Remembering Dr Benedict Wallet Vilakazi on his birthday: 4 quick facts

Remembering Dr Benedict Wallet Vilakazi on his birthday: 4 quick facts

On this day in 1906, one of the most inspiring men in South Africa's history was born - Dr Benedict Wallet Vilakazi.

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Monday, 6 January would have been the 114th birthday of Dr Benedict Wallet Vilakazi - Zulu poet, novelist, and educator who focused his entire career on the teaching and study of the Zulu language.

In honour of his birthday, took a look at four quick facts about his life and career.

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1. Early life

Vilakazi was born on 6 January, 1906 at the Groutville Mission Station. His birth name was Bambatha kaMshini and he was only baptised with the name "Benedict Wallet" at a coeducational Roman Catholic secondary school later on in life.

2. Christian parents

Both Vilakazi's mother and father were converted to Christianity which is why he was enrolled into a Roman Catholic school.

3. The start of an inspiring career

At the age of 27, in 1933, Vilakazi released his first novel, which was titled Nje nemplea - translated in English means 'Really and Truly' - which became one of the first works of Zulu fiction, Wikipedia reported.

4. Education

In 1934, a year after he published his first novel, Vilakazi earned his BA degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Knowledge is power and that was something Vilakazi knew, so he furthered his studies and obtained a Master's degree from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg in 1938.

Eight years later, Vilakazi became the first black South African to be awarded a PhD degree for his studies in literature at Wits.

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