Vale Phumlani Pikoli

It is with great sorrow that we acknowledge the tragic passing of South African writer and artist, Phumlani Pikoli. He was 33 years old.

Phumlani was introduced to us by our dear colleague Beth Vale. Phumlani was a gifted and prize winning writer who last year contributed to the Thesis Eleven Living and Thinking Crisis online project. His piece asked us to consider ‘what is a crisis?’. When crisis is normal, for so many on the planet, why the new fuss, when so many were already dying? This was writing like a cold shower on a colder day. Plain, direct, wonderful prose, but no sense of pity or blame. Just there, on your electronic doorstep, the news from beyond the disrupted screens of the west, or north.

As we read through my correspondence with Phumlani, whom we never met, he exudes optimism and a sense of humility which belied his considerable achievements. In our string of emails his sign-off is electronically repeated over and over and over, ‘Your time is sincerely appreciated’. It is us who should be thanking him for his time. We welcomed his time, and will miss his presence.

To read his piece for Thesis Eleven: ‘What is a Crisis?’ To read an extract ‘Seasons Change’ from his collection of short stories The Fatuous State of Severity (link to Johannesburg Review of Books)

We send our condolences to his family and friends.

Sian Supski and Peter Beilharz

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