Kunene, Mazisi Raymond Fakazi Mngoni a South African Poet and academic, best known for his verse form Emperor Shaka the Great and laminitis of the anti-apartheid motion in Britain, was born in Durban South Africa, in the modern state of KwaZulu-Natal on May 12, 1930, at McCord ‘s Hospital. His female parent Eva Kunene ( nee Ngcobo ) was a instructor and his male parent, Mdabuli Albert Kunene, a laborer.
He grew up at Amahlongwa on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast where he attended primary school and subsequently proceeded to KwaAHluzingcondo High School.A After matriculating in Marianhill, he obtained a teaching certification at Maphumulo Teachers ‘ Training College.A
He began composing poesy and short narratives written originally in Zulu and so translated into English at an early age of 11 and was being published in local newspapers and magazines. In 1956 he won the Bantu Literary Competition Award
He undertook a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Natal in Zulu and history.A He earned a Masters grade in the Humanistic disciplines from at that place in 1959 for a paper entitled An Analytical Survey of Zulu Poetry, Both Traditional and Modern. There he criticized several inclinations in modern Zulu literature: its altering nature, its emulation of the Western tradition, its trust on European stylistic techniques instead than version of traditional 1s ; its unanalytical docudrama authorship ; and a slide toward mawkishness and escape that he saw as an influence of the Christian and Romantic traditions.
After a brief stretch in Lesotho, in 1959 he obtained a grant to finish his doctorial thesis at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and travelled to Britain But events overtook that aspiration as he got drawn into release political relations, going one of the establishing members of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in expatriate. He became Chief Representative for the African National Congress in the UK, Europe and USA in 1962 helping in that capacity for a figure of old ages before restarting his surveies in the US, where he took up a instruction station at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1973 where he was for 19 old ages. He opposed the apartheid authorities as the caput of the African United Front and helped force frontward the anti-apartheid motion in Britain between 1959-1968.
In 1966 he was officially banned from his place state along with 45 other writers. His plants were besides banned. His first volume of poesy, Zulu Poems, an anthology runing from verse form of moral contemplation to political commentary clearly uncovering the writer ‘s deep fond regard to his people and their cultural traditions and values was published in London in 1970..A By integrating elements from anthem, salutes and public presentation, his poesy stylistically resembles the specifically unwritten literature of the Zulus. A
He became an active protagonist and organiser of the anti-apartheid motion in Europe and Africa working closely with taking ANC figures like Oliver Tambo. After set uping the South African Exhibition Appeal in 1972, to raise financess for the ANC, he received echoing support from celebrated figures of the art universe including Picasso, Chagall, Giacometti, Moore and Rauschenberg. He had besides become the manager of finance for the ANC. From this point on, A he dedicated himself to the battle for freedom of African states.
He returned to academic life in the late seventiess. He lectured worldwide, accepted a invitee chair in African Literature at Stanford and taught at University of California in Los Angeles where he became a Professor of African Languages and literature in 1975. From 1977 he was a cultural adviser to UNESCO. He remained at UCLA for about two decennaries, retiring in 1992 toA return place.
As an African author and rational who was both widely distributed and national every bit good as an sturdy panAAfricanist, adopting an African literary and cultural ethos, he was esteemed for his trade by his coevalss. Inspired by the history of his people, particularly their battle for freedom and democracy against a barbarous system of colonialism and apartheid, Kunene ‘s literary work was profoundly rooted in the unwritten traditions and the autochthonal literature of the Nguni and, Sotho talkers of Southern Africa.A
The decennaries of 1980s and 1990s were Kunene ‘s most prolific as he produced eight major plants, in both English and isiZulu. His three heroic poems, Emperor Shaka the Great, 1979 ; Anthem of the Decade, 1981 ; and The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain, 1982, were received with critical acclamation, set uping him as one of Africa ‘s literary greats.
The conveyance of Zulu societal values and doctrines, which have been passed down through coevalss, is a cardinal characteristic of Kunene ‘s two great heroic verse forms. He contributed greatly towards the autochthonal historiography of black Africans in his heroic poem verse form Emperor Shaka the Great, published in English in 1979, described as “ a monumental project and accomplishment ” by Christopher Larson. This highly chauvinistic work in 17 volumes charted the growing of the Zulu state under Shaka, who governed the Zulu imperium in the first half of the nineteenth century, as he reforms the military and the state and conquers many of the folk around Zululand. Kunene was non merely concerned with showing a more complex image of the legendary sovereign, who is distorted by cliches in the white work forces ‘s histories, as a brutal, merciless, unpredictable barbarian, but was dying to picture him as a pan-African, as a compromising character stand foring the integrating of the black and the white populations.
