Es'kia Mphahlele (17 December 1919 – 27 October 2008) was a South African writer, educationist, artist and activist celebrated as the Father of African Humanism and one of the founding figures of modern African literature.
He was given the name Ezekiel Mphahlele at birth but changed his name to Es'kia in 1977.
His journey from a childhood in the slums of Pretoria to a literary icon was an odyssey both intellectually and politically.
As a writer, he brought his own experiences in and outside South Africa to bear on his short stories, fiction, autobiography and history, developing the concept of African humanism.
He skilfully evoked the black experience under apartheid in Down Second Avenue (1959).
It recounted his struggle to get an education and the setbacks he experienced in his teaching career.Mphahlele wrote two autobiographies, more than 30 short stories, two verse plays and a number of poems.
He is deemed as the "Dean of African Letters".He was the recipient of numerous international awards.
In 1969, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 1984, he was awarded the Order of the Palm by the French government for his contribution to French Language and Culture.
He was the recipient of the 1998 World Economic Forum Crystal Award for Outstanding Service to the Arts and Education.
In 1998, former President Nelson Mandela awarded Mphahlele the Order of the Southern Cross, then the highest recognition granted by the South African Government (equivalent today to the Order of Mapungubwe).