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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The first novel in Xhosa
Author:Opland, JeffISNI
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Geographic term:South Africa
Xhosa language
literary history
About person:Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (1875-1945)ISNI
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/research_in_african_literatures/v038/38.4opland.pdf
Abstract:The first novel in the Xhosa language, 'USamson' (Samson), written by the greatest figure in the history of Xhosa literature, S.E.K. Mqhayi (1875-1945), and published in South Africa in 1907, is now lost. Despite its disappearance, 'USamson' can be firmly established as the first novel in Xhosa, it can be located within a historical and literary context, and some aspects of its content can be reconstructed from the correspondence columns of contemporary Xhosa newspapers. It was produced at a time when black people in South Africa were becoming bolder in their demand for human rights, forming independent black churches and political organizations. It appeared after a period of gestation for Xhosa literature in newspapers, at a time when missionaries were discussing the publication of books in Xhosa, but Mqhayi paid for its printing and organized its distribution. The novelette added details of setting and characterization to the biblical story to encourage the youth to gather behind black leaders who lacked support. Caught in the social tension between Xhosa and Mfengu, 'USamson' was heavily criticized by I.W. Wauchope for departing from biblical narrative, but more generally defended by readers, who looked forward to the further publication of Xhosa literature in books. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]