Achmat Dangor

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Achmat Dangor. (1948-2020) Novelist, playwright and poet.


Dangor was born in Johannesburg in 1948 and lived with his grandmother in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, where he grew up. He completed his secondary education at the Fordsburg Indian High School and studied literature at Rhodes University, Grahamstown.

He joined the Labour Party Youth, a group of radical young people who were opposed to the sectarian politics of the Coloured Labour Party. He then joined Black Thoughts, a cultural group, formed in 1979, under the leadership of writer and poet, Don Mattera, to perform at community functions and schools, reading poetry and performing plays. His membership of Black Thoughts led to his banning for six years (1973-1978).

He was also one of the founding members of the Congress of South African Writers.

He subsequently taught creative writing at City University in New York, before returning to South Africa, where he worked for Kagiso Trust and the Independent Development Trust. He later headed up various non-governmental organisations in South Africa, including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and was the Southern Africa Representative for the Ford Foundation from 2013-2015, overseeing all grant making in the region from its office in Johannesburg. He has served as director of advocacy, communications and leadership at the United Nations Aids (UNAIDS) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Achmat Dangor passed away on the 6 September 2020.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

His creative writing includes poetry (published in the journals Wietie and Staffrider, anthologised in A Century of South African Poetry in 1981 and published in the collection Bulldozer in 1983). He also wrote the novel Bitter Fruit and one play, Majiet.

Awards, etc

Winner of the Mofolo-Plomer Prize for the short story Waiting for Leila (1981).

Awarded the Herman Charles Bosman Prize (1997)

Received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2003)

His novel Bitter Fruitwas shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2004.

In 2015 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Literary Awards (SALA).


NELM catalogue.

Beeld, 6 August 2000.

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