Original Research

Reclaiming lost ground – the history play in Zulu

H.C. Groenewald
Literator | Vol 25, No 1 | a250 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v25i1.250 | © 2004 H.C. Groenewald | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2004 | Published: 31 July 2004

About the author(s)

H.C. Groenewald, Department of African Languages, Rand Afrikaans University, Auckland Park, South Africa

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This article briefly sketches the history of African-language literatures as initiated by missionaries and formed by Bantu education. Against this background the aim of this article is to establish what the objectives of Zulu dramatists were when they presented historical fact, flawed history, as well as ideological sentiment in their historical plays. Are history plays in Zulu simply the products of writers whose objective was to meet a publisher’s requirements, namely to extend the dramatic genre by writing history plays? Did authors perhaps only have an educational objective, that is, to provide learners with setwork material? If, on the other hand, the history play is the creation of a memory for a specific purpose, as post-colonial theorists suggest, the next objective of this article is to establish what kind of memory Zulu dramatists have created and for what purpose. The history plays will be discussed under the following topics: UNodumehlezi kaMenzi – He who is famous as he sits, son of Menzi (King Shaka). In exploring aspects of Shaka’s rule, it becomes clear that writers express their pain about the great loss the Zulu nation suffered when the Shakan era passed. The second topic treats Izwe lidungekile – The land is in turmoil. The dramas dealt with here vividly depict the pitiful state of the Zulu after their subjugation by the British empire, leading eventually to an inevitable option – armed resistance. The third and last topic, Izwe ngelethu – The land is ours – treats the issue of land.


Historical Drama; Memory; Retrospective; Reconstruction Of Historical Facts; Zulu Drama


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