Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi: Zulu Poet

Benedict Wallet Vilakazi (January 6, 1906 - October 26, 1947) was a South African Zulu poet, novelist, and educator. In 1946, he became the first black South African to receive a Ph.D. A year later, he died. Amazon has a book or two, but that is all I could find. Please share links or references with us if you know of any. Khotso~

I'd like to thank Rosalind for finding this additional information and Poem:


Now I Do Believe (Lament for my father - ten years later)
Translated from the Zulu by Cherie Maclean



Now I do believe that he has died,

Because when the sun lights up the earth

I see animals grazing in the morning,

Whisking their hairy tails,

Which are white like the cows at umHlali,

Still however I sometimes see dusk at midday.



Now I do believe that he has died,

Because it also became dusk for me at midday with

Mandlakayise.

When I asked them to take me to him,

They sorrowed with me,

I saw him lying down not yet covered up.

I saw a dream coming in the middle of the day.



And so it was also with Nomasomi.

The stars of her eyes were closed,

She became cold and failed to warm up again.

As for me, I could not stand and my arms shook

I took a quick look, her face became dusk,

And her astonishing beauty became obscured for me.



How can I not believe that you are dead

When your road is open in front of me?

I see all the years you have worn away.

It seems as if your own going opened the door

For others to go out when they were tired,

Indeed they are following you and not returning.



They don't return or you, hero of umZwangedwa.

They bade farewell and left me standing here alone.

Others I have buried at Groutville,

Where the darkness covers them up;

Others I have planted at Mariannhill,

There they are sheltered by the hens,

Because I hear the bell of angelus ringing,

It wakens them early to pray as it rings.

I see the red sunset,

I saw it turn the hills themselves red.



The red soils down at Mariannhill

I saw shining and competing.

I lay on the ground near a big fig tree

There where grandfather Frans lies,

I heard his words: 'Let us ring the angelus

Winter and summer it rings without grief!'



And so I am now satisfied that he is dead,

Because I see even in myself the falling

Out of the hair of youth, I am grey,

It gives me dignity, the mark of age

Which I saw with you when you were tiring.

After that you kept going until you came to nought,

I myself saw that you were slowly disappearing.



Today I do believe that he is dead,

Because in the place of Sleep I see you

You come with a cool heart,

You make me to cross over through gateways and fords

Of wisdom and awareness;

I can hear your guiding staff tapping

In front of me although I cannot see you.

I am like a blind person with my bodily eyes.

Yes, now I do believe that he is dead,

And that he has gone away for ever and ever.


Book on subject:  Biography:



5 comments:

Christina said...

Thank you, for sparking my curiosity. ; )

Happy New Year, my friend.

Fly Girl said...

Hi Stepehen,
Great post, this is an interesting literary discovery. I found an extensive bio and passionate poem

here:http://www.literarytourism.co.za/index.php/Authors/Benedict-Vilakazi.html

Stephen Bess said...

Christina-
Happy Happy New Year!

FlyG-
You're great. Thanks for sharing with us.

Rethabile said...

I been away a little. I know the name, but haven't got anything concrete to share. I'll look and ask around, my brother.

Lyrically speaking said...

How sad that he died after he got his degree, thanks for sharing this with us

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