Department of Sport, Arts and Culture pays tribute to an acclaimed and prolific Afrikaans author Ms Elsa Joubert

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19 Jun 2020

The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture sends its warmest condolences to the family of the late Ms Elsa Joubert and to the literary community in South Africa and abroad.

Every reader of her books will carry the baton of her literary legacy through continuing to cherish her vision and the truths of her writing.  She was prolific in telling the South African story, perhaps none more moving than her 1978 novel, in ‘Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena. She was courageous in telling the story of an Afrikaans-speaking Xhosa woman, who tries to keep her family together by navigating the day-to-day struggle against the inhumane pass laws of the apartheid government. The book was published during a period when the apartheid state was ruthless, imprisoning, detaining and killing students and other activists who dared to defy its laws. The book is a testimony to the power of the author and to the book’s strength that it has been translated into thirteen languages and has won multiple awards worldwide.

Ms Joubert remains a role model for younger authors as she won many accolades for her literary works in Afrikaans.

Ms Joubert has made a sterling contribution and her selflessness and generosity will be missed by all who interacted with her. Her writing lives on, remaining a gift to the nation for generations to come.

Our heartfelt condolences to the Joubert family and to her many friends, fellow authors and friends. May you be consoled that she has provided us with literary beacons in the darkest of times.  May you treasure the many memories you must have of this literary giant who raised her voice at a time when many did not and told the stories that no one else could tell and told it well.

Media Enquiries:

Masechaba Khumalo: Spokesperson (Minister),  Tel: 066 380 7408 | Email:

Mr Mickey Modisane: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Sport) Tel: 082 992 0101 | Email:

Ms Zimasa Velaphi: Chief Director Marketing and Communications (Arts and Culture)  Tel: 072 172 8925 | Email:  

Issued by: The Department of Sport, Arts & Culture