October 26th in African American History – Benedict Wallet Vilakazi

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi

October 26, 1947 Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, poet, novelist and educator, died.

Vilakazi was born Bambatha kaMshini Vilakazi on January 6, 1906 near KwaDukuza, Natal (now South Africa). At the age of ten, he was baptized and given the name Benedict Wallet. He earned his teaching certificate in 1923 and taught at several schools.

He published his first novel, “Nje nempela” (“Really and Truly”), in 1933. It was one of the first works of Zulu fiction to treat modern subject matter. Vilakazi earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Africa in 1934 and began teaching at the University of Witwatersrand in 1936. He was the first Black South African to teach white South Africans at the university level. In 1946, he earned his Ph.D. in literature from Witwatersrand for a dissertation on Zulu poetry, making him the first black South African to earn a doctorial degree.


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