The death of prolific Sesotho author, Dr Kgotso Maphalla, has been described as a colossal loss in the literary fraternity. Most of his works have been prescribed for schools and tertiary institutions.

Maphalla won his first major literary prize in 1980, in the Sesotho poetry competition of the Radio Bantu Sesotho Service, now known as Lesedi FM.

The 66-year-old author passed away after suffering a stroke.

Affectionately known as “KPD”, the multi-award-winning author published more than 70 Sesotho literary works. Dr Kgotso Maphalla also wrote several radio dramas.

The selfless veteran mentored many budding authors. Several of his works have also been analysed for dissertations and doctoral studies.

Sesotho Literature Museum Assistant Director, Tseliso Masolane says they will continue to preserve and develop Sesotho in his honour.

“Ntate Maphalla was an all-rounded person. Even if you look at all his writings, there will always be an element of religion. He would never just write lyrics or maybe write empty lines. It would always resonate revolution, always make sure Basotho know where they come from and ensure that they keep up with that.”

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has described Maphalla as a custodian of Sesotho.

PanSALB, Nikiwe Matebula, says Maphalla always produced quality work.

“As the PanSALB, we always like to instill pride in home languages because that is our main mandate, to ensure that we promote all languages of South Africa. So, that was the most fascinating fact when it came to his writings, that he fights for the language. He writes very good quality novels. His literary work is of quality. That’s what really fascinates us about his work.”

Prolific Sesotho author’s death described as a ‘colossal loss’

A teacher by profession, Maphalla’s illustrious career started more than 40 years ago.

Publisher and author, Pule Lechesa wrote a book about Maphalla’s life called the ”The literacy legacy of Dr KDP Maphalla”.

Lechesa says KDP will be remembered for his steadfast passion for Sesotho and writing.

“He has also taught us that as writers we must always be united as he used to say ‘bangodi ke metjodi’ – meaning the writers are like shepherds. They must work together because if anything happens to them the sheep will scatter around. He taught us that as writers we should always advocate for unity.”

Maphalla was bestowed with several lifetime achiever awards. His plethora of awards and accolades include the MNET Award and the Chairperson’s Award by the South African Literary Awards. He was also bestowed an honorary doctorate from the University of the Free State in 2007.

University of the Free State’s Dr Nyefolo Malete, says Maphalla was trying to depict the life of an ordinary black person oppressed by Apartheid.”

“As a political activist through his writing, we realised in so many books that he was trying to depict the life of an ordinary black person who was oppressed by the previous regime.”

A relative says Maphalla was the face of the family. Spokesperson, Lefu Maphalla says his passing is a great loss.

“He was the most recognisable face of the Maphalla family and even because of him, we happened to know each other. So, he was this shining star amongst us and not only that, and even to the community that he lived amongst he was always surrounded by people because he was also a community builder.”

The family is yet to finalise memorial and funeral arrangements.