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Renowned author and poet Muhammad Omaruddin Don Mattera’s Journey to Islam

By Neelam Rahim

Mattera was well-known for his poetry and criticism of the anti-apartheid government.

According to Muslim rites, the iconic poet and author Muhammad Omaruddin Don Mattera was laid to rest at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg on Monday night.

Mattera was born in 1935. Many described Mattera as a voice of compassion and an activist who cared deeply for his community.

He grew up in Sophia town before the apartheid government moved his family to Westbury.

During the campaign against the forced removals from Sophia town, Mattera became a political activist and a member of the African National Congress.

He encountered Islam in the 1970s and considers his conversion (to Islam) one of the most significant milestones in his life.

Living a street life, Materra was approached by a man who invited him to a bayan given by Colonel Ameerudeen. During the bayan, Colonel Ameerudeen had said, ‘The house of Islam is on fire in the world.’

After the deliverance of the bayan, Ameerudeen had asked the question if there is anyone around here wanting to be part of us [Islam]. And in response, Mattera walked up to him and said, “You told me about the burning house; I want to help put the fire out. And on February 26 1974, at the Newtown mosque, Materra recited the Shahadah and embraced Islam.

Colonel Ameerudeen had said to him, ‘Woah, you are a sturdy one, you are Omar, be a good Muslim, be a good human being who fights for the freedom of others.’

Omaruddin Materra also said his history changed when he embraced Islam and recited the Shahada.

“My perspective of history changed. My view of the Almighty had gone through a 360-degree turn to spiritual and empirical consciousness.”

Authors, poets and other artists were among those that gathered to mourn the life and times of Bra Don, as he was affectionately known.

In an interview with the city of Johannesburg, he was asked how he would like to be remembered.

He replied: “I would like to be remembered as a person who loved his country and people.”

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