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Tribute to Ms Elsa Joubert

Author: Prof Vivienne Lawack: Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) community expresses its condolences for the passing of our Prof Nico Steytler’s mother, Elsa Joubert.

(Photo credit to LitNet)

(Published - 15 June 2020)

Ms Joubert, an iconic South African author, died yesterday at the age of 97 in her Cape Town home from COVID-19. Prof Steytler is the SARChI Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy at the Dullar Omar Institute in the Faculty of Law at UWC.

Ms Joubuert’s book Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena) was recently turned into an award-winning film, directed by Christian Olwagen and starring Clementine Mosimane. Poppie Nongena was voted one of the top 100 best books of the 20th century and was translated into 13 languages.

Our Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, said one of his fondest gifts was a signed copy of Ms Joubert’s book. He said she had a close affinity to the University.

“Apart from her son Nico working at UWC, she held the University very close to her heart and was on occasion even a guest lecturer here. She was very supportive of UWC and had a personal relationship with our former Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jakes Gerwel, as both of them were renowned literary figures,” said Prof Pretorius.

According to South African History Online, Ms Joubert, born Elsabé Antoinette Murray Joubert, was born on 19 October 1922 in Paarl, where she grew up, and studied at the universities of Stellenbosch (BA and SOD) and Cape Town (MA in Afrikaans-Nederlands).

"Within two years of starting a career as a high school teacher in Cradock she became editor of Die Huisgenoot (1946-1948) and thereafter a full-time writer. Since then Joubert wrote numerous novels, short stories, travelogues and plays," the website reports.

Ms Joubert was married to the late journalist and writer, Klaas Steytler. She leaves behind two daughters, Elsabé and Henriëtte, and her son Nico.

We will remember Ms Joubert fondly as having been a valued member of the UWC family and we wish Prof Steytler and the rest of his family well over this difficult time.

Prof Vivienne Lawack
Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor


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