Reconsidering Mqhayi’s literary canon in relation to his 19th and 20th century works

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 39, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 96–101
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2019.1572331
Author(s): Ntombomzi Rose-May MazwiSchool of Languages & Literatures (African Language Studies Section), Grahamstown


The purpose of this paper is to engage with the thoughts, ideas and knowledge embedded in the writings of SEK Mqhayi, during the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing on his biographical poems in particular. He wrote these poems in honour of different people of different stature, race, gender, age and creed. He praised them in life or after death. In the light of present debates taking place in higher education about transformation in the academy, and the advocacy for consideration of indigenous ways of knowing in the teaching, learning and research practices of the higher education institutions, Mqhayi’s writings have much to contribute. The article draws on an analysis of thirty poems which formed the data of the author’s PhD research. The poems were first published in old isiXhosa newspapers supplied by the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature in London. They were retyped and translated into English by the author. Theoretically, this article is underpinned by historical-biographical criticism.

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