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Archive for the ‘isiXhosa’ Category

Jeff Opland: Contemporary Praise Poets are Losing the Right to Censure Leadership with Impunity

William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliDLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeJeff Opland is regarded as an authority on Xhosa poetry and was recently quoted in an article about praise poets by Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi for the Mail & Guardian.

Opland, who is also the editor of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888) and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, comments on the changing role of the praise poet figure in South African society.

The praise poet function traditionally functions as a voice of the people, but Opland says that this function is changing in contemporary politics:

Historically, a praise poet would come up through the ranks and become an official praise poet partly by gaining the support of the leader’s subjects. Part of the licence and responsibility of the official role was the right to censure the leadership without the fear of recourse.

According to Opland, the praise poet “had the privilege of criticising the chief with impunity. His criticism was never intended to stir up dissent or dissatisfaction, but rather to express popular opinion.” In turn, the leader would draw the praise poet close, in part because of the poet’s ability to praise the leader lyrically.

Things are very different in South Africa today and the annual opening of Parliament is an unwelcome reminder of the praise singer’s turn for the worse. This year, as on many other occasions, the praise singer was selected without the active participation of the citizenry.

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Discover DLP Yali-Manisi, the Legendary Xhosa Imbongi Who Died in Obscurity

 
DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeWilliam Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliUKZN Press has shared the introduction from Volume 2 of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems.

The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, contains research into Xhosa folklore, especially praise poetry, and the history of Xhosa literature.

It includes field recordings of Xhosa poets (1969–85), books and pamphlets in isiXhosa, and copies of literature published in ephemera.

The Publications Series recognises works previously unrecognised or unavailable as published books.

The first two volumes in the series, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, were published in early 2015.
 
Read an excerpt from Volume 1:

 
Read the excerpt from Volume 2:

Introduction to DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems by Books LIVE

 

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Discover a Legendary Xhosa Man of Letters in an Excerpt from William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali

William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliDLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeUKZN Press has shared the introduction from Volume 1 of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888).

The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, is the academic library Opland assembled in the course of his research into Xhosa folklore, especially praise poetry, and the history of Xhosa literature.

Its contents include field recordings of Xhosa poets (1969–85), books and pamphlets in isiXhosa, and copies of literature published in ephemera. The Publications Series draws on material in the Collection, and presents diplomatic editions with English translations of significant works in isiXhosa, for the most part previously unrecognised or unavailable as published books.

The first two volumes in the series, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, were published in early 2015.

Related news:

 

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Read the excerpt:

Introduction from William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888) by Books LIVE

 

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Xhosa Literature in the Spotlight: William Wellington Gqoba and DLP Yali-Manisi Come to Life at Clarke’s Bookshop

Duncan Brown, Pamela Maseko and Jeff Opland

The intimate gathering of poets and scholars, friends and family who joined to celebrate the latest titles to be published by UKZN Press upstairs at Clarke’s Bookshop was a delightful affair. At what is arguably the oldest independent book shop in the country, the two volumes, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888), edited by Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko, and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, edited by Opland and Maseko, were celebrated enthusiastically.

The editorial and translation team of Maseko and Opland were joined in conversation by Duncan Brown, Dean of the Arts Faculty at the University of the Western Cape. He described these books as “very significant texts that will be points of reference for many decades to come”. Brown observed the terrific coincidence that the Cape Town launch of these books occurred on the birthday of the late Glenn Cowley, founding publisher of UKZN Press.

Jeff OplandDLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeWilliam Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliOpland said his private collection, The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, represented some 40 years of research, and has always been available to those who needed to consult it for work on PhDs, books or documentary films. He said it was important to return it the people from whom it came.

“Xhosa literature is marginalised in this country,” he said. “If you go into any bookshop, you do not see Xhosa books. If you ask the question ‘where is Xhosa literature?’ you’re justified in being doubtful. We wanted to restore the integrity of the literature which was printed for the first time in 1823.”

Opland spoke about the long history of gestation and production of Xhosa literature, which precedes the development of Afrikaans by at least 50 years, and articulated the reality of the dearth of Xhosa literature.

“People don’t read it because there isn’t anything worth reading,” Opland said. “Under apartheid, under the missionaries that preceded apartheid, and even today, the vast majority of material published was prescribed for use in schools. Most of the material published in Xhosa were designed for reading by children.”

