Tributes continue to pour in for doyen of the arts Ntate Walter Chakela

Playwright, poet and theatrical director Walter Chakela.
Playwright, poet and theatrical director Walter Chakela.
Image: Supplied

Condolences continue to pour in for  fallen arts, culture and theatre legend Walter Chakela,  who died on Friday night. 

Born in 1953 in Vryburg,  North West, Chakela has not been well  since he suffered  a stroke in 2017. He will be buried on May 30,  and a memorial service in his honour will  be convened and broadcast through virtual streaming this week.

National sector leader for languages and publishing under Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), ​Nthabiseng Jafta, said: “CCIFSA would like to send its warmest condolences to his  family and literary spheres in the country. His passing comes at a time when the activism spirit of our veteran Ntate Chakela is much needed. His strive to liberate the arts and the African child's talent and voice remains cherished. We will carry the baton even in these times of Covid-19 struggles facing the arts  community and  the world.”

Trumpeter and respected local musician Prince Lengoasa said about Chakela: “I have lost a friend, a brother, a mentor and a father. Bra Walter gave me a break in writing and composing for theatre. He introduced me to many African intellectuals and gave me a voice as a composer and a stage on which my melodies (which were largely inspired by his prose and texts) would be heard.

I travelled with him to Norway and Atlanta (US) and we were (supposed) to return to Atlanta in 2021. The last conversation I had with him was to say 'happy birthday'. Goodbye Bra Walter. O dumeditse Bra Willy ke raa le ene Rre Mphahlele, le Matsiks ebong Rre Manaka ga mmogo le Ingwapele Madingoana. Tsamaya ka kagiso Mongwame. Modimo le badimo ba go amogele.!! Mayibuye iAfrika.” 

Globe-trotter Vusi Mahlasela said Chakela contributed a lot to where he is today: “My deepest condolences to all the family and friends to the entire writer’s family. Ntate Chakela mentored and supported me whenever I needed help from him. He contributed some of his poems that I put into songs in my music. Music albums released with his poems and received SAMA Awards. He wrote a poem and dedicated it to the late Dennis Brutus titled Troubadour Ntante Mohapi. He came and introduced me to the full audience at Lyric Theatre in Joburg  when I was launching my album - celebrating 20 years of my career.”

Director of arts and culture at the Gauteng department of sports, arts, culture and  recreation Shane Maja said: “The creative community of theatre and drama subsectors in Gauteng has lost a remarkable mentor, writer and arts administrator. On behalf of the Gauteng department, we remain indebted to the contribution made by Ntate Chakela for enriching the artistic landscape of Gauteng with his talent and nurturing skills.  

It was through his humility that he honoured us with his presence at the 2019 Gauteng Ishashalazi Theatre Awards (GITA) when we conferred him A Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication and contribution to the development of arts and culture. As policy-makers and public servants, we commit to honour the rich legacy of an eminent writer, poet, arts administrator and dramatist.”

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