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poet muses: Nontsizi Mgqwetho

9 July 2013 poet muses Comments Off on poet muses: Nontsizi Mgqwetho
Poetry Potion 2013.02 Every Generation

Imbongikazi ya kwa Chizama

Nontsizi Mqwetho, imbongikazi ya kwa Chizama, exploded onto the scene in 1920 when her poems were published in the Xhosa-language newspaper Umteteli wa Bantu. The poems, written in isiXhosa, were “swaggering, urgent, confrontational woman’s poetry”. Her poems continued to appear in the newspaper regularly throughout the three years from 1924 to 1926. Two final poems including, Zemk’Inkomo Zetafa – Vula Ndingene!, appeared in December 1928 and January 1929, then there was silence.

Although very little is known by this poet, the poetry she left immediately claims for her the status of one of the greatest literary artists ever to write in Xhosa. She is a strong anguished voice of an urban woman confronting male dominance, ineffective leadership, black apathy, white malice and indifference, economic exploitation and a history of nineteenth-century territorial and cultural dispossession.

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