It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Chris van Wyk, the much-loved South African poet and writer, who passed away on 3 October 2014.
Staff at Pan Macmillan have had the pleasure and privilege of working with Chris since 2004 when we published his memoir Shirley, Goodness & Mercy. The warmth and humour of his childhood memories merely touched the essence of this larger-than-life man who filled our office with his laughter and his wit. It has been a joy working with Chris and getting to know him and his family.
His children’s book Ouma Ruby’s Secret, published in 2006 in all official languages, emphasised the importance of literacy. Chris was a frequent visitor to schools around the country where he enthralled children and teachers alike with his stories and his message of the value of reading. Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch, published in 2010, told further tales of Chris’s childhood and received a glowing and warm reception from media and readers alike. The children’s edition of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom was published in 2010. This work was a labour of love for Chris who carefully distilled the essence of Mandela’s epic life story for a younger audience.
Chris showed us how to laugh at life’s eccentricities and reminded us that shared stories build connection and community. Chris was always at pains to express the humour and also the sadness of life through his stories and was determined from an early age to become a writer. His dedication to his craft and his activism continued from his early days at SACHED, as the editor of the Ravan Press literary journal Staffrider and as a full-time writer all the while continuing to publish his works and speak to readers around the country.
We will miss him enormously.
Several eulogies about Chris’s contributions to South Africa have been published – please see some links to online versions below: