Research Article

The impressions of writers of isiXhosa literary texts about the pre-Soviet and Soviet-era Russia

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 41, issue 2, 2021 , pages: 214–221
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2021.1948226
Author(s): Godfrey Vulindlela Mona, South Africa


The argument of this transdisciplinary article is that isiXhosa poetry is a primary source of historical evidence. The article argues that through the study of isiXhosa literary texts we can discern the impressions of isiXhosa writers about the sociopolitical and economic relationship of South Africa with pre-Soviet and Soviet Russia. The support of the Boers by Russia during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 resulted in resentment of Russia as a Xhosa writer demonstrated support for Britain, which was, according to him, less oppressive. A revolution in Russia, which led to the founding of the Soviet Union, attracted the attention of Xhosa writers who admired the socialist principles of non-racialism and equality. In South Africa, the anti-socialism legislation of the segregation and apartheid governments resulted in caution and a mute voice about Russia. During the post-Sharpeville massacre era, linguistic devices which were intended to evade censorship were utilised to conceal the calls for support from the East or Russia in the struggle against apartheid. Some writers in the seventies were ‘interpellated’ by the anti-socialism/Russia/Communism/Soviet ideology propagated by the apartheid regime. The writers of the late eighties and nineties rebutted the abovementioned stance with compliments and expressions of gratitude to Russia for military support for the liberation struggle in South Africa.

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