural belonging in an idiom rooted in the way people lived and interpreted their lives. His body of work spoke in the cadences and the rhythms of the people and he extended the cultural imaginary of South African literature.

“Of Prof Small must be said what Sekou Toure wrote, when he observed that ‘To take part in the African revolution it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people’.

“We salute Prof Small for his exceptional contribution. New generations must pick up the baton from where he has left it. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family, his friends, and all who knew him,” Mthethwa said.

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