The ruler, the king, or the political leader, who is traditionally conceived as the centre and 'symbol of the unity' of the community (Krige 1936: 224; cf. As soon as 'the same set of ideals and values' is no longer followed by ruler and ruled, the balancing function ceases and forces the imbongi to take sides in a fight between the two -in this, the imbongi is obliged to side with the people (1967: 221). And the order that is affirmed might indeed be called 'traditional authority,' but with inverted meaning: flexible, created by social discourse and, in a way, the power of the people. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press. Appiah, K.A. Whether a 'chief' was really in power was often unclear in the times of white political supremacy (cf. 24 Both foci of power, 'chief' and 'party leader' have often been present in personal union (e.g. Barber, K. and P.F. It is only when discussion starts out from within the internal dynamics of knowledge that the sensitive issue of power in the representation of social knowledge in other cultures can be analysed (cf. ZULU PRAISE-POEMS AND HISTORY Izibongo, Zulu Praise-poems. 'Poetic licence' and wlzat it irivolves, This principle is apparent in all the various forms of Southern African praise poetry, in such a way that the performance of praise-poetry implies socio- regulative commitment as one major aspect (Vail 6r White 1991). Symbols in African ritual. l2 'Magical' here marks the shift of meaning that poetical language is able to effect, through the sensitive choice of apposite terms employed to reconstruct life, which, when successful, creates the impression of presence. In Anthropolog)~ of Art and Aestlzetics, ed. As praise-poetry, this is one of the four major genres of izosha, Zulu oral poetry (Vilakazi 1938). The latter creates a 'real' rebellion and is the legitimate way to dispose of a ruler who has violated the principles of responsible rulership, 'the tradition of good rule' (Gluckman 1940: 42) -what I shall present and discuss later as 'reasonable rulership.' 1990. In Barber and de Moraes Farias (1989), pp. The imbongi has a special social responsibility, since his art has a central normative function in mediating power in two opposite ways. This notion is presented as the conceptual normative centre of a historically jlexible tradition of reasonable socio-regulative discourse, in which potentially every member of society participates. This, l6 In practice, it could probably prevent a violation of these principles as little as any, valid social principle of justice can. The recital of the izibongo of a deceased, which are the individual praises that a person has earned or been given during lifetime, is a necessary condition -next to the sacrifice of an animal -for propitiating the ancestor (Cope 1968: 19). 4. For the role of wornen as composers and performers of izibongo,see Gunner (1979; 1995). Izibonqo zamakhosi . Journal of Contemporary African Studies 10 (2): 24-43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. -. Post navigation . The poetical reconstruction of social reality includes a metaphorical account of the basis for the reference-point of this reconstruction, a social critique. Izibongo: Zulu praise-poems. The notable ambiguity of poetical language makes poetry a perfectly effective medium for balancing conflicting social forces and opinions. Zulu Folk Poetry. In other words, consensus here states that social discourse is responsible for itself: from an internal point of view, the reasonability -either of reasoning or of power-orientated strategies can be viewed, contested and reformulated. Brown 1996). 2.2 The pegormative art of praise-poetry Izibongo, and specifically the izibongo of rulers, are regarded within Zulu society as 'the highest literary expression' (M. Kunene 1976: 28).5 This literary aspect must be acknowledged, although it cannot be dealt with here in its own right. KAI KRESSE can be corltacted at Departmerlt of the Languages arld Cultures of Africa, SOAS, Tlzortzhaugh Street, Lotzdorl WClH OXG, or by emuil to kk28@soas.ac.uk . '3 Izibongo, meaning 'praise names' or 'praise poem' (a collection of praise names), is a pluralis tantutn built from isibongo.Vilakazi (ibid.) Emmett, T. 1979. 49-56. The praises centred on the leader of the clan. PART I . Izibongo. Apart. In Froit? In Barber and da Moraes Farias (1989), pp. Thus, it is never the aspect of freedom of speech alone which is emphasized in the concept of 'poetic licence'; freedorn of speech and obligation to truth are two sides of the same coin, i.e. Because even those of your maternal uncle's family you kill, Because you killed Bhebhe son of Ncumela of your ~naternal uncle's family. by H. Odera Oruka and D.A. Appiah 1997), is itself constituted by interrelations with other fields of social communication. Shona Praise Poetry. Oxford: Blackwell. Cambridge: University Press. Nyembezi, C.L.S. In Literature and Society in South Africa, ed. Izibongo: Zulu Praise-poems James Stuart, Anthony Trevor Cope Snippet view - 1968. Vail & White 1991). Izibongo are central to the local language of politics; not only do they belong to an esteemed genre of verbal art, they are also recognized as an important medium of political discourse, reflecting and re-influencing the current political atmosphere within Zulu communities. 