19 July 2013

Remembering Ingrid Jonker, one of SA’s literary greats!

Ingrid Jonker19 July marks nearly fifty years since the passing of Ingrid Jonker, one of South Africa's most talented poets who left an indelible mark on the literary fabric of the country.

Ingrid Jonker was described by Nelson Mandela at the opening of the first democratic parliament as ".. both a poet and a South African. She was both an Afrikaner and an African. She was both an artist and a human being. In the midst of despair, she celebrated hope. Confronted by death, she asserted the beauty of life."

The talented poet was 31 years old when she committed suicide by walking into the sea on 19 July 1965. She was apparently a very depressed being whom, ironically, found inspiration from the same depression for some of her works.

Ingrid was a passionate writer with a liberal mind - opposed to the censorship laws imposed by the National Party government. Her father on the other hand was a National Party member of parliament who chaired the committee on censorship laws. Needless to say, their relationship soured and Ingrid was subsequently disowned by her father.

She started writing poetry at the age of six and by the age of sixteen, she had already started corresponding with D.J Opperman, one of SA's great writers. Her work has been translated into many South African languages.

Ingrid Jonker is one of the great South Africans honoured in the Sunday Times Heritage Project which aimed at celebrating the extraordinary beings and historical events that shaped the South Africa we see today. Icons such as Brenda Fassie, Bessie Head and events like the Purple March are all commemorated in this project.

Visit Ingrid Jonker's memorial page - and see others
Also read ‘Great Lives: Pivotal Moments', a publication which tells the stories behind the Sunday Times Heritage Project memorials.