Original Research

B.W. Vilakazi and the birth of the Zulu novel

N.N. Canonici
Literator | Vol 31, No 2 | a45 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v31i2.45 | © 2010 N.N. Canonici | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2010 | Published: 13 July 2010

About the author(s)

N.N. Canonici, School of IsiZulu Studies, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

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B.W. Vilakazi is rightly famous for his Zulu poems that integrate the Zulu creative genius with established European poetic trends. He was also the creator of the Zulu romantic novel, having written the first three examples of the genre dealing with both personal and national romantic ideals. These are, however, seldom analysed. This article reflects on the emerging literatures in African languages, their aims, contents and forms. After a general introduction on Vilakazi’s life and innovative approach to creative writing within the context of the African mini-renaissance period of the 1930s, there is a brief exposition of Vilakazi’s vision of an African literature, rooted in the need for self-identification, and recognition of perceived historical greatness. Then each novel is contextualised and analysed, through a description of the characters that exert the greatest influence on the events, since plot and character are also the highest achievement of the folktale, when told by expert performers. An attempt is also made to identify Afro-centric narrative elements and to justify perceived shortcomings in plot construction.


African Elite Story; African Romanticism; Converts And Traditionalists; Use Of Magic; Reusable Past And National Identity; Parallel Construction Plot; Polygamy


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