The impact of the contending segregation and Africanism ideologies on isiXhosa written poetry: 1912–1934

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 85–95
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1572328
Author(s): Godfrey Vulindlela MonaLanguage Centre, South Africa


The central argument in this article, drawn from an interdisciplinary study, is that the isiXhosa written poetry produced between 1912 and 1934 is the terrain of a struggle between contending ideologies of Segregation and Africanism. Texts (aspects of culture) produced by prominent writers of the time, namely Mqhayi, Mgqwetho and Solilo, are analysed and interpreted in this article. The findings reveal that the contents of the selected texts promote the ideology of Africanism. The study argues that the Union of South Africa resisted the spread of the Africanist ideology through setting up an ideological and repressive state apparatus that worked for the control of the quality and quantity of literary production, and through asserting the hegemony of the segregation ideology. The findings of the research also reveal that the state apparatus had limited success as the poets continued to disseminate the ideology of Africanism through their poetry. Marxist theory informed by Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural construction has been employed to analyse and interpret textual significations of isiXhosa written poetry. Gramsci postulates that ideology and culture play a significant role in asserting hegemony.

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