Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi

Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi (Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)On 29 July 1945, Xhosa dramatist, essayist, critic, novelist, historian, biographer, translator and poet Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi died in Ntab'ozuko at the age of 69. His works are regarded as instrumental in standardising the grammar of isiXhosa and preserving the language in the 20th century.

Mqhayi was born in the village of Gqumahashe (an old Mission station) in the Thyume valley near Alice in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa to parents Ziwani Krune Mqhayi and Qashani Bedle on 1 December 1875. Mqhayi began his primary schooling in the Thyume Valley. At the age of nine, Mqhayi moved with his father to Centane to stay with his uncle Nzanzana (the headsman of the area) during the witgatboom famine of 1885. When Mqhayi was 15, his uncle died and his father, who had moved to Grahamstown, sent his sister to fetch him. Mqhayi attended Lovedale College where he studied to become a teacher.

Around 1900 Mqhayi worked for the isiXhosa newspaper 'Izwi Labantu' for a couple of years. In 1905, he was appointed in the Xhosa Bible Revision Board. Later, he would help to standardise Xhosa grammar and writing, and then become a full-time author. In 1907, he wrote his first novel in the isiXhosa language, 'U-Samson' an adaption of the biblical story of Samson, which is now lost. In 1914, he published 'Ityala lamawele' ('The Lawsuit of the Twins') an influential isiXhosa novel and an early defence of customary law and Xhosa tradition. In 1925, he wrote a biography of John Knox Bokwe titled 'uJohn Knox Bokwe: Ibali ngobomi bakhe', which was published by Lovedale Press in 1972. Mqhayi added seven stanzas to 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' which was originally written by Enoch Sontonga in 1927. His autobiography is titled 'UMqhayi waseNtab'ozuko' (Mqhayi of Mount Glory). He wrote 'Utopia, UDon Jadu' in 1929.

Mqhayi was known as ‘Imbongi yakwaGompo’ (the poet of Gompo) and later ‘Imbongi yesizwe’ (the poet of the nation).

(Source: Wikipedia)

Selected publications

Publications by Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi

Iziganeko zesizwe : occasional poems (1900-1943) / S.E.K. Mqhayi; Jeff Opland; P.T. Mtuze. - Pietermaritzburg, South Africa : University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2017

Abantu besizwe : historical and biographical writings, 1902-1944 / Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi; Jeff Opland; L.V. Mabinza. - Johannesburg : Wits University Press, 2009

Two unpublished poems by S.E.K. Mqhayi / Jeff Opland; Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi.
In: Research in African literatures, vol. 8, no. 1, p. 27-53 (1977)

Inzuzo / Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi; James J.R. Joloba. - Johannesburg : Witwatersrand University Press, 1974

A short autobiography of Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi / Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi. - [s.l. : s.n.], 1945

Publications about Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi and his work

Xhosa Literature: Spoken and Printed Words (Volume 6) / Jeff Opland. - Portland: University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, Xhosa Literature, 2018

The first novel in Xhosa / Jeff Opland.
In: Research in African literatures, vol. 38, no. 4, p. 87-110 (2007)

Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi, 1875-1945 : a bibliographic survey / Patricia E. Scott. - Grahamstown : Department of African Languages, Rhodes University, 1976

Timeline of Xhosa-language writers via DBpedia and Wikidata