Sotho poetry book gets nod from Free State University



Published Jun 10, 2024


South African essayist, poet, cultural worker and social critic, Mphutlane wa Bofelo’s latest book of poems, Ya lla Koriana Azania, Ditheko, Dithotokiso le Dithoholetso to an appreciative book crowd at the Lit Culture Books in Maboneng Precinct last week.

The launch was attended by the likes of Jaki Seroke and poet Kgafela oa Mogogodi and many other poets and writers.

Speaking during the launch, director of information and library services at the University of Free State, Jeannet Malopyane said the university is happy to play a meaningful role in uplifting indigenous languages.

“As the publisher of this book, the University of Free State languages and library services, we are happy and proud that our stories are going to be recognised and recorded through this book. We want to see more and more of this to ensure that our people do not struggle to read works published in their own languages.

“People struggle to access our indigenous languages which is why the university established this publishing arm which seen books being translated to Swahili and other indigenous languages,” she said.

Speaking to The Star, wa Bofelo indicated that the book is divided into four sections which tackles the traditions of Black Africans as well as the political landscape.

“The book is divided into four sections each tackling different African traditions and ways of life and the socio-political conditions of a pre colonial Africa and the importance of cattle in the lives of black people and Africans in particular. It is about telling the story of black people who were land owners and farmers who were eventually turned into wage earners by the system of dispossession,” he said.

Another section, wa Bofelo says covers the melodies of African people and their music.

“There is a section that draws on the music of South African people. It draws on old songs and song by contemporary musicians. There are songs that are drawn from the music of the late Philip Tabane, the music of Madala Kunene and others. The Basotho people use the accordion and there the title of the book says Yalla Koriana which translates to the sound of the accordion,” he said.

Another section, wa Bofelo says is a philosophical section which depicts the scientific and philosophical realities of the black people of South Africa.

“It is a myth that we cannot talk philosophy and politics through African languages. The last section is about love and romantic poems. Again, people think that English or French are the only languages of love. But that is not true,” he said.