Mazisi Kunene (Mazisi Raymond Kunene) Biography
(1930–2006), (Mazisi Raymond Kunene), Zulu Poems, Emperor Shaka the Great, Anthem of the Decades
South African poet, born in Durban, educated at Natal University and at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. After a period as Director of Education for the South African United Front, he was the chief representative of the African National Congress in Europe and the USA and subsequently became Professor of African Literature and Language at the University of California, Los Angeles. Kunene composes his poetry in Zulu and makes his own translations into English. The resonantly imaginative treatments of the interactions of man and nature in Zulu Poems (1970), his first collection of verse, were strongly informed by Zulu oral traditions. Emperor Shaka the Great (1979), a verse narrative based on nineteenth-century history, and Anthem of the Decades (1981), an adaptation of tribal myths concerning the coming of death to mankind, are works of epic dimensions. His political concerns are most apparent in The Ancestors of the Sacred Mountain (1982), which contains reflections on conditions in South Africa in addition to lyrical and meditative poetry rooted in his Zulu cultural inheritance.