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Reginald Dhlomo PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 04:19

Rolfes Reginald Raymond Dhlomo (1906-1971) was born near Pietermaritzburg and was the brother of renowned KwaZulu-Natal poet H.I.E. Dhlomo. He worked as a mine clerk in Johannesburg and as a freelance journalist becoming, in 1932, assistant editor of the Bantu World and, in 1943, editor of Ilanga lase Natal. Most of his creative work is in Zulu and consists of historical novels of nineteenth-century Zulu leaders: U-Dingane (1936), U-Shaka (1937), U-Mpande (1938), U-Cetshwayo (1952) and UDinizulu (1968). He wrote a novella An African Tragedy (1928), the first piece of English prose fiction by a black South African to appear in book form and presenting a sombre picture of life in the black urban slums. Under several pseudonyms including 'Rollie Reggie', 'The Randite' and 'Pessimist', he regularly sketched moral tales of life in the mining compounds for Stephen Black's magazine The Sjambok (1929-1931) - a selection is to be found in English in Africa (March 1975). In 1946 he returned to the conflict between rural and city ways in the Zulu-language Indlela Yabani ('The Evil One'), a narrative depicting the dilemmas of an African in the locations of Johannesburg.

In 2015, Dhlomo (together with HIE Dhlomo) was  awarded a "Literary Posthumous Award" at the 2015 South African Literary Awards (SALAs).

(Adapted from the Companion to South African Literature - Adey, Beeton and Chapman, 1986)


Selected Work

from 'Evils of Town Life' in An African Tragedy (1928)

Two reasons made Robert Zulu leave teaching at Siam Village School. The first was that he wanted to get married to Miss Jane Nhlauzeko as soon as possible. But as Jane's father had asked for a silly huge sum of money and other gifts for Ilobolo Robert felt that he could not raise this sum quick enough while teaching - teachers' salaries being anything but lucrative at that time.
So he made up his mind to leave teaching, and go to Johannesburg to look for work. He felt sure that there he could make more money in more ways than one, and that quickly too.
The second reason was that he thought, as most foolish young people think now-a-days, that town life is better in every way than country life; and that for a young, educated man to die having not seen and enjoyed town life was a deplorable tragedy. These excuses made Robert deaf to all the efforts of his parents and friends to dissuade him from going to that most unreliable city of Johannesburg. His final decision therefore, to go to Johannesburg at all hazards, was a blow to his people, who had thought highly of him, as a young Christian teacher in the Mission.
This blow was felt even more strongly by his future parents-in-law. But as Robert pointed out to his father-in-law that, unless he reduced his Ilobolo, there was no alternative open to him but that of going to Johannesburg to try and raise money quickly, his father-in-law did not argue any further.
He wanted money for his daughter. He had said : " What business has Robert to ask my daughter's hand in marriage if he has no money to pay for her?" This is unfortunately the parrot-cry of many Christian fathers, the costly mistake which, in many cases, results in poor, and financially stranded homes, or driving the young lovers to the terrible alternative of a "Special License," or running away from their homes with disastrous results all too-well known.
Robert Zulu had been in Johannesburg for about two years as our story begins. During this time, he had been engaged in all sorts of nefarious activities in pursuit of get-me-rich quick methods. But all these activities, instead of getting him rich only plunged him deeper and deeper in vice and evils.



1928. An African tragedy: A Novel in English by a Zulu Writer. Alice, Eastern Cape: Lovedale Press.
1935. Izikhali zanamuhla. Pietermaritzburg:  Shuter and Shooter. 
1936. UDingane kaSenzangakhona. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter. 
1937. UShaka. Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Publishers.
1938. U Mpande ka Senangakhona. Pietermaritzburg: Shuter and Shooter.
1938. (n.d.) UNomalanga kaNdengezi. Pietermaritzburg:  Shuter and Shooter.
1946. Indlela yababi. Pietermaritzburg:  Shuter and Shooter.
1952. UCetshwayo. Pietermaritzburg:  Shuter and Shooter.
1977. Izwi nesithunzi. Durban:  KwaZulu Booksellers.
1996. Selected Short Stories.  Grahamstown: Rhodes University.

Author Map (Pietermaritzburg)

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June Drummond PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 04:19

June Drummond (1923 - 2011)

From a review of Loose Cannon (2003) by Margaret von Klemperer.

It was back at the end of the fifties that June Drummond parcelled up the manuscript of her first novel - pages and chapters all unnumbered - secured the parcel with colourful, sticky Christmas tape and sent it off to the predominantly Jewish firm of Victor Gollancz.

