Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Reclaiming Lost Ground-The History Play in Zulu

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Reclaiming Lost Ground-The History Play in Zulu

Article excerpt

Abstract

Reclaiming lost ground--the history play in Zulu

This article briefly sketches the history of African-language literatures as initiated by missionaries and formed by Bantu education. Against this background the aim of this article is to establish what the objectives of Zulu dramatists were when they presented historical fact, flawed history, as well as ideological sentiment in their historical plays. Are history plays in Zulu simply the products of writers whose objective was to meet a publisher's requirements, namely to extend the dramatic genre by writing history plays? Did authors perhaps only have an educational objective, that is, to provide learners with setwork material? If, on the other hand, the history play is the creation of a memory for a specific purpose, as post-colonial theorists suggest, the next objective of this article is to establish what kind of memory Zulu dramatists have created and for what purpose. The history plays will be discussed under the following topics: UNodumehlezi kaMenzi--He who is famous as he sits, son of Menzi (King Shaka). In exploring aspects of Shaka's rule, it becomes clear that writers express their pain about the great loss the Zulu nation suffered when the Shakan ere passed. The second topic treats Izwe lidungekile--The land is in turmoil. The dramas dealt with here vividly depict the pitiful state of the Zulu after their subjugation by the British empire, leading eventually to an inevitable option--armed resistance. The third end last topic, Izwe ngelethu--The land is ours--treats the issue of land.

Opsomming

Die herwin van verlore waardigheid--die historiese drama in Zoeloe Hierdie artikel skets kortliks die geskiedenis van Afrikataalletterkundes soos gestimuleer deur sendelinge en gevorm deur Bantoe-onderwys. Teen hierdie agtergrond is die doel van hierdie artikel om te bepaal wat die mikpunt van Zoeloe-dramaturge was in hut aanbieding van historiese feite, foutiewe geskiedenis, sowel as ideologiese sentiment in die skryf van historiese dramas. Is historiese dramas eenvoudig die produkte van skrywers wie se doel dit was om aan 'n uitgewer se vereistes te voldoen, naamlik om meer dramas die lig te laat sien? Het skrywers miskien 'n opvoedkundige doel gekoester, naamlik om leerders te voorsien van voorgeskrewe stof? Indien die historiese drama egter die rekonstruksie van geskiedenis of herinnering is vir 'n spesifieke doel, soos postkoloniale teoretici inderdaad suggereer, is die volgende taak van die artikel om te bepaal wat die aard van sodanige herinnenng is en vir walter doel dit daar is. Die histonese dramas sat bespreek word na aanleiding van die volgende temas: UNodumehlezi kaMenzi--Hy wat sittend beroemdheid verwerf, seun van Menzi (Koning Shaka). In hul behandeling van aspekte van Shaka se bewind, word dit duidelik dat skrywers hul leed uitbeeld oor die groot verlies wat die Zoeloe-nasie gely met die verbygaan van die Shaka-era. Die tweede tema wat behandel word, is Izwe lidungekile --Die land is in rap en roer. Die dramas wat bier behandel word, beeld die jammerlike toestand uit waarin die Zoeloes hulself bevind het nadat hulle onderwerp is aan die Britse koninktyk. Hierdie situasie het gelei tot 'n onvermydelike keuse, naamlik gewapende opstand. Onder die laaste opskrif, Izwe ngelethu--Die land is ons s'n--sien ons hoe die kwessie van grondbesit behandel word.

1. Introduction

Initiated by missionaries (except for a few literatures) and forged by Bantu Education, literatures in African languages have always occupied a peculiar position among the literatures of South Africa. The religious intentions of the missionaries and the separate development envisaged for African languages and their literatures by the apartheid government saw to it that these literatures did not develop in an uninhibited manner, to say the least. In the light of these circumstances and the many disparaging views expressed on African language literatures (sea Ntuli, 1987:127 for a short summary of these views), the question can rightly be asked: for what purpose have African language authors been writing books? …

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