poet muses: BW Vilakazi poet (1906 – 1947)

Poetry Potion | December 21st, 2013 | current issue, poet muses | No Comments


ngoba ngimamatheka njalo
ngikhombisa nokwenama,
ngihlabelela nemphimbo,
nom’ ungifik’ emgodini
ngaphansi kwezinganeko
zamatsh’ aluhlaz’ omhlaba
sewuthi nginjengnsika
Yon’ engezwa nabuhlungu

Born in the same year of the Bambatha revolt against poll-taxes, BW’s full name was Bambatha Wallet Vilakazi, until the first name was changed to Benedict while he was a student at the Catholic Mariannhill mission in the 1920s. B.W.’s fist collection of poetry, Inkondlo kaZulu was published by Wits University Press in 1935 where he was Bantu Languages Assistant. It was the first book of Zulu poems to be published. Amal’eZulu was published ten years alter, also by Wits Press.

BW was the first African to receive a doctorate in literature. He chose to write in Zulu. He was distinguishd for his innovative use and adaptation of izibongo. He used symbols and images that were culture-specific yet modern. He was highly respected by his contemporaries such as HIE Dhlomo.

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