Guns, spears and pens : the role of the Echo poems in the political conflict in the Natal Midlands.
This thesis sets out to examine the role of the poems in Echo (a supplement to the Natal Witness) that were published between 1986 and 1994. I will be exploring these poems in the light of the political conflict that was taking place between Inkatha, on the one hand, and the United Democratic Front/Congress ofSouth African Trade Unions (UDF/COSATU), and later on the African National Congress (ANC), on the other. The introductory chapter will deal with the scope ofmy research. It will outline what it is that I will be researching and the direction of my research. I will also begin to introduce some of the key theoretical assumptions around izibongo (praise poetry) and some of its key definitions as a dominant tradition that influenced some of the Echo poets. Chapter Two will deal with the history of the Echo Poetry Corner itself. It looks at its early beginnings, who conceived the idea and why, and what the editorial policy of this page was. It will also shed some light on how complex issues, such as the originality and authenticity of the poems, were dealt with. The third chapter deals with the background to the political conflict in the Natal Midlands and in Pietermaritzburg in particular. It will be an analysis of violence, its origins and its interpretations, and will show how violence affected the people and the poets around Pietermaritzburg. In Chapter Four I will begin to critically analyse the poems, looking at various themes that were expressed in the poems. I will also define the role that these poems played in the political conflict, looking at whether they engaged with the reality of the time or tried to escape it. In conclusion, Chapter Five deals with my findings on the role that the Echo poems played during the political conflict. It will also address the issue of the role of the poet or poetry in a violent society. The positive role of poetry during war will also be dealt with.