Original Research

A depiction of Maphalla’s message in his poems: The case of Ke ikopela tokoloho and Mahlo a ka tutuboloha

Ntsoaki T. Mokala, Soyiso G. Khethoa
Literator | Vol 44, No 1 | a1978 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v44i1.1978 | © 2023 Ntsoaki T. Mokala, Soyiso G. Khethoa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 November 2022 | Published: 30 November 2023

About the author(s)

Ntsoaki T. Mokala, Department of Languages, Literacies and Literatures, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Soyiso G. Khethoa, Department of African Languages, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


In this article, we argue that KPD Maphalla’s poems were very influential in portraying protest to different forms of social oppression and exclusion in South Africa and Africa at large. Therefore, as a writer who was subjected to racial segregation during the apartheid regime, he positioned himself as a social poet concerned about the sociopolitical situation of Africans in Africa. The article illustrates how Maphalla’s use of tone and attitude towards racial discrimination has shown his ability to choose style in articulating a clear sociopolitical protest. This strategy has helped to make his readers aware of the social anomalies of his time, while condemning moral degeneration of that era. Therefore, this article provides an analysis of two poems from his book entitled Kgapha tsa ka: Mahlo a ka tutuboloha (My eyes open) and Ke ikopela tokoholo (I am asking for freedom), to understand the influence of the selected poems that are constructed in the form of protest. A historical-biographical criticism framework was employed in this case study to unravel the sociopolitical influence of his work towards the fight for freedom in South Africa. It is a qualitative explorative study, which uses purposive sampling to show how he portrays the theme of protest in his poems. Content analysis was used to analyse data guided by interpretivist paradigm.

Contribution: This article fills a knowledge gap in Sesotho analysis. The article further contributes by highlighting Maphalla’s stance toward overcoming prejudice against black people. The article confirms that Maphalla, through his poetry, has played an important role in acting as a spokesperson for black people, and their freedom in South Africa.


social oppression; sociopolitical protest; KPD Maphalla; postcolonial struggle; African poetry; critical discourse analysis


Total abstract views: 585
Total article views: 325

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.