From "Nehanda Nyakasikana" to the national anthem: Poetic aesthetics and the articulation of local and national sensibilities in Solomon Mutswairo's poetry.
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This chapter employs text analysis to explore the stylistics of the poems of Solomon Mutswairo ranging from his earliest poems in Madetembedzo Akare Namatsva (1958, 1988), to the lyrics of the national anthem, “Ngaikomborerwe Nyika yeZimbabwe”, his last offering. Through the use of text analysis it is feasible to analyse linguistic features pertinent in the poet’s works. In this chapter, we note that the accomplished Zimbabwean author mainly employs simple and straight forward language to navigate sophisticated local and national issues ranging from philosophical, religious, economic to topical political concerns. Though our primary focus is on stylistic analysis, inevitably we also address some key thematic concerns that permeate Mutswairo’s poetry. This is so because form and content are intricately related, the former facilitated the revelation of the latter. Throughout his career as a poet, novelist, literary critic and academic, Solomon Mutswairo passionately addresses a repertoire of thematic concerns namely, the Chiweshe chieftancy, land politics, exploitation, African religion, the liberation struggle, sovereignty, governance, love, respect, death and nature. All these thematic concerns are closely linked to the poet’s life experiences characterized by his childhood socialization in Chiweshe communal lands, missionary education, colonial exploitation and subjugation, overseas university education, high school and university teaching. Mutswairo’s poems analysed in this chapter are found in the anthologies, Nduri DzeZimbabwe (1983) and Madetembedzo Akare Namatsva (1988), the poem “Nehanda Nyakasikana” in the epic novel Feso, and the lyrics of the national anthem, “Ngaikomborerwe Nyika YeZimbabwe”. It is the preoccupation of the chapter that repetition, personal address forms, the apostrophe technique, the Mhiramudzimu incantation register, metaphoric and imagistic language and rhetorical questions are the key poetic devices that characterize the poet’s stylistics.
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