Tshivenda language legendary author Essien Itani Madima has died aged 92.
Madima's daughter Khathutshelo Madima said he died of natural causes at his home in Vhufulwi, Limpopo, on Thursday - Heritage Day.
Madima's first book Asi ene was published in 1955 and is still prescribed at schools today.
He has published novels, poetry anthologies and drama books.
Madima fought for the development of Tshivenda amongst writers and academics and never hesitated to call for correction when he heard people making mistakes in the language.
A teacher, and later a principal, he was described as "an author of all seasons" who wrote for the preservation of the language as its best storyteller.
"He has completed his journey. He has done all he could to preserve his language and culture," said Khathutshelo.
Among other awards, Madima received the Pan South African Language Board's legendary award. Tshivenda National Language Board chairperson Richard Madadzhe said Madima's death is a loss to the nation.
"His departure leaves a big gap. It will be difficult to find an author like Madima who wrote for the love of writing and was not influenced by money but for the development of the language," he said.
Madadzhe described Madima as a William Shakespeare whose writing remains consumable for generation after generation.
"Though he has passed on, his writing will remain forever. He is incomparable to other writers, he was unique," said Madadzhe.