S.E.K. Mqhayi, Iziganeko zesizwe

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Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (1875-1945) was the most prominent South African imbongi of his day, a Xhosa oral poet who declaimed his impromptu poetry on occasions of significance to his people. The author of numerous works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, biography, autobiography and translation, Mqhayi’s contributions to Xhosa-language newspapers remains unparalleled in scope and volume. This book reclaims and assembles a chronological sequence of Mqhayi’s occasional poems, for the most part now unknown – 60 poems celebrating significant events in the calendar, on occasions of national or international importance. They constitute Iziganeko zesizwe, a chronicle of the nation, between 1900 and 1943: poetic responses to events from the perspective of the greatest figure in Xhosa literature. Wars feature prominently in these occasional poems – the Boer War, the First World War, the invasion of Abyssinia, the Second World War – as do political deputations to England, visits from British princes and the death of British kings, the appearance of Halley’s Comet and meetings with Ministers of State. Running through the collection is Mqhayi’s proud and fierce determination to maintain an identity rooted in custom and history in the face of territorial dispossession, the loss of title deeds and the vote, and the steady erosion of human rights. Throughout these years, Mqhayi remained constant in offering praise and encouragement to his people, in celebrating their achievements, and in expressing Christian consolation and an unflinching faith in the future liberation of South Africa’s black population from foreign control.

TITLE: S.E.K. MQHAYI, IZIGANEKO ZESIZWE

AUTHOR: OPLAND, J and MTUZE, P

PUBLISHER: UKZN PRESS

ISBN: 9781869143343

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