What better honor can we give to a great writer than to keep his work alive for the instruction of the coming generations?
The impact of Mazisi Kunene in the world of literature in Indigenous languages and to Southern Afrika in particular is immensely valuable.
Despite the fact that Kunene served as a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles for 19 years, he continued to write in his native IsiZulu.
He was appointed South Africa’s Poet Laureate in 1993 and MNET awarded him the MNET Lifetime Achievement Award before he passed away in EThekwini’s Entabeni Hospital. The road the hospital stands on is now named after him.
Before meeting the Honorable elder Poet at a creative writing workshop around the year 2004, I had been in search of his books; such as Amalokotho KaNomkhubulwane and his famous Anthem of The Decades, where he sings praises to the contributions of Afrikan women to civilization, I had just finished reading his definitive work Emperor Shaka the , published in 1979.
Here are the opening lines to Emperor Shaka the Great:
Great anthem, by your power break the
boundaries of our horizons;
Fill the wide expanse of the earth with
your legendary songs!
Say then: people have power, people
tear the garments of the night;
By their feet, they scar the grounds with
All hail! The celebrants of the feast have
The Ancestors follow them,
Whispering: ‘A great festival is to be
repeated again and again!’
Generation after generation comes here
Here they are our Forefathers. They rise from the mist.
Striding across the earth to nowhere,
Calling the name that invokes the
sacred ones of the festival.
All hail to the trembling rivers of the
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