1959. turning potential into specific meaning, can never be precluded from the outset. I have been careful to draw specifically from statements made from within society; from there, the complex web of izibongo of course appears more alive, and can, in a self-conscioius way, be presented in its various shades, as artistic, political, religious, historical and also 'philosophical' (Dhlomo 1977, M. Kunene 1976). defined by a set of predetermined actions (Bloch 1989; Turner 1977: 183). the appearance, in 1968, of Cope's book on Zulu oral poetry (izibongo), for example, Douglas Mzolo9 has contributed significantly to our knowledge of Zulu 7 G . 85-128. Africa South 3 (2): 74-79. In New Writing from South Africa, ed. 303-312. Wiredu 1997). The general ideological aim of izibongois directed at the creation of identity, keeping society together, the subjects true to the current ruler. It might sound odd, but -if the descriptions I have relied upon are adequate -in a sense a basic political principle of the famously authoritarian and ruler-centred Zulu society can plausibly be presented as being rooted in a kind of sovereignity of the people. He who is as big as his country, enormous one. Trevor Cope, éd., Izibongo. 1989. Although Gluckman was aware of the principle we have arrived at, the king's obligation to 'the tradition of good rule' (1940: 42) which is socially defined, he never interpreted it, as it is done from within Zulu society, as representing 'social order' built up by 'egalitarian principles' (M. Kunene 1979: ~xiii).2~. In both cases, past life is re-presented as 'being there.' Hodza, A.C. and G. Fortune. The irnbongi is at the same time a sort of special advisor or counsellor to the king, whom he traditionally had to stay and live near (ibid. This socially defined general standard of social behaviour is directly linked to the principle of reasoizable rulership: as long as the ruler adheres to such a general standard, his rule, in full authority, is granted and supported by the people. 1977. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of London. L'explication fonctionnaliste de Trevor Cope (« engager à se comporter conformément aux modèles approuvés ») laisse entier un problème dont son livre accroît d'ailleurs encore l'intérêt. A chief visits town. -. The role of the bard in a contemporary African community. C'est aussi à Trevor Cope qu'on doit les deux chapitres introductifs consacrés respectivement à l'histoire des Zoulou et à l'étude du genre poétique, les commentaires historiques et littéraires très précis placés en tête de chaque groupe de deux ou trois poèmes d'une même période, et les notes abondantes en cours de texte. (b) to contribute to a socially accepted, just progression of social life, leads to izibongo being regarded as documenting and forming a self-descriptive and normative social discourse of Zulu society. PRAISE-POEMS, by T. Cope and MUSHO! Consequently, from an analysis and discussion of izibongoas a flexible tradition of formalized, poetical speech linked to reasonable principles, it follows that 'traditional authority' itself should not, as has been argued, be understood per se as static and fixed (cf. 1996. -. Thereby, some rulers of the 'homelands' created by the doctrine of apartheid attempted to totalize their specific political outlook and suppress controversial political utterances -which would again be presented in izibongo. de Moraes Farias (eds.). London: Heinemann. The basis of Bantu literature. 1976. There, as I want to stress, the art of praising is the art of criticizing, particularly in regard to the ruler, and this has important political implications. x+230. He is 'a mediator between two social categories, the ruler and the ruled' (Mafeje 1967: 221). Jordan (1959: 101). Nairobi: Bookwise. Brief History of the Zulu Kingdom; Izibongo zeNkosi eNkulu u Shaka kaSenzangakhona kaJama, uZULU!!! Thus, in a kind of aesthetic enactment, ceremonial action is said to 'signalize' a temporary capacity within the community, whereas ritual action 'symbolizes' underlying, ahistorical. In their task of achieving an adequate depiction of society, apart from truth and justice, izibongo also transmit the powerful and the reasonable as defined by current social discourse. London: Cohen & West. The ever-competing discourses of power and reason are inherent in this multi-layered topograplzy of society created by poetry. It is, in my opinion, not helpful to call this process mystical, magical, or specifically ritualistic, for in its varying emphasis of meaning, it relies on the poetical force of each specific performance. Thus, the characteristic trait of izibongo,affirming identity in a multifarious verbal 'picture,' is underlined and enforced from various angles: social reality in this picture encompasses truth, justice, ideology and