Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi

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Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi

Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (S. E. K. Mqhayi, 1 December 1875–29 July 1945) was a Xhosa poet and historian.


Mqhayi was born in the Cape Province, South Africa to a Christian family. At the Lovedale institution he was trained as a teacher. In addition to teaching and helping to edit journals in the Xhosa language, he was appointed to the Xhosa Bible Revision Board in 1905. Later he would help to standardize Xhosa grammar and writing, and then become a full-time author.[1]

Between 1896 and 1944 he was a journalist and wrote for Xhosa newspapers. In 1907 he wrote what is considered by some to be the first novel in the Xhosa language, U-Samson, which is now lost. In 1914 he published Ityala lamawele ('The Lawsuit of the Twins') an influential Xhosa novel and an early defence of customary law and Xhosa tradition.[2] He is best known and most celebrated today for his authorship of much of the poem, "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika," which was to form part of a free South Africa's national anthem. His autobiography is titled, UMghayi waseNtab'ozuko (Mghayi of Mount Glory).[3] In 1929 he wrote Utopia, UDon Jadu. He was the recipient of the May Ester Bedford Prize for Bantu literature in 1935.[4]

A youthful Nelson Mandela, who esteemed him "a poet laureate of the African people,"[5] saw Mqhayi at least twice in the flesh, and once, to his infinite pleasure, heard him recite.



  1. ^ Senekal, B. A. "Biografische gegevens". NEDWEB. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  2. ^ Opland, Jeff. 'The First Novel in Xhosa'. Research in African Literatures, Volume 38, Number 4, Winter 2007, pp. 87–110
  3. ^ Opland, Jeff (December 22, 2007). "The first novel in Xhosa.(S.E.K. Mqhayi' USamson)". Indiana University Press. Retrieved 2006-08-10. 
  4. ^ Barber, Karin (2006). Africa's Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34729-7. 
  5. ^ Smith 2010, p. 32.

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