The work and legacy of Sesotho writer Thomas Mofolo

Dunton and Krog are to edit for peer review and publication a set of papers delivered at a conference held in Lesotho on the work of Sesotho writer Thomas Mofolo. Mofolo wrote the first novel ever in an indigenous language in Sub-Saharan Africa. His third novel “Chaka” had been chosen by the 1998 Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare as not only one of the top 100 books written by Africans in the twentieth century, but also one of the top ten, making him the only South African writer on the list with Achebe, Soyinka, Ba, Mahfouz, Senghor, Ngugi wa Thiongo and Diop, amongst others, as well as the only writer who exclusively wrote in an indigenous language.

Despite this honour, the book has not been treated well or discussed with nearly the same level of scholarship as e.g. “Story of an African Farm”, and had especially been (mis)diagnosed as nothing but an anti-nguni tale.

The conference provided a platform where people with indigenous knowledge and skills around Sesotho and Zulu, for the first time participated with international scholars in the discourse around the work of Mofolo based on the original text. (Several important scholars have worked on Mofolo, but none of them speak Sesotho or worked from the Sesotho).

The papers will contribute greatly to the presentation of new voices and perspectives on the work, while the voices of some younger scholars who have not yet published, will be heard.

Project leader(s):
  • Antjie Krog (University of the Western Cape)
  • Chris Dunton – visiting scholar (National University of Lesotho)

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