reasonability. Rebellion is conceived as a positive action, a kind of self-cleansing of society, since it is in the attack on the person of the ruler that the traditionally valid principle of good rulership is reaffirmed. The Political Art of Praising: Poetical Socio-Regulative Discourse in Zulu Society, No tags found. xiii-. Vilakazi, A. Menzi: the word means ‘Creator’ and is a praise-name of Senzangakhona, Shaka’s father. Consequently, the potential influence of the izibongo -and the irnbongi who composes and performs them -on the political dynamics of society can hardly be overestimated; in izibongothey are reflected and re-initiated. Only in the case of social crisis is a 'real' licence to action against the ruler granted, since due to his failure the sanctity of rulership is lost and has to be restored. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Schneider, pp. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 147- 160. Krige, E. 1936. In a very peculiar way, then, Zulu social identity has a liistory of being emphatically poetic as well as military. -. Later, much material was published on praise-poetry of the Tswana, Zulu, Sotho, and Shona (Shapera 1965, Cope 1968. Politics, Law and Ritual in Tribal Africa. In Ritual History and Power, idern, pp. If up to now the aspect of izibongo as a form of art has been stressed, this was to emphasize the creative aspect of the poetical construction of reality which is highly appreciated inside the society itself (Gunner 1984: 71f). Creating the verbal art of izibongoimplies the performer's resl~onsibility and accountability for his performance. The art of praising the king or the political ruler, giving a socially valid portrait of him, due to the historically central position of the ruler (Krige 1936: 218), also means giving an illustration of the current state of society. Scholars of African literature or history, however, leave little doubt in their writings as to their important role in political discourse. In African Political Systems, ed. Understood as permission for the 'institutionalized violation on ritual occasions of important rules of behaviour,' ritual licence is at the same time inherently linked to actions which are 'firmly regulated' (Norbeck 1963: 1267; 1274). Historically, rulership has changed; consequently, standards of reasonability of rulership have changed; but the underlying principle of reasonable rulership has stayed as a continuous reference-point over time. For these interactions see especially Gunner (1984) and Gunner & Gwala (1991). Tltis principle, in combination with the poet's obligation (a)to paint a full and true picture of the praised and the social life involved, arzd. Izibongo constitute a flexible tradition of interlinking art and politics in social life, based on a tradition of reason which is in itself flexible. : 173).11. However, they share with the izibongo of rulers the general aspects of mediation between history, religion and politics within their performance. Kashula, R. 1991. The respective currently valid social norms then, can be seen as permanently reformulated and publicly expressed in a potentially pluralistic discourse in which, due to the principle of 'poetic licence,' all members of society can engage. On which lived the Ndandwes and the Nxumalos. Other editions - View all. Gunner 1976: 73). Instead of the freedom to protest it really results in an obligation to consent, i.e. This role can be highlighted and considered in relation to Gluckman's works and theses, as well as with anthropological interest in political life and local theory. 40-63. In both cases, reasorlable rulership is referred to as the regulative principle for orientation, for the ideological discourse also links itself to the commonly accepted norms. Dhlomo, who called them 'the essence of our being, the meaning of our name,' and claimed that 'they can only live through us, and we through them' (1 977: 59). A sense of relevance. &$ace and basis -pe~for~nanceand political tnodcl. xi-xxiii. As the clans grew into tribes, it was the leader of the tribe who became prominent and hence his praises were sung. 1-19. Izibongo zamakhosi ; imifanekizo idwetshwe ngu. Discourse and its Disguises. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press. Grant, E.W. I think that for such a project a first necessity is careful, and empirically informed consideration of what 'consensus' means, and how it is, constituted in the specific African societies treated. 123-173. Introduction and notes to Emperor Shaka the Great: a Zulu Epic, pp. Berglund, A.