The contact and clash of the Basotho and Western cultures in Mafata’s novel Mehaladitwe ha e eketheha

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 40, issue 1, 2020 , pages: 19–25
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2020.1733820
Author(s): Johannes SeemaSchool of Languages, South Africa


This article explores the theme of contact and clash of two cultures, that of the Basotho tradition and Western civilisation in Mafata’s novel Mehaladitwe ha e eketheha. Mafata encourages the promotion of the Basotho culture and a move for the Basotho to reaffirm their identity. In Mafata’s efforts to articulate the contact and clash of the two cultures, the author has employed young characters as a tool for portraying his artistic message. The article demonstrates the author’s characterisation technique that entails creating two different sets of characters – characters endowed with attributes of indigenous Basotho culture and characters dominated by European culture. When Theko goes to the Basotho initiation school, he is reclaiming Basotho identity for the Mohlakeng community; he symbolises the youth of Mohlakeng. His cousin Kgama, on the other hand, symbolises Western sympathies because he goes to a missionary school. Since Kgama and Sentebaleng who both attend the Western-oriented school are young people, their lives are easily disrupted and taken over by new self-identities. Once their original identities are erased, they are lost and cannot talk about their cultural identity. The original identities of Theko, Dipuo and Dibakiso, on the other hand, are not erased as they symbolise their Basotho culture.

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