Dalit writer Shantabai K Kamble passed away at the age of 99
Pune: Eminent author Shantabai Krishnaji Kamble, popularly known as the first woman Dalit autobiographer, passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 99. His last rites will be performed at the Koparkhairane cremation ground.
Mother of the late Professor Arun Kamble, founder-member of the Dalit Panthers Party of India and politician, Shantabai’s family has her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Top Dalit personalities pay tribute to Shantabai and remember how “her writings of her life’s struggles helped fill a void in Dalit literature” after Dr BR Ambedkar’s constitution granted universal right to education in India did.
“After that many women got educated, some even started writing, but Shantabai laid the foundation of giving a strong voice to the society. weaker section of the society and Dalits. His immense contribution to Dalit literature can never be forgotten,” said Milind Kamble, a close family friend and president of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).
In March 1983, Shantabai, a 60-year-old retired government school teacher, began writing her autobiography ‘Majya Jalmachi Chitra Katha’ in Marathi, which was published as a series of articles in Poorva Patrika.
The series caught the popular imagination and in June 1986, it came out in book form, later made into a tele-serial for Doordarshan Marathi as ‘Najuka’ (August 1990 onwards).
As it grew in popularity, the autobiography was later translated into Hindi and other languages, as well as English and French (‘The Kaleidoscope Story of My Life’) for a global audience, and some chapters were published in Femina magazine.
The autobiography is also set as part of the curriculum at the University of Mumbai Marathi Literature, where her late son once served as head of the Marathi department, and years later an animated version also titled ‘Naja Goes to School’ appeared as
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