Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature

Maishe Maponya donates plays to Unisa

Maishe Maponya donates plays to Unisa

Maishe Maponya, one of South Africa’s foremost playwrights and activists is donating his private writings, programmes and posters to the Unisa Library Archive. The collection consists of three decades of work and makes a contribution to an important part of the history of South African Theatre. Mr Maponya was in the 1980s an anti-apartheid activist and produced plays that promoted protest and resistance to the dehumanisation of black South Africans during those years. Today, in a democratic South Africa, Mr Maponya is still making his voice heard against all forms of injustices and corruption.

At a special event to be held at the Unisa Library Archives on 14 June 2018, Mr Maponya will officially hand over his collection to the Unisa Library Archives.

This initiative is part of the broader South African Drama and Theatre Heritage Project housed in the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature at Unisa. One of the main aims of the project is to assist or mediate in the preservation of our Performing Arts heritage. Many valuable material and collections are lost when playwrights or theatre practitioners retire or even die. By preserving these documents we also hope to assist with scholarship in the Performing Arts, since the intention is also to make the material available to researchers and other interested parties. There exist many “gaps” in our theatrical heritage and we thus also make certain interventions where necessary to address these injustices (e.g. by documenting the work of community theatre projects or previously silenced practitioners). We are thus proud to add Maishe Maponya’s contribution to the history of South African theatre to our collection. In 2016, the department also collaborated with the Mamelodi Theatre Organisation (MATO) to preserve their legacy. MATO has been running community programmes in Mamelodi for more than 30 years. The original members of the group have also toured extensively internationally, including giving performances at the famous Edinburgh Arts Festival. The MATO collection is now available at the Unisa Library Archive to interested researchers and theatre practitioners.

Mr Maponya signed the donation agreement in 2017, where he also gave permission for his plays to be digitised (the copyright remains with Mr Maponya). This will make his work available to a wide range of national and international scholars for research purposes. Unisa is grateful to Mr Maponya for participating  so enthusiastically with this project. In the past year Prof Marisa Keuris and Mr Andile Xaba have documented his work (inter alia through a number of interviews) and assembled the collection that will now be presented to the Unisa Library Archive on 14 June 2018 for future preservation.

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