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Oswald Mtshali (Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali) Biography

(1940– ), (Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali), Rand Daily Mail, Sounds of a Cowhide Drum, Fireflames

south collection africa soweto

South African poet, born in Vryheid, Natal, where he attended Inkamana High School. After working in various capacities, he became a columnist with the Rand Daily Mail and entered Columbia University, New York, in 1974. On his return to South Africa in 1980 he was appointed Deputy Headmaster of the Pace Commercial College, Jabulani, Soweto. Sounds of a Cowhide Drum (1971), his first collection of verse, was highly acclaimed for the understated force of its commentaries on conditions among the black communities. His best work combines documentary qualities with an innate lyricism conveyed by the sensitivity and precision of its imagery. A further collection entitled Fireflames (1980), which was banned in South Africa, contained more explicitly political material and poems drawing on his experiences of America. He is the editor of Give Us a Break (1988), a compilation of extracts from the diaries of Soweto schoolchildren.

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