Magula, The literary giant has fallen

Beauty Magula PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
Beauty Magula PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG

FRANCISTOWN: Renowned author and retired educationist, Beauty Magula succumbed to an undisclosed illness last Wednesday at the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, Mmegi has learnt.

Her only surviving son, Monde Magula confirmed her passing earlier this week. Describing her as a literary giant who had fallen, the son said his mother will be taken to her final resting place on Saturday.

A neighbour, whom the late Magula used to address as ‘daughter,’ also confirmed the passing on of the octogenerian who was a popular figure in the city.

Beatrice Mlilo is the late Magula’s special neighbour at the Area-L location, just a stones’ throw from the CBD. “I was her neighbour and she did not want to address me as a neighbour but rather as her daughter just because I was the same age as her late daughter, Nomsa,” said Mlilo this week.


Demonstrative of her commitment to her words, the 88-year-old Magula had directed Mlilo that upon her final departure, the neighbour should share the author’s life with throngs of people who would attend her funeral to pay their last respects. When Mlilo asked Magula as to what relationship she should present to the people, the ever-laughing Magula apparently said: “You tell them you are my daughter.”

Mlilo described the late mama as a caring person who was very helpful and gave her wise counsel on issues of life. The visibly distraught Mlilo said when she realised that Magula’s health was deteriorating, she called her granddaughter, Lyndah in Gaborone to take her to the capital so that she could be cared for closely. “Last week Wednesday, she was admitted at the Princess Marina Hospital where she succumbed to the illness.” Magula was born in Kwa-Centani, Eastern Cape and qualified as a teacher in her native country. She taught there for seven years before moving to Botswana where she lived and taught from that time. Her initial posting was at the Batawana National School in Maun. Information sourced from the family shows that the late author always wanted to write. When she was a child, she used to try to write stories and poems, and in 1953 she had a short story published in a children’s magazine.

But, ‘Mma-Tshenolo and the School Teacher’ was her first real success. She won a joint first prize in the national story contest in 1969 and arrangements were made for the story to be published. In 1975, one of her books, Lucky Worms won third prize in a short story competition organised by Drum magazine. Today, she has published many books.

Magula, an author and retired primary school teacher, first settled here in 1967 from Maun.  Magula had the opportunity of seeing institutions such as the Francistown College of Education and all the modern schools developed.

“It used to be easy for us to cross the road just anywhere, but today with huge traffic within town, it can be frustrating to some of us whose legs cannot move any faster,” Magula told Mmegi in a previous interview. Despite this glaring danger on growing motor traffic, Magula chose to walk from her Area-L house to anywhere in town to buy her needs.

She was a fitness fanatic who had chosen to walk everyday in an endeavour to prolong her life. She was also an avid reader and in fact, was a walking encyclopaedia on information about the city of Francistown. She has contributed immensely to the national education system by teaching at both government and private institutions.

To her credit, she managed to even outsmart herself by teaching Setswana at John Mackenzie School  despite the fact that her mother tongue was IsiXhosa. She also conducted classes for non-Setswana speaking groups of expatriates working in Botswana.

She did not only contribute to the country’s education system by teaching pupils but also spent her energy and time writing children’s poems and short stories in the vernacular and English.

Magula deservingly was rewarded for her literary work in 2008 when she received a Presidential Certificate of Honour in 2008 during the Independence celebrations. This year during the 50th anniversary of Independence, she was rewarded with another certificate recognising her national contribution as a teacher-cum author. Besides her teaching background, she was also armed with a creative writing certificate from the Regent Institute from Cape Town.

A son, nine grand children and three great grand children survive Magula. May her soul rest in peace.

Editor's Comment
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