-I. The continual use of izibongo, while connecting it to the new dimensions of social life, can be regarded as an example of the flexible transformation of a tradition in pre-colonial Africa, according to reasonable and pragmatic criteria. Opland, J. If such metaphoric historical dramatizations of social life within izibongo 'are to continue living' and 'be saved for posterity,' they must serve a socially bound consciousness in a historical as well as literary sense (ibid. In this way, it often leads to a dramatic representation of a current social incident which it publicly marks as noteworthy, and comments on it. The function of oral art in the regulation of social power in Dyula society. l3, (Cope 1968: 110-111) If the principle which founds and secures the possibility of such direct criticism can be called a kind of institutionalized freedom of speech, it is linked to the form of izibongo, and granted to those making use of it. Ngicela izithakazelo zakwa zulu. Killie Campbell Africana Library publications; no. 1958. The ceritral impact of the key figure of Zulu history, Shaka, on the aesthetics of poetry as well as on other aspects of social life points to the inherent interdependence between power and art in Zulu politics. If this functions well, a tradition of authority within society is initiated; this can be a tradition of, reasoning as well as a tradition of power. 25 These terms are almost exclusively used in the regulative sense, as 'norm' (Mafeje 1967:220). Historically, stanzas, like many of the stylistic traits of this poetry, seem to have been developed in the 'Shakan' period of Zulu literature, in about 1800- 1850 (Cope 1968, following M. Kunene: 50ff) -which already displays a crucial influence of the political on poetical form. For if taken seriously, it grants everyone the opportunity to speak up and present a personal version of approval or criticism of the affairs in the community. New York: Heinemann. Consequently, with the beginning of 'white rule' in South Africa, these rituals, unlike izibongo, reportedly vanished from the surface of Zulu society.21 Before, accord had been possible between ruler and the ruled, the ruler was secure in power as long as the people he represented supported him. In regard to Southern African praise-poetry, this is common practice (e.g. 55s. Find more information about: ISBN: 0198151241 9780198151241: OCLC Number: 468421: Language Note: Parallel English and Zulu text, with English commentary. contends Gluckman, acts as a socio-psychological security-valve against a fundamental breakdown of society, since a catharsis is enacted, in which energies of conflict inherent in society can be expressed and social solidarity thereby reaffirmed. 132-139. Moore, H.L. :236), as well as the documentor of the commoners' impression of the current state of affairs, giving voice to the people's feelings. Izibongo: Zulu praise-poems This edition published in 1968 by Clarendon P. in Oxford. 122- 130. A similar transformation in the use of the izibongo form can be observed in the most recent decades where the focus of reference has to a large extent undergone a shift from the ethnically bound to the national, South African realm. Gluckman developed the idea of 'licence in ritual' when observing that certain normally forbidden actions were allowed, and even required to be performed, within certain 'political' rituals.18 He classified the 'inverted action' taking place as the expression of usually suppressed protest against the ruler, who is symbolically overthrown and subjected in a ritually enacted 'rebellion.' the feminist theory (chapter 2), portrayal of Zulu women in folktales (chapter3), in proverbs (chapter 4) and praise-poetry (chapter 5). Authority, then, is placed on the limits between power and reason.lg. Opland (1984), Mafeje (1967), and Kashula, (1991, 1993) give exan~ples of Xhosa bards being harassed by the authorities for their. 63-64). actions alliteration amongst army attacked battle beast became Boers branch British brother cadence cattle caused Cetshwayo chief clan conclusion consisting construction couplets cross death defeat described destroyed devoured died Dingane Dingiswayo Durban eaten … term' (Vilakazi 1938: 106). Izibongo: Zulu Praise-poems James Stuart, Anthony Trevor Cope No preview available - 1968. His rule is thus veritably secured by his good r~ilershipwhich follows reasonable criteria established in social discourse. lo However, some ethnographers with strong missionary background working on Zulu religion and thought systems (Berglund 1976; Sundkler 1961) do not mention izibongo as a rneans ofcontacting ancestors nor do they deal with them specifically at all. Oxford: Blackwell. It is within a distinct form of expression that public social action 'against authority' is sanctioned, and an extraordinary liberty of expression granted to the person using it. by L. White and T. Couzens, pp. 25-56. by Chr. Looking at Zulu society, 'where poetry is almost as common as ordinary speech' (D.P. To stress that the licence originates in the form is indeed important, but one has to concede that people making especially extensive use of this form naturally and rightfully become associated with the licence involved. King, you are wrong because you do not discriminate. This paper follows the observation that 'the art of ruling and the art of oratory intertwine' (Furniss & Gunner 1995: 17) in Zulu society. With the general licence for poetical reconstruction and commentary of social reality a plurality of political views is admitted in principle. Cope's Izibongo: Zulu Praise-poems ( 1 968) - part of the Oxford University Press series on oral poetry from southern Africa - remains probably the most valuable text on Zulu izibongo. See Ndaba. breakdown. In this way, the eminent socio-regulative contribution of art, which has the potential to interrelate all different aspects of society, becomes once more obvious. But with the conditions for an all-over stabilizing effect of the, 22 As remarked above with reference to Vilakazi and Dhlomo. