Original Research

A philosophical interpretation of the significance of oral forms in I. Mabasa’s novel Mapenzi (1999)

D.E. Mutasa, I. Mutawi
Literator | Vol 29, No 3 | a130 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v29i3.130 | © 2008 D.E. Mutasa, I. Mutawi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 July 2008 | Published: 25 July 2008

About the author(s)

D.E. Mutasa, Department of African Languages, Unisa, Pretoria, South Africa
I. Mutawi, Department of African Languages & Literature, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe

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The article critically analyses the use of Shona oral art forms in I. Mabasa’s novel “Mapenzi” (“Mad people”/“Foolish people”). It departs from the realisation that the writer identifies with Shona people’s oral experiences in the form of songs, “bembera” (satiric poetry) and folktales among others. These oral art forms provide the means by which the writer overcomes both selfcensorship and real or imagined state censorship. The article advances the argument that Mabasa uses the Shona people’s oral art forms in a manner that is ideologically and pedagogically empowering. This is consistent with the value thrust of Shona people’s epistemological assumptions. The article comes to the conclusion that Mabasa’s vision in the novel “Mapenzi” maintains the line between tradition and continuity.


Hope; Liberation; I Mabasa; Mapenzi; Oppression; Shona African Oral Art


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Crossref Citations

1. Universal, Normative, and Indispensable: Exploring the Emphasis on Eurocentric Literary-Critical Perspectives in the Criticism of the Black Zimbabwean Novel
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doi: 10.1177/0021934718798256