Remembering: Sello Duiker

Kabelo "Sello" Duiker 
(13 April 1974 – 19 January 2005)

Very few people leave an indelible mark on society that remains long after their flesh has left this world. It is even more poignant when that mark is a personal one. I met Sello and my life was never the same. 

When I met Sello I had no idea who he was. All I knew was that he worked at Backstage. That was just after the once popular soapie had just moved to Jo-burg from Capetown. I was a student at FUBA then and thought I wanted to be an actor. 

My encounter with Sello sparked an interest in writing. He actually asked me to send in some test scripts to the show which led to my meeting Trudi Taljaard who was a script coach on the show at the time. That led to the Khomanani Campaign where I freelanced as a scriptwriter.

To say that Sello had an impact in my life would be an understatement. He was an intelligent guy and I would gladly admit that I was a bit intimidated by him. But there was a sense of warmth about him that transcended his somewhat awkward nature at times. 

Being at FUBA during those times, I was familiar with strange characters. It was a performing arts institution so to some extend awkwardness was encourage. You were actually considered strange if you were too normal. 

Unfortunately, Sello died in 2005. Strangely enough I hadn't read any of his books when that happened even though at the time I already knew that he was an authour. I just figured he was just a bit weird so reading his book might have just been indulging his weirdness so I took a pass.

Little did I know that I had been blessed to have known a genius. I only got to read The Quiet Violence Of Dreams around 07 and wow what a reviting book it is. The only other book I had read by a black authour at the time was MARU by Bessie Head, only because it was part of my matric syllabus.

Siphiwo Mahala wrote of this genius earlier this year; 
Duiker was not a good black writer, he was just a great writer. 
Siphiwo could not have picked a more appropriate honour to bestow on Sello than that. Reading The Quiet Violence Of Dreams literally took me outside of my comfort zone and urged me to examine the thoughts about race and sexuality that have been indoctrinated into my mind by the society I grew up in.

The book challenges you to look within yourself and face the prejudice and self-loathing that we harbour and hide everyday. The story arrests you into the fluctuating emotional journey that the characters take. 

By the time you put the book down after every chapter you are just as emotionally drained as the characters are. You can not escape it as the characters are authentic with their profanities and all.

Since reading The Quiet Violence Of Dreams, an appreciation and love of African literature was ignited. Through Sello's indirect encouragement by writing such a brilliant book I have had the pleasure of exploring works of other South African authors such as Phaswane Mpe, Zakes Mda and Fred Khumalo.

I now take pride in going into a book store and buying a South African book not because of some faux patriotism but because they are just as good as any best seller in the world. I now revel in the pleasure that I met a genius who shaped history with words ... and I did not even know it until he was no more. 
Heroes and heroines generally get praise and acknowledgement long after they have passed on, but K Sello Duiker was that rarity - an artist whose literary prowess hit us in our collective face with such vehemence that we couldn't help but sing his praises while he was still alive.
- Fred Khumalo, Sunday Times

I am who I am today because of a guy that I just wrote off as "strange". 

Kabelo "Sello" Duiker, (April 13, 1974 – January 19, 2005), was a South African novelist. His debut novel, Thirteen Cents, won the 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize for best first book written by an African writer. He also worked in advertising and as a screenwriter, at the time of his death he was working as an editor of drama for SABC1. 
Duiker, the eldest of three brothers,was born in Orlando, Soweto at the height of apartheid. Coming from a moderately wealthy family he was sent to a public school, where he was one of the very few black pupils. 
During his school-years the schools in South Africa were very much at the centre of the anti-apartheid movement. This personal experience of the social-struggles influenced Duiker greatly, his novels treated racial difference as largely immaterial, being basically cosmetic. 
Duiker received a degree in journalism from Rhodes University, he also briefly studied at the University of Cape Town. He suffered a nervous breakdown in 2004 prior to committing suicide by hanging himself in Northcliff, Johannesburg, in January 2005
Read A Tribute BY Sam Radihlalo HERE


Anonymous said...

Kwaaaa Phil. I knew you were not gonna just let that fly. Wa go phaphela buddy. That's like someone coming to to your house and telling you that your furniture is unacceptable. Ke tello fela. Good reply Phil.

Anonymous said...

Lol Love u Phil

Anonymous said...

Zabambo you and your buddy need to find yourselves a new blog if you are not happy with this one.....I also didnt like the tone of the first Zabambo should also refer to Phil's are you to tell him what to do, What did you you have a blog?

Anonymous said...

Eish...Le nna I made a mistake, meant to say: who are you tell him what to do? You see that Zabambo? everyone can make that Phil said he always gets back to them whe he has time:)

Anonymous said...

At least you read it before deleting it. So you got the message.

PhilMphela said...

Yes I did and just to reaffirm my point again: I DELETED IT! Now get off my case and leave me be with my mediocre blog and cocky attitude.

Anonymous said...

Umfowethu, take a chill pill.
An article filled with typos is mediocre and is not a true representation of the unmistakeable talent that you have. I simply asked you to take time to edit articles before posting them. This is not the first time i have seen a great article desecrated with typos on this blog. I wonder why you are getting your knickers in knots?
As long as this blog remains open to the public, i retain the right to comment and bear in mind,my comments would not always be to your taste and designed to massage your ego.
Simply accept a constructive criticism as it is and stop throwing your toys out of the pram.
Have a happy new year!!

PhilMphela said...

If you think that catty comment you sent me was a constructive criticism then you really should do some introspection before accusing me of throwing my toys.. Anyway I was over this 20 minutes after your first comment yet you still persist to call me names and send vile comments hence my comment that leave me be and stop reading this blog if it bothers you that much.

I don't mind the criticism. It's manner with which you keep doing that I have an issue with. If you insult me then I am gonna delete the comment.

Anyway I'm over this and trying to enjoy my free time. Happy New Year to you too.

Powered by Blogger.