In his 2nd heroic poem verse form, Anthem of the Decades: A Zulu Epic published in English in 1981, the poet turns his attending to the Zulu version of Creation, the Zulu fable of how decease came to mankind which perceives the narrative of world as an ageless conflict between conflicting factors of creation/destruction, good/evil, victory/defeat, desire/pain.A Women play a particular function in this position, incarnating rapprochement and balance, therefore life itself.
A 2nd aggregation of verse forms published in 1982, titled The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain: Poems incorporating 100 of his verse forms had a peculiar accent on socio-political subjects.
Famous for his Zulu version of Shakespeare ‘s Macbeth, Mabatha, Kunene besides published other books in Zulu including Isibusiso sikamhawu ( 1994 ) , Indida yamancasakazi ( 1995 ) , Umzwilili wama-Afrika ( 1996 ) and Igudu likaSomcabeko ( 1997 ) .
In 1969, Kunene wrote an introductory essay to John Berger and Ann Bostock ‘s interlingual rendition of Aime Cesaire ‘s Return to my Native Land.A
He worked for establishments such as the Afro-asian Writers Committee and founded the South African Vocational Programme for refugees in Tanzania and Zambia.A
In 1993, after 34 old ages of expatriate, the poet returned to South Africa, where he was offered a lectureship in Zulu Literature at the University of Natal where he lectured until his retirement. In the same twelvemonth he was appointed as Poet Laureate for Arab and African states by UNESCO and in March 2005 he became the poet laureate of South Africa. The former University of Natal bestowed an honorary doctor’s degree on him in acknowledgment of his part to originative authorship.
Kunene is one of the few African authors who did non repress himself to the linguistic communication of the colonial powers. Nevertheless, for a long clip his plants, written in Zulu, were merely published in English, in his ain interlingual renditions. Equally good as legion verse forms, Kunene has produced a play and two screenplays: “ Even when he was merely a kid, his male parent could see the ‘imbongi ‘ in him ; the authoritative bard, who recites words of congratulations and of unfavorable judgment about those with power. ” – Peter Ripken
Kunene passed off in his hometown Durban after a drawn-out turn of malignant neoplastic disease on August 11, 2006, and is survived by his married woman Mathabo Kunene and his four kids.
Arthur Edgar E. Smith
Department of Language Studies
Fourah Bay College,
University of Sierra Leone
World Literature Today, summer 1983, cited in “ Mazisi Kunene ” Contemporary Writers Online, Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center, Farmington Hills, Mich. : Thomson Gale. 2006.
^ Stewart, Jacelyn Y. ( 19 September, 2009 ) . “ Mazisi Kunene, 76 ; Zulu Poet, Teacher Fought Apartheid ” . LA Times. hypertext transfer protocol: //articles.latimes.com/2006/sep/19/local/me-kunene19. Retrieved Feb 17, 2010.A
^ Masilela, Ntongela. “ Mazisi Kunene ” . Poetry International Web. p. South Africa on Poetry International Web. hypertext transfer protocol: //southafrica.poetryinternationalweb.org/piw_cms/cms/cms_module/index.php? obj_id=11277.
The Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust:
hypertext transfer protocol: //www.kunenefoundation.org
A Tribute to Mazisi Kunene and the Mazisi Kunene Project
hypertext transfer protocol: //www.cca.ukzn.ac.za/images/pa/pa2006/pg/Mazisi_Kunene.htm
Dlamini, S. ( 2010, March 12 ) . Activist Intellectual. Metro Ezasegagasini, p. 8.
An Analytical Survey of Zulu Poetry an archaeological study of the flight of Zulu poesy from the pre-Shakan epoch to modern times is non merely engaged with the generation and metabolism of Zulu poetic signifier through the ages, but besides, and even more imposingly, it inaugurated a subject that was to be changeless throughout his poetic creativeness – the construction of the African cosmogonic universe.
Though the two heroic poems are distinguishable great vocals about African doctrine of life as determined by and inherently integrated to African cosmology, Mazisi Kunene seems to hold felt compelled to compose expository and redolent essays on the specificities of this cosmology because of the tearing consequence European modernness has had on African traditions, as the caption of the thesis clearly implies.