'I made all the mistakes,' she says. But it hardly mattered; Gollancz accepted the book. It was the start of a long partnership, with Gollancz publishing Drummond's thrillers and romances until the firm was taken over as part of the huge changes that have swept across the publishing scene. Drummond has shown more staying power than her publisher: this year will see her 80th birthday and has already seen the publication by English publishing house Robert Hale of Loose Cannon, her 16th thriller.

In 1998, Drummond decided that she was going to retire from writing. She and her sister moved into a flat on Durban's Berea and she decided to have a restful life - if being a lay minister and playing bridge allowed time for it.

'But I always had the itch to write,' she says. 'It's like an athlete, you still think you can run a marathon at 90.' But, unlike the athlete, she can. Although Drummond says the world she writes about and the world of publishing have both changed, she has proved that she can still write successfully, for all that she refers to her post-retirement writing as her 'second childhood'.

Drummond enjoys both writing and research but admits that the latter can be so interesting that it leads her off into byways that are of no use for the book on hand. But a writer must be accurate.

'I learnt that with my first book. I wrote about some make of car - a Maserati, I think - and mentioned the magneto. As soon as it was published, I got a letter telling me that the car I described doesn't have one. You've got to get it right.'

Drummond was living in London when she started her writing career. She was Secretary to the Church Adoption Society and in her time there saw over 1000 children adopted. She enjoyed the work and used it for the basis of her second novel. It was a time, before the Pill or legalised abortion, when there were many unwanted babies.

Drummond left Britain in 1960 and, over the Tannoy system on the mail ship carrying her home to Durban, heard the announcement of the Sharpeville massacre. As she stepped off the ship, her mother met her with the announcement that a new political party was having its first meeting in Durban that night and that Drummond had better go along. So she attended the first meeting of the Progressive Party and found herself sucked into the politics of the time.

Drummond worked for what was then the Durban Indian Child Welfare Society and found that the divisions within South Africa hindered the adoption work they were trying to do. 'It was very difficult to do it right when fighting injustices at the same time,' she says.

Drummond may have been drawn into South Africa's politics but they were one subject writers were advised to steer clear of. She says her first novel was 'anti-apartheid in a mild, beginnerish way' and as such appealed to the flamboyant Victor Gollancz, a supporter of Africa's freedom struggles at the time. 'But publishers switched off on Africa for a long time; they felt that critics and readers heaved a sigh when they picked up a book about apartheid.'

It was a situation that has taken a long, long time to start changing. And it meant that Drummond wrote about other things.

Drummond is coming up to her half-century of published writing and shows no sign of stopping. She laughs when she says that maybe her forthcoming 80th birthday will bring in more readers.

'People will either say I must be mad to go on, or let's see how she does it.'

And she does it very well.


Selected Work

From The Black Unicorn (1959)

The week before Max St. Cyr died, the temperature touched one hundred and ten in the shade. No wind stirred the vineyards. Extra fire-watchers patrolled the pinewoods above the house. The stable cat crackled with electricity. This weather, unseasonable in the spring of the year, broke in a storm that rushed down into the Constantia Valley with a brilliance of hooves and a whipping wet mane. Steam rose from the fields like a sigh of relief.

Sometimes I think that that week of intolerable heat contributed to Max's death, crystallising emotions that had been boiling up for months. During the past two years I've thought a good deal about the past, wondering where I made my mistakes. I brought Max up, helped to shape his character. I'm old. I can remember-oh, a long way back.

It was sixty years ago when I first came to Arcenciel, and I was sixteen years old. My hard round hat cut into my forehead, and my sister's boots one size too small made each step a torture. I remember how my father took my hand, and said 'Look, Emma, over the door,' and I looked up and saw above the carved fruits and goddesses the motto '?? corps perdu, with might and main.' My father was a quiet man, a scholar who taught in the school for coloured children on the St. Cyr estate. He'd a cool Scandinavian head from his grandmother, but I took after my mother's people, and I think he was afraid the streak of silliness in me would lose me my chance of success.

He needn't have worried. Rebellion throve in the soil of Arc-en-ciel. The first St. Cyr to arrive in the Cape of Good Hope was an outcast, expelled from Catholic France for his Protestantism, from Holland for his debts, and from England for his political miscalculations. He bobbed up in Table Bay about the end of the seventeenth century, and some years after his arrival obtained a grant of land between Constantia Nek and Tokai, in a valley of rich promise, grazed by heraldic beasts, and sweet with strange flowers that grow nowhere else in the circumference of the world.

