Join me this Sunday as we talk about the life and work of Mazisi Kunene and read from the public domain version of: Emperor Shaka the Great – A Zulu Epic.
Mazisi Kunene who has died aged 76, was one of Africa’s greatest poets and literary icons.
He was a talented writer whose inspiration was the history of Zulu people, the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and the oral tradition of African literature.
He was as cosmopolitan as he was nationalistic, espousing an African literary and cultural ethos as the likes of Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo and Wole Soyinka.
Kunene’s works were originally written in Zulu before they were translated into other languages. He believed that true African literature must be written in African languages. The problem about writing in a foreign language, he said, is that one is not in control of it and its psychology.
He regarded the affirmation of an African aesthetic, especially with regard to poetics, as an important dimension of the freedom of African people, on the continent and in the diasporas, from the degrading stereotypes and literary pretensions of the West.
Kunene stressed that his literary goal is the re-telling of African history in a way he believed would make it relevant and authentic to the non-African.
But he was not only a celebrated writer, he was also a political activist and a staunch supporter and a leader within the military wing of the ANC in the days of apartheid. (excerpt from ‘Literary Icon and Anti-Apartheid Campaigner.’ NewBlackmagazine. Shola Adenekan. 2009)