This ruptured universe gave the great poet several figure of speechs that were the stability of his poetic imaginativeness: a salute to Nature ‘s holistic complexness ; because of the lasting propinquity of life and decease in the African universe, in fact of their cyclical nature, Mazisi Kunene invokes the bygone liquors or Ancestors non to abandon the universe of the life ; and the fanciful integrity of the African universe – fanciful and no less existent because of it.
In composing this survey, he had been inspired and challenged by Benedict Vilakazi ‘s doctorial thesis of 1946: The Oral and Written Literature in Nguni. Despite the ambivalency Kunene had towards Vilakazi in his initiatory yearss, as evident in the styptic words the younger poet had for the first major Zulu poet, the senior poet imparted to him moral rational strong belief that he dispensed with in all his old ages of poetic creativeness: the lingual and cultural high quality of African linguistic communications over the European linguistic communications.
This is the ground that Mazisi Kunene ne’er abandoned Zulu in his poetic pattern, when most African authors of his coevals aligned themselves with European linguistic communications, this was true of African authors from Ezekiel Mphahlele to Wole Soyinka, from Chinua Achebe to Nuruddin Farah. Mazisi Kunene affirmed his committedness to Zulu specifically and the African linguistic communications in general through paying to Vilakazi.
The senior poet was an attach toing usher on the religious and poetic journey of the younger poet. Vilakazi non merely enabled Kunene to turn up himself in African rational traditions, he besides imparted to him a civilization of opposition. In “ A Meeting with Vilakazi, The Great Zulu Poet ” , he recognized the accomplishments of his maestro:
And the old dance sphere was filled with festival crowds.
Your great vocals echoed to the concomitant of the festival horn
It was the beginning of our antediluvian new twelvemonth
Before the aliens came, before they planted their ain emblems.
I came to the sphere and you held my manus.
Together we danced the boast-dance of our sires
We sang the great anthems of the uLundi mountains.
Among the many things that Benedict Vilakazi imparted to Mazisi Kunene was the necessity of reconstructing the distinction of African linguistic communications in the African imaginativeness, in replacing of European linguistic communications which are “ foreign emblems ” . In composing about dancing to the ‘forefathers ‘ , he was voicing his duty in admiting the poetic heritage of which he was the latest representative. One of his darling ‘Ancestors ‘ was Mshongweni, the great 19th century Royal Court poet of Shaka, of whom he had this to state in ‘Tribute to Mshongweni ‘ :
Your dreams shall occupy our Earth
Making an eternal line of skylines
We excessively shall follow the vocal of the night-bird to the hill
The whole Earth shall see the falling star
The clip that bears the glorious seasons
Shall stampede to the vale of fecundity
The emanations of the first-fruit shall come from all states
The mountain springs shall split open their freshness.
When Mazisi Kunene wrote that “ we excessively shall follow the vocal of the night-bird to the hill ” and that he will sing “ the great anthems of the uLundi mountains ” , he was assuring the African State of South Africa, so in a mortal battle with white domination and apartheid, that he would give it immortal works that specify its African Identity in the context of a complex Africa, as Aime Cesaire references in the epigraph.
Indeed, Mazisi Kunene has over the last five decennaries given South Africa such extraordinary work that major authors such as JM Coetzee, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Andre Brink and Ngugi wa Thiong’o have designated him as “ a great poet ” .
In acknowledgment of his accomplishment, the South African authorities, on March 5, 2005, about 15 months before his passage to the Ancestors, gave him the first South African National Poet Laureate Prize.
Zulu Poems. New York, Africana Publishing Corporation, 1970
Emperor Shaka the Great: A Zulu Epic. London, Heinemann, 1979 ( written text and interlingual rendition of traditional heroic poem )
Anthem of the Decades: A Zulu Epic Dedicated to the Women of Africa. London, Heinemann, 1981
The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain: Poems. London, Heinemann, 1982
Isibusiso Sikamhawu, Via Afrika, 1994
Indida Yamancasakazi, 1995
Amalokotho Kanomkhubulwane, 1996
Umzwilili wama-Afrika, Kagiso, 1996
Igudu lika Somcabeko, Van Schaik, 1997
Echos from the Mountain. New and Selected Poems by Mazisi Kunene, Malthouse Press, 2007