Marhambu ya Nhloko
By: MM Marhanele,
published by:
Timbila Poetry
Reviewed by:
Goodenough Mashego
Our apartheid masters made indigenous language literature available in the school curriculum and banned it outside the school environment. Shrewd heh?Once out of school, poetry disappeared and indigenous literature disappeared. Thus, it is refreshing to see a book like Marhambu ya Nhloko, a book of traditional and contemporary poetry, written entirely in xiTsonga without any compromise.
One would expect any poet born in 1947 to write about Hendrik Verwoerd, BJ Vorster and PW Botha, instead of what fills the newspapers today. But Marhanele, a former school principal and seasoned author of over 25 books, is right up to date, writing even about Al Qaeda in Pentagon na WTC, "ya xitumbelelani yi lwiwa swi twala/ pentagon a wa ‘ngi u lo hlangana na saha. / WTC na yena a hohloka/ tanihi mpambani wa xihoncana…/ hi siku ra 11th September 2001…/mbhayimbhayi rito ri huma e-Afghanistan, / Osama Bin Laden a tidyela ebo: /"mina a ndzi yena yaloye"/ Bush yena a ku tshetsherhele: /"nyakhandle hi tiva wena."…/
This 138-line rant is actually a walk in the dark that Marhanele undertakes in his search for the ill-defined illusive Illuminati.Bad news, the poet fails to find the super-world government that causes all the ills he writes about, even after 138 lines.
Nhenha ya Holofani (Joel Risimati Marhanele 1919 -- 2002) is a praise poem written in an obituary mode with a twist of hero-worship.It is similar to the SePedi poem, Mahloko ba Mokopane and the Spanish posthumous epic narration Sala y Gomez. That's if you went to school of course and listened to your teachers.
Marhanele explores so many different subjects in his book, the collection ends up providing a favourite theme for every poetry reader.Marhambu ya Nhloko however never fails to disappoint me. It is a rich commentary that unfortunately will only reach xiTsonga speakers.Nevertheless Marhanele’s act is bravery in a time when tribal intolerance seems to be on the rise.Verwoerd and Vorster will be turning itchingly in their graves about this collection.
first publisehd in WORDSTOCK

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