S. E. K. MQHAYI
THE TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THE WRITINGS OF S. E. K. MQHAYI.
1) The first prose and poetry of S. E. K Mqhayi to appear in print was written under the pseudonym of "Imbongi Yakwe Gompo" (The Poet of Gompo). It appeared in pages of of Izwi Labantu (The Voice of the People), of which he was sub-editor from 1897 to 1900 and 1906 to it demise in 1909.
(Izwi Labantu was founded by Nathaniel Cyril Umhalla and Allan Kirkland Soga and others in 1897 as a counter-weight to the accelerating conservatism and the reactionary politics of John Tengo Jabavu's newspaper Imvo Zabantsundu [African Opinion]. The prefigurations of the historical consciousness of African Nationalism that began appearing in Izwi Labantu was to find full expression in the 1940s as 'New' African Nationalism of the ANC Youth League [Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, walter Sisulu, Jordan Kush Ngubane and others] in Inkundla ya Bantu [Bantu Forum]).
2) It was while contributing prose and poems to Imvo Zabantsundu in the 1920s that S. E. K. Mqhayi was designated as "Imbongi Yesizwe Jikelele' (National Poet) in all probability by D. D. T. Jabavu, the son of the founder of this newspaper.
(It was through his writings in this newspaper that S. E. K. Mqhayi began to establish his reputation as the greatest exponent of African Literature in the African languages and as arguably the greatest South African poet in the first half of the twentieth-century. It was while as editor for two years in the early 1920s that S. E. K. Mqhayi published the early writings of J. J. R. Jolobe and Guybon Bundlwana Sinxo, who in most of the twentieth-century were to be the major figures of Xhosa literature).
3) The writings and poetry of S. E. K. Mqhayi in Umteteli wa Bantu (The Mouthpiece of the People) from the late 1920s to the middle of the 1930s under the pseudonym of "Nzulu Lwazi" (Inestimable Knowledge) consolidated his reputation as the exemplary poet of the New African Movement to younger intellectuas, writers and artists such as Nontsizi Mgqwetto, Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, A. C. Jordan, Walter M. B. Nhlapo and others.
(From the moment of its founding in May 1920, Umteteli wa Bantu, particularly through the intellectual voice of R. V. Selope Thema, became the intellectual forum of New African modernity within the New African Movement. Assembled in its pages were critical and poetic writings of a group of New African intellectuals whose brilliance arguably in the whole of South African cultural history in the twentieth-century was never to be surpassed: S. E. K. Mqhayi himself, Henry Selby Msimang, Allan Kirkland Soga, Solomon T. Plaatje, Mark S. Radebe, S. M. Bennett Ncwana, H. I. E. Dhlomo, to name just a few. In its pages the question of the historical experience of modernity began to be broached: the dialectic of modernity and tradition; the dialectic between New African modernity and New Negro modernity; the dialectic between modernity and literary modernism. The discovery in the 1980s by Jeff Opland in its pages the poems of Nontsizi Mgqwetto writtten in the 1920s has further enhanced the reputation of the newspaper.)
4) The last flowering period of S. E. K. Mqhayi's intellectual productivity, in the form of poems and prose pieces, were published in the Bantu World in the late 1930s. R. V. Selope Thema was the editor of this newspaper from its founding in 1932 to 1952.
(In the 1930s R. V. Selope Thema made the Bantu World the training ground for many New African intellectuals who in later decades were to become brilliant journalists and outstanding newspaper editors: R. R. R. Dhlomo, Jordan Kush Ngubane, Henry Nxumalo, H. I. E. Dhlomo, Walter M. B. Nhlapo. Three of his acolytes were to become the editors of the two most brilliant New African newspapers of the 1940s: the Dhlomo brothers in regard to Ilanga lase Natal, and Jordan K. Ngubane in regard to Inkundla ya Bantu. Henry Nxumalo was to be the major journalistic voice in Drum magazine in the 1950s; he was from time to time deputy editor of the monthly. Walter M. B. Nhlapo, in collaboration with Ezekiel Mphahlele who was to become the literary editor of Drum magazine, founded a literary and political journal called The Voice of Africa [September 1949 to June 1952]. It was in the pages of Bantu World that S. E. K. Mqhayi had a profound impact on his younger colleagues of the New African Movement: all of whom when the great Xhosa poet died in 1945, including A. C. Jordan and Benedict wallet Vikakazi, placed him as the literary bridgehead between tradition and modernity. In this sense, R. V. Selope Thema was critical in preserving the enormous legacy of S. E. K. Mqhayi for future generations.)
