D.L.P. Yali-Manisi

Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems

Edited by: Jeff Opland, Pamela Maseko

Contributions by: Jeff Opland, Pamela Maseko

David Livingstone Phakamile Yali-Manisi (1926-1999) was a Thembu imbongi, the most powerful exponent of the art of praise poetry in the Xhosa language in the second half of the 20th century. His literary career, however, was blighted by circumstances beyond his control, and he died in total obscurity. Manisi was obliged to seek his audiences throughout the lifetime of South Africa's reviled policy of apartheid; and, the poet's reputation, initially full of promise, waned as a consequence. He was a lifelong supporter of Nelson Mandela and the author of the earliest poem in praise of Mandela (1954), but he was never able to fulfill his ambition of performing a poem in honor of Mandela in a liberated South Africa. Manisi exhibited a marked penchant for extending the panegyric mode of the imbongi into explicit narrative. He also displayed an astonishing capacity to compose poetry in the act of performance. This volume presents eight of his narrative poems, in isiXhosa and in English translation. Four poems are drawn from his earliest published books, together with the complete text of his epic poem on the War of Mlanjeni, published in 1983. Also included are three remarkable spontaneous poems produced with little forethought. The poems address events of the 19th century, and feature blunt assessments of figures such as Ntsikana, Ngqika, Nonesi, Sandile, Sir Harry Smith, Nongqawuse, and Sir George Grey. David Yali-Manisi ardently anticipated the restoration of black control under those imprisoned on Robben Island; fighters for liberty, quite as heroic as the crane-feathered warriors of the 19th century. His poetry, both written and performed, plumbed the past to inspire resistance to present injustices. (Series: Publications of the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature - Vol. 2) [Subject: African Studies, History, Literary Criticism, Poetry]

Publication Date: 4/1/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781869142834