The transculturation of Thomas Mofolo's Chaka : Southern Africa and francophone Africa in dialogue

Vassilatos, Ellas Alexia
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Thomas Mofolo’s novel Chaka was a key contributor to Shaka’s mythical status. This thesis attempts to demonstrate the significance of this work in light of the author’s intellectual education and development by the Paris Evangelical Mission Society in Lesotho and the subsequent exploitation of the novel by Léopold Sédar Senghor. In the figure of Shaka, whom Senghor posed as an intellectual challenge to the imperial cultural assumptions of the colonising powers, the Senegalese author created one of Négritude’s most powerful symbols. Following Senghor, a succession of Francophone African versions of Mofolo’s story imbued the Zulu king with each author’s cultural and political idiosyncrasies. These versions offered entirely new texts, which performed the simultaneous acts of deculturation and neoculturation of Mofolo’s novel and Shaka/Chaka’s life. Traditionally, Anglophone and Francophone African literary cultures have been treated as separate intellectual spheres. This thesis seeks to understand the dialogue between them, and examines the evolving narrative of their cultural exchanges through the ‘transculturation’ of Mofolo’s Chaka.
Francophone, Francophonie, Chaka, Mofolo, Senghor, Africa, PEMS, Lesotho