n Journal for Islamic Studies - 'Complex subjectivities' : Don Omaruddin Mattera's conversion to Islam, beyond a political reading and a biographical essay

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



Known invariably as the 'Bard of liberation,' or more lately as 'the poet of compassion,' it is rather odd that Don Mattera remains an enigma in South African scholarship. Without claiming to offer a comprehensive biographical account of Don Mattera, the specific aim of this essay is to make sense of Mattera's conversion to Islam as well as his encounter with resurgent Muslim organizations. Foregrounding his autobiographical voice, sense of agency and self, the essay ventures to challenge a prevailing tendency in academic literature that often interprets Black and African conversion to Islam in strictly political terms. Hence while the essay acknowledges the dialectical tension between the political and spiritual in Mattera's religious journey, it contends that any reading or interpretation of Don Mattera's encounter with Islam that dismisses the spiritual dimension of his conversion would be grossly mistaken.

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