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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Remaking the warrior? The role of orality in the liberation struggle in a post-apartheid South Africa
Author:Gunner, LizISNI
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subject:praise poetry
Abstract:The ability of praise poetry to exploit the symbolic capital of a particular culture has long been recognized, but its ability to collapse the heroic past into a heroic present, and in this way make memory work for it, has been underestimated. During his political career and at his funeral in 1967 the Natal ANC leader, Chief Albert Luthuli, was the subject of praise poems, in which the warrior image played a crucial part. The warrior image was adaptable enough to move into the sphere of oppositional politics for a national figure. In the decade leading up to South Africa's 1994 elections there was a significant energizing of the national debate and of the liberation struggle within the country through the use of praise poetry. The form was utilized by praise poets in the Transkei following on in the tradition of S.E.K. Mqhayi - moving between the national and the subnational in their poetry - and also by trade union poets. In the postelection situation praise poetry is being marginalized and canonized. It is marginalized in the sense that it has lost its proactive role and its involvement in the making of a nation. It is being canonized because it is seen as an important ingredient in what is perceived as exportable to the outside world as 'South African culture'. Bibliogr., notes, ref.