On the day he laid the foundations of his farmhouse, there was a storm, and when it passed he saw that a rainbow stood across his land, ending, it seemed, at his boundary. He called the house Arc-en-ciel. The years added lustre to it, the St. Cyrs became important economically, politically, and socially.

Their motto was well chosen. I came, in my squeaky boots, to a home where it was considered normal to live ?? corps perdu; to seek knowledge, to govern, love, fight and laugh with all one's strength. Any small rebellions I might have raised were small grapes in those vineyards.



1959. The Black Unicorn. London. Victor Gollancz
1959. Northern Miner. London.  Victor Gollancz.
1961. Thursday's Child. London. Victor Gollancz.
1962. A Time to Speak. London. Victor Gollancz.
1964. Welcome, Proud Lady. London. Victor Gollancz
1964. A Cage of Hummingbirds. London. Victor Gollancz.
1965. Cable Car. London. Victor Gollancz.
1967. The Saboteurs. London. Victor Gollancz.
1968. The Gantry Episode. London. Victor Gollancz.
1969. The People in the Glass House. London. Victor Gollancz.
1971. The Farewell Party. London. Victor Gollancz.
1973. Bang Bang! You're Dead! London. Victor Gollancz.
1974. The Boon Companions. London. Victor Gollancz.
1975. Slowly the Poison. London. Victor Gollancz.
1976. Funeral Urn. London. Victor Gollancz.
1979. The Patriots. London: Victor Gollancz.
1979. I Saw Him Die. London. Victor Gollancz.
1980. Such a Nice Family. London. Victor Gollancz.
1982. The Trojan Mule.. London. Victor Gollancz.
1985. The Bluestocking : a novel. London : Victor Gollancz.
1989. Junta. London. Victor Gollancz.
1990. Unsuitable Miss Pelham. London. Victor Gollancz.
1991. Burden of Guilt. London. Victor Gollancz.
1992. The Imposter. London. Victor Gollancz.
1993. Hidden Agenda. London: Victor Gollancz.
2003. Loose Cannon. London: Robert Hale Ltd.
2004. The Meddlers. London: John Hale Publishing.
2006. Old Bones Buried Under. London: John Hale Publishing.
2008.  Countdown Murder. London: John Hale Publishing.


John Dube PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 February 2007 04:18

John Dube (1871 - 1946) was born in the Inanda district and was the author of the first historical novel in Zulu. The novel is entitled Insila kaShaka (1930) and was translated into English in 1951 as Jeqe, the Bodyservant of king Tshaka.

Dube was a founding member of the South African Native National Council (later the ANC) and in 1914 led its deputation to Britain to protest against the Native Land Act. He later resigned the presidency of the Congress. Known to his countrymen as 'Mafukuzela', Dube exercised great influence, and was moderate in his views. Dube established the newspaper Ilanga Lase Natal in 1903.

Inspired by the American educator, Booker T. Washington, Dube excelled as educationist, politician, editor, artist and publicist, and was successful in unifying the historical vision of the African people. His democratic nature as well as statesmanship were evident in his belief that despite the oppression of the African people by the Europeans, blacks and whites would eventually be able to live together under a democratic order.

Selected Work

From Jeqe, the Body-servant of King Shaka.

Love has a strange power, for, instead of both the women being condemned to death, Shaka only wanted to kill the one whom he did not love.  But he knew that the chief induna would not consent to this; he would say that if one was to be killed, both should be killed.  So the king sent out messengers to summon the fathers of the two women. The medicine was burnt.  When the fathers of the two women arrived, Shaka ordered the chief induna to tell them the whole story.

When they heard it, they replied, ‘Sire, what can we say? Let the Child of Heaven do unto his dogs as seems good to him.’

Shaka told the fathers to take their daughters home and punish them.  However, a few days afterwards Shaka’s favourite was ordered to return.  The other woman never appeared again at the royal kraal.

But fear had entered Shaka’s heart: he felt he was hated by his own people, and was terrified of witchcraft.  Fe made him a prisoner in his own hut and he was startled by trifles.  He had no desire to converse with his councilors in the cattle-kraal.  When the most powerful chiefs of the country came to do homage and to discuss military affairs, he refused to see them. ‘Is the kind sick,’ they asked, ‘for he will not show his face to us?’

