Praise for writer killed after crashing into bridge

THE family of Limpopo author Monyamane Shai is in shock after his recent death in a car accident.

Shai, author of more than 40 books, died after his car overturned at the Strydom Tunnel outside Hoedspruit on Monday while he was travelling with four colleagues.

The family said they were struggling to accept that he would never complete the books he was busy writing.

Isaac, Shai's elder brother, said the family had lost a "champion of writing" who worked tirelessly to ensure that the wisdom of those who could not write would be passed on to future generations.

"My brother was a good storyteller who strove to ensure that African languages were used to tell stories of African people," Isaac said.

The writer was driving a bakkie when it overturned and hit the bridge.

Shai, 40, wrote Malebese and many other compilations prescribed for schools.

He also lectured at the University of Venda's department of African languages.

Isaac said the passing of Shai was a blow to the development of the Sesotho language because "he died while on a mission to recruit young writers".

Shai wrote poetry, short stories and novels that were extensively used at schools and universities.

Mokgale Makgopa, who had worked as a professor with Shai at the university before resigning in 2008, said the profession had lost a prolific writer whose works covered the journey of South Africa's democracy - as well as community expectations from the government.

"Shai was a young and prolific writer who managed in all genres to addresscontemporary issues.

"He also strove to tell the stories of people's expectations," said Makgopa.

Shai also contributed to the Sowetan on the challenges facing African languages.

Funeral arrangements are still being finalised.

Limpopo MEC for sports, arts and culture Joyce Mashamba yesterday sent her and her government'scondolences to the bereaved Shai family.