Opland discovered an extraordinary amount of Xhosa material published in newspapers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“There you have adult authors writing for adult readers. You have a reflection of the confrontation with colonialism, the response to it, the wrangling of the Christian church trying to accommodate the introduction of Christianity, very often on a hostile basis by the missionaries. This adult literature that exists in newspapers is luminous. What we’re trying to do is to bring back into the public domain works of literature of some standing by authors of some standing who are not recognised because the history of Xhosa literature has not been written and nobody teaches it.”

Opland said these books aim to present the work as it was written in the time in which it appeared.

Maseko joined the conversation by acknowledging their co-editor, Wandile Kuse, who could unfortunately not attend. She recalled her early introduction to South African history as a university student in the late 1980s at UWC where there were those who attempted to provide an alternative to the dominant historical narrative.

“We were made aware of a summary of a poem by Gqoba, and the great education debate,” she said. “This was presented in English as somebody who sought to present a counter-argument to the benefits of Western education. What remained was the knowledge that there was a voice from where I came from.

“I grew up in Engcobo where storytelling was a form of educating in the highest way. You were taught, not indoctrinated, in the ways of life.”

The authors continued with an inspired and warm-hearted discussion about the process of collating the work, sharing their real concerns about the loss of archival material, and the future publications on which they are currently collaborating. This fascinating talk enriched all who could attend and is available as a podcast below.
 

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Liesl Jobson tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:



 

 

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Two new UKZN Press titles were launched at Clarke's Bookshop: William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa…

Posted by UKZN Press on Monday, 1 June 2015

 
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Join Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko for the PE Launch of William Wellington Gqoba and DLP Yali-Manisi

Launch of William Wellington Gqoba and DLP Yali-Manisi

 
William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888)DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeUKZN Press and Fogarty’s Bookshop would like to invite you to the launch of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888) edited by Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems edited by Opland and Maseko.

Opland and Maseko will introduce the first two volumes of the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature at the GFI Art Gallery on Wednesday, 20 May, at 5:30 for 6 PM.

The books will be sold at a special launch price – R250 for William Wellington Gqoba and R120 for DLP Yali-Manisi – and wine and snacks will be served.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 20 May 2015
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: GFI Art Gallery
    30 Park Drive
    Port Elizabeth | Map
  • Refreshments: Wine and snacks available
  • RSVP: 041 368 1425, fogartys@global.co.za

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Join Jeff Opland for the Launch of William Wellington Gqoba and DLP Yali-Manisi at Rhodes University

Jeff Opland Book Launch

 
William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888)DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeUKZN Press invites you to the launch of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888), edited by Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko, and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, edited by Opland and Maseko.

Opland will discuss the two books at the Cory Library at Rhodes University on Thursday, 14 May, at 5:30 for 6 PM.

William Wellington Gqoba contains the collected writings of a wagonmaker, historian, poet and folklorist – the “Xhosa Man of Letters” – while DLP Yali-Manisi tells the story of legendary Thembu Imbongi, David Livingstone Phakamile Yali-Manisi, and the art of praise poetry.

Don’t miss it!

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Undermine Mother Tongue Languages and You Stifle the Nation – Pamela Maseko

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeWilliam Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliDr Pamela Maseko recently wrote an article about the importance of being educated in one’s mother tongue, inspired by International Mother Language Day on Saturday, 21 February.

Maseko, the co-editor of DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems and William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888), explains that “cognitive abilities are formed and perfected” through one’s mother language and enforced English instruction from as early as grade three does not guarantee higher levels of English literacy.

“To undermine a child’s mother tongue means not only devaluing languages other than English as an expression of identity, culture and heritage, but stifling the growth of our nation,” Maseko writes.

Read the article:

If we consider that a high level knowledge of mother tongue strongly determines a child’s overall literacy development, and that a deeper understanding of a second language is gained if mother tongue is maintained while learning another language, there is no debate that we need to relook at the role of mother tongue in education. It also seems clear that the solution lies not only in either-or answers, but in parallel situations where children are taught in English as well as African languages.

African language speakers must become the producers and consumers of knowledge in learning processes where, as with English speakers, home language is a reservoir from which to draw context for new information and synthesize further information.

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New: The Astonishing Poetry of Legendary Thembu Imbongi, David Yali-Manisi

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeUKZN Press presents DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko:

David Livingstone Phakamile Yali-Manisi (1926–99) was a Thembu imbongi, the most powerful exponent of the art of praise poetry in the Xhosa language, in the second half of the twentieth century. His literary career, however, was blighted by circumstances beyond his control, and he died in total obscurity. Manisi was obliged to seek his audiences throughout the lifetime of South Africa’s reviled policy of apartheid, and the poet’s reputation, initially full of promise, waned as a consequence. He was a lifelong supporter of Nelson Mandela and the author of the earliest poem in praise of Mandela (1954), but he was never able to fulfil his ambition of performing a poem in honour of Mandela in a liberated South Africa.