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter & Shooter. Pp. The central contention of this thesis is that Zulu izibongo, that are performed and recorded at the urban-rural interface, articulate responses to the multiple discourses and structures of political and social constraint. What people are saying - Write a review. The aesthetics of izibongo construct a form of verbal art which in its performance is at once binding and liberating. Le travail des poètes spécialistes, qui ne s'occupent que des grands personnages, consiste surtout à recueillir tous les éloges déjà composés spontanément sur tel ou tel, à les assembler en un poème plus complexe, avec certains raffinements de style, et à les déclamer d'une certaine façon, dans certaines occasions et dans un certain costume. The pauses he needs to take breath (after a praise-name, but varying according to imbongi) create the basic units of verses and stanzas. Since it is crucial to develop the argument from within the context of social life and the social form treated, a large part of this paper is concerned with a reconstruction of izibongo as poetry and in its various social interactions. Taking the phrase 'maps of experience' as leitmotif, the historical is not to be seen as just one sub-function of the izibongoamong others, but as intrinsically central to the aesthetics of the genre -like the poetical form, which cannot be isolated from its social meanings. 20 Current approaches within African political philosophy emphasize the value of this, principle for the attempt to formulate an African alternative to a 'Western' model of, democracy (cf. Poetic skill and the ability to fight are distinct traits of the male-centred, patrilineal Zulu society.9 Both mark important aspects of education and realms in which social recognition or even admiration can be earned. The term izibongois derived from the verb bonga which means mainly 'to praise,' and also 'to thank,' 'to worship' (Grant 1937: 85; Rycroft & Ngcobo 1988: 12), as well as 'to give clan name or kinship. Ndebele Praise poetry (Izibongo Zamakhosi) is poetry that developed as a way of preserving the history of a clan by narrating how it was founded and what its outstanding achievements were. African Languages/Langues Africaines 2: 7 1-90. -. Common features point at an interdependence of power between the ruler and the people, between whiclz the poet (and praise-poetq~ on the whole) mediates, reconciling their interests for the common good of society. 'Anything can be taken into a praise name by the simple process of nominalising' (Gunner & Gwala 1991: 31; cf. The reason given for why izibongo is to be regarded as the highest form of Zulu poetry is that they display the widest range of stylistic devices and encompass various layers of meaning. The reference is to two treaties made by Mphande in 1843, the first with the British defining the borders of Natal and Zululand, the second with the Boers concerning territory beside the Klip River. Fortune , 'Frames for compariso n and contrast i Shona poetry' Limi (1977) V 67-74 8 See , o n Tswana I. Schapera (ed.) Kashula, R. 1993. emphasizes that 'the secret meaning' of Zulu poetry lies in these two terms -whereby the connotation of social identity is, for Zulu speakers, always invoked. Oral perforrnancc and social struggle in contemporary Black South African literature. Kunene 1971, Hodza & Fortune 1979), initiating the necessary interdisciplinary interaction between anthropology and literature. Thus the principle that 'the poet is, the conscience of the nation. Zulu praise poems. Clarendon P., 1968 - English poetry - 230 pages. This fits well for a poetic topography of society. -. Mbelebele brigade: Mbelebelebeni was one of Shaka’s military barracks. Poetic licence: oral poetry and history. Jordan, A.C. 1957. Introduction to Secular Ritual, idem (eds. Les poèmes de ce recueil furent notés en zoulou au début du siècle par un magistrat, James Stuart. extensive phrases or appositions, linked to a praise name, mostly at the end of a group of praises, a stanza, or the whole poem.6 The acoustic impact on the audience of the language used is just as important for an appreciation of izibongo as the structural play with layers of meaning. 'Ritual' licence to rebel however includes no factual freedom to raise protest or criticism of the ruler. Gunner 1976: 73), but also know all about 'public opinion' (Mafeje 1967: 222). Shapera, I. T. Cope, ed., Izibongo. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter&Shooter. These lyrical switches of class are legitimate within the realm of poetic speech.