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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The image of the book in Xhosa oral poetry
Author:Opland, JeffISNI
Periodical:Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
oral poetry
Abstract:By the end of the 19th century, a generation of mature Xhosa writers had evolved in South Africa who wholeheartedly embraced the technology of print. There were two independent weekly newspapers controlled by black editors at the time. While Xhosa literature was evolving in the pages of newspapers throughout the 19th century, Xhosa 'imbongi' (oral poets) continued to exercise their craft seemingly unaffected by encroaching literacy. This paper addresses the following questions: What was the Xhosa 'imbongi' response to the book? How did indigenous Xhosa literary technology (oral tradition) view the foreign white literary technology (the print media)? It shows that Xhosa traditions of praise poetry have not succumbed to the perceived threat of literacy and the culture of the printed book over two centuries of coexistence. The article first examines the depiction of the book in 19th-century Xhosa praise poetry, and then considers the case of two literate 20th-century poets, Nontsizi Mgqwetho, a Christian woman writing in Johannesburg, and David Yali-Manisi, a prolific author but also an 'imbongi'. Bibliogr., notes, ref.