Manisi exhibited a marked penchant for extending the panegyric mode of the imbongi into explicit narrative; he also displayed an astonishing capacity to compose poetry in the act of performance. This volume presents eight of his narrative poems in isiXhosa and in English translation. Four of them are drawn from his earliest published books, together with the complete text of his epic poem on the War of Mlanjeni, published in 1983; also included are three remarkable spontaneous poems produced with little forethought. The poems address events in the first 80 years of the nineteenth century, and feature blunt assessments of figures such as Ntsikana, Ngqika, Nonesi, Sandile, Sir Harry Smith, Nongqawuse and Sir George Grey. David Yali-Manisi ardently anticipated the restoration of black control under those imprisoned on Robben Island, fighters for liberty quite as heroic as the crane-feathered warriors of the nineteenth century. His poetry, both written and performed, plumbed the past to inspire resistance to present injustices.

About the editors

Jeff Opland earned a PhD in English and African Languages from the University of Cape Town in 1973. After teaching at the universities of Cape Town, Durban-Westville, Toronto and Leipzig, at Vassar College, and at Rhodes and Yale University, he retired in 2014 from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of Anglo-Saxon Oral Poetry (1980), Xhosa Oral Poetry (1983) and Xhosa Poets and Poetry (1998), and has discovered, edited and translated Xhosa works by Nontsizi Mgqwetho (2007), Isaac Williams Wauchope (2008) and SEK Mqhayi (2009). An account of his 29-year association with DLP Yali-Manisi, The Dassie and the Hunter, was published in 2005.

Pamela Maseko holds a PhD in Sociolinguistics in African Languages from Rhodes University. She taught at the University of Cape Town and currently teaches Sociolinguistics and Applied Language Studies, with a focus on Translation Studies, at Rhodes. She has translated and adapted various literary fictional and non-fictional texts into isiXhosa, including texts in the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu, Mvezo and the Bhunga Building in Mthatha. With Opland she serves as General Editor of the Publications of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature.

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The Rise of the Zulu Royal House Illuminated in The James Stuart Archive: Volume 6

The James Stuart ArchiveStephen Coan has written an article for The Witness about the James Stuart Archive, specifically Colin Webb and John Wright’s work on Volume 6, which was recently released.

The James Stuart Archive, left by former Natal civil servant James Stuart, contains oral information collected in the 19th and 20th centuries from around 200 people in Natal, Zululand and Swaziland.

The James Stuart Archive: Volume 6 contains the last of the evidence published in alphabetical name order, although a volume of praise songs is in production as well.

Wright, Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, told Coan that Volume 6 is notable for its interviews with Socwatsha ka Papu, who was “Stuart’s main informant, and his first, from 1897 until 1922″.

“He was a government man rather than the resister,” said Wright, adding that Socwatsha was a member of resident commissioner in Zululand Melmoth Osborn’s staff in Zululand in the 1880s and later with the Native Affairs Department in Pietermaritzburg.

“But he was an alert and critical government man.”

Wright said Socwatsha’s testimony is particularly valuable for his information on the rise of the Zulu Royal House in the 19th century.

“It’s a view from the side as it were.”

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iBhokhwe Director Calls for More Dialogue Around Homosexuality and African Culture

A Man Who is Not a ManJohn Trengove was recently interviewed on Morning Live about his short film iBhokhwe (The Goat), which is based on part of Thando Mgqolozana‘s book A Man Who is Not a Man.

Trengove says that he was researching Xhosa intiations and circumcision when he came across Mgqolozana’s book: “It’s a very evocative, very personal story that was quite beautiful and there was one chapter in particular that as soon as I read it I knew that it would make a very powerful and very interesting short film.”

Trengove’s 13 minute film, which was shown at the Berlinale in Germany last week, focuses on the controversial topics of circumcision and homosexuality in traditional Xhosa culture. The award-winning director believes these issues deserve more attention in Africa, especially in the context of recent Nigerian and Ugandan laws that criminalise homosexuality.

“There seems to be a widely held perception that homosexuality is something that is un-African,” he says, “and we’re interested in making work that starts from the premise that homoerotic desire is something that is as ancient as African culture.”

Watch the interview here:

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