Achmat Dangor, an award winning novelist and poet,  was born in Newclare, Johannesburg, Transvaal (now known as Gauteng), South Africa in 1948. He lived with his grandmother in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, where he grew up. He completed his secondary education at the Fordsburg Indian High School.

He joined the Labour Party Youth, a group of radical young people who were opposed to the sectarian politics of the Coloured Labour Party. Dangor, together with other radical youth such as Farouk Asvat and Chris van Wyk, joined “Black Thoughts” a cultural group, formed in 1979, under the leadership of writer and poet, Don Mattera. This group performed at community functions and schools, reading poetry and performing plays. 

He was active in several writers’ bodies advocating the end of segregation such as Black Thoughts, the Writers’ Forum and the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW), of which he was a co-founding member. 

Dangor was banned by the South African government from 1973 to 1978 for his political activities.  

Since the end of the apartheid, Dangor has worked for several development agencies and authorities assisting victims of apartheid such as the Kagiso Trust and the Nelson Mandela’s Children Trust. He was approached by the late former President Nelson Mandela to join the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He served as the CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation, from 2007 to 2013, extending Mandela’s vision and legacy through the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and its focus on dialogues for justice. 

He served as the representative of the Ford Foundation in Southern Africa 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.

As founding executive director of Kagiso Trust, he worked alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other political and church leaders to establish the largest black-led foundation in South Africa.

He also taught creative writing and South Afrcian literature at New York State University, New York, United States of America.

Achmat Dangor passed away on 6 September 2020 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa. 

Publications:   

Poetry: 

  • Bulldozer (1983)
  • Private Voices (1992)

Novels:

  • Waiting for Leila (1981)
  • The Z Town Trilogy (1990)
  •  Kafka's Curse (1997)
  • Bitter Fruit (2003)
  • Strange Pilgrimages (2013)

Awards

  • Booker Prize, Book Trust (England), 2004, for Bitter Fruit
  • International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award – 2003
  • Herman Charles Bosman Prize (South Africa) – 1997
  • Mofolo Plomer Prize (South Africa) - 1981
References
Further reading list

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