The headmen now hit upon a plan to dispel the moodiness of the king.  They sent for all the best musicians in the land, those who played on reeds and flutes and all stringed instruments.  Day after day they practised in the men’s quarters till the harmony was perfect.  Then one day they assembled in the cattle-kraal to play within the hearing of the king’s apartments.  It was their aim to entice the king to come out and enjoy the music.

When the sweet sound of music came to the king’s ears, he cried to Jeqe, ‘What do I hear? What are they doing in the cattle kraal?’

‘Your dogs, sire,’ he replied, ‘have come to play to you.  They hope you will come out and listen to their music.’

And indeed the king left the gloom of his cattle hut and listened and rejoiced in the music, and the cattle-kraal was filled to overflowing.

Then the kind said, ‘Why did you delay so long to give me this great joy?’

And the people answered, ‘O Black One, we do our best’ we are always thinking how we may please you.’ All this time the court ladies were impatient to come and listen, so the chief induna pleaded for them and the kind consented.

And now the music was over, but the king remained and spoke graciously with the people and their hearts were filled with joy.

Two poems written in praise of John Dube by H.I.E. Dhlomo

Great son of streams and valleys African!
Mafukuzela! thou of warrior frame;
Whose rare achievements proved the Black Man can!
You thought and taught and wrought us into fame.
Not scars of war alone adorn your brow;
For Beauty, Song and Fire of vale and hill,
Of our rich idiom - how the gods endow! -
The pages of your story wondrous, fill.
Blest leader, thou, to fight and midst the glist
Of battles fierce - great scholar, author, sage -
Find time the Muses fair to serve. Our mist
Of ignorance you raised, Light of our age!
In pangs of birth we stood when he began;
Twas dark! God spoke! and there arose this man!

Fuze by H.I.E. Dhlomo
(For John Langalibalele Dube)

Pray, poets of our Race play softly on
Your harps! Lay down your shields for he is gone!
Pipe dulcet songs of praise to God upon
Your tender strings as Fuze passes on
To join immortal throngs of those who strove
With tears to serve both God and Man; who wove
A rope of golden deeds to heaven that men
Might climb and the celestial gates open.
How shall we sing him songs himself who sang
Immortal songs whose echo mountains rang?
How tell his praises with our limping rhyme
Who wrote sweet rimes upon the sands of Time?
The glory of our land - deep vales and mountains;
The pageantry of flocks gathered near fountains;
Of fragrant flowers and herbs, of worms that glow
At night while angels bring us sweet repose
From strife; amorous birds that build their nests
Mid strains of music; the ancestral guests,
Pied snakes, that speak of our reincarnation
And urge us on to fight for liberation;
Deft scenes of beauty where the weeping willows
Weep not, but sing lost harmonies; where swallows
Bring rain; where fantasies of mingled splendour
Of starry nights, sweet sounds, perfume and colour,
Of lizards, bees, blue seas, and winds all sobbing,
And waterfalls, green fields, and birds all soaring,
Combine to make this clime a Paradise,
Ah me! Alas! polluted by the guise
Of those who as they mouth of liberty
And Christian law, shape laws of slavery!....
These glories of our land in book and word
He caught and sang his people to begird
And make them boastful of their land and Race,
And wolves who sneer disdain with pride to face.
Oh weep! Mafukuzela great is dead!
The giant who pained through laborious years
To woo for Africa the place that's hers.
Weep not! for a golden circlet crowns his head!
Weep not for him. He lives! He speaks, is free!
This day he has ascended to the sphere
Of immortality. The atmosphere
Of hate and colour, sorrows, calumny,
He does not breathe. He is at rest, lives free.
Tis we must weep who suffer slavery;
Who on travail hang as upon a cross!
Who dwell amongst men who think the Cross but dross.
Oh weep! Mafukuzela brave is dead!
Weep not! for victory adorns his head!
A nursling in the arms of God, he sings!
Where grave thy victory? Where death thy sting?
He now belongs to the immortal few
Who on the Tree of Time their names did hew
With blades of beauty, pain and noble deeds;
In service to their people and their needs;
Such Shaka, Aggrey, Khama, Hannibal
And many more who answered to Life's call;
His work and efforts and his name and fame,
Forever in our midst will be a flame
Inspiring us to fight for liberty,
An echo and a rod to make us free.
Oh weep! Mafukuzela wise is dead!
Weep not! for pearls of genius alight his head!
Great Guardian of our shattered Eden fair!
The Snake