5) Some of the poems which had appeared in the aforementioned newspaper were assembled in a slim volume of poetry called I-Nzuzo (1942, Reward). This anthology is extremely minuscule in relation to the outstanding voluminous poetry S. E. K. Mqhayi wrote over many decades. In this context, the 1945 obituary essay of A. C. Jordan argued that the prose of the greatest exponent of Xhosa literature was greater than his poetry, is understandable. Two earlier anthologies, with prodigious representation of the poetry of Mqhayi, casts doubts on such a viewpoint: Walter Benson Rubusana's landmark anthology of 1906, Zemk' inkomo magwalandini (The Cattle are Departing, You Cowards); and W. G. Bennie's anthology of 1935, Imibengo (Titbits).
6) The poems of S. E. K. Mqhayi that are assembled in Walter Benson Rubusana's Zemk' inkomo magwalandini (1906, Lovedale Press).
7) S. E. K. Mqhayi's autobiographical essay that appeared in Diedrich Westermann's German book Afrikaner erzahlen ihr Leben (1938). The autobiographical sketch aoppeared under the following title: "Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi: ein sudafrikanischer Dichter".
(This was a German translation of the English of the original text that was written in Xhosa. Mqhayi's original version was published after the German publication: U-Mqhayi wase-Ntab'ozuko [Mhayi of the Mount of Glory, Lovedale Press, 1939]. The English translation was rendered by the eminent Xhosa scholar W. G. Bennie and was published approximately forty years later: A Short Autobiography of Samuel Krune Mqhayi [Rhodes University, 1976]. Both the German and English translations were abridged versions of the Xhosa original.)
8) It was the publication of S. E. K. Mqhayi's novella Ityala-Lama
Wele in 1914 that established his intellectual and literary
reputation throughout South Africa: Ityala lama-wele: ngamazwembezwembe
akwaGxulume ([The Court Case of the Twins and Other Stories] Lovedale
Mission Press, 1914).
9) S. E. K. Mqhayi was also a renowned biographer. One of his esteemed text in this generic form is the following: U-John Knox Bokwe ([The Life of reverand John Knox Bokwe], Lovedale Mission Press, 1925.) Tragically two biographical manuscripts by S. E. K. Mqhayi of two important New African intellectuals are lost: Elijah Makiwane and Walter Benson Rubusana.
10) S. E. K. Mqhayi wrote poetry for school children. Some of these poems were collated together in the following book: Imihobe nemibongo yokufundwa ezikolweni ([Xhosa poetry for schools] The Sheldon Press, London, 1927.)
11) Besides being a short story writer, among many other things, S. E. K. Mqhayi was also a novelist as the following novel testifies to this fact: U-Don Jadu: UkuHamba yimFundo ([Don Jadu] Lovedale Mission Press, 1929.)
12) S. E. K. Mqhayi expressed his creativity also through translations from English and Afrikaans into Xhosa.
(Mqhayi translated a large portion of Edwin S. Smith's Aggrey of Africa (New York, 1929) into Xhosa: U-Aggrey Um-Afrika (The Sheldon Press, London, 1935).
13) Translated from Afikaans G. C. and S. B. Hobson's Kees van die Kalahari into Xhosa: U-Adonisi Wasentlango: Ixulwe Kumabali Adumileyo (Lovedale Mission Press, 1945.
14) A Special Issue of South African
Outlook was published in December 1975 in centennial celebration of
the great poet: S. E. K. Mqhayi.