Conscientisation : a motive behind the selected poems of Sepamla, Serote, Gwala and Mtshali.
The thesis looks at how the poets Sepamla, Serote, Gwala and Mtshali (SSGM) make concerted efforts to demonstrate how different forms of social activities have sought to whitewash black people in believing myths about themselves. These myths were perpetuated by the government of apartheid policies and its related bureaucratic organs like the education system. The fallacies were also communicated through biased literature and denigrating terminologies. The study analyses how the selected poems of SSGM set out to conscientize black people to realise how they had unconsciously accepted certain behaviours. This had led them to compare themselves to the “privileged cultures” and to strive to be identified with those who were in power and those who were despised and were therefore powerless. The main aim of this study is to demonstrate how the poetry of Sepamla, Serote, Gwala and Mtshali exposed the extent to which black people had been psychologically subjected to internalising negative views of who they were. From the title of the thesis we note a claim that conscientization was the motive behind the poetry of Sepamla, Serote, Gwala, and Mtshali. This claim was discerned from the poetry that was analysed. It was also deemed fit to verify this through structured interviews and questionnaires that were arranged and conducted with the poets. However the interviews did not include the late Sepamla who had been called to higher service by the time the research was conducted. The researcher’s interactions with the poets confirmed the claim that conscientization was indeed the motive behind their poetry. Aspects of peoples’ lives which had been targeted as tools for disempowering black people were experienced in the form of racism, apartheid policies, Bantustan institutions, and laws, demeaning terminologies, cultural superiority, and prejudiced beliefs, arts, music, literature, theatre and sport. An analysis of the poetry under review led to the conclusion that the poetry of SSGM was not protest poetry as some scholars had claimed. The aim of the poetry was not to instigate any militancy against oppressors but to make black people aware of their identity and to affirm them in their resistance against cultural hegemony. The study makes use of Marxist theories and specifically cites those aspects which relate to the tools used to analyse the poetry of SSGM. Georg Lukacs’s viewpoint that literature reflects the social reality of its time is applied to some of the selected poetry. Eagleton and Althusser talk about the formalization of literature which makes ideology to become visible to the reader. Gramsci says the task of producing and disseminating ideology is performed by organic intellectuals. Writers are regarded as organic intellectuals. In spite of the limiting circumstances the four black writers whose poetry is being considered, managed to conscientize people around issues that needed to be opposed or rejected. This study is significant in so far as it exposed how poetry of black selected writers conscientized people and indirectly contributed to the liberation of the oppressed in South Africa. It is suggested that further studies are undertaken to re-assess the role of literature written by the black writers during the apartheid regime. A special attention must be given to those literary works that were banned and reasons for such action by those who were hell bent on subjugating black people. One of the challenges encountered during the research was that some of the books were out of print. However, a thorough and persistent search did result in the final access to those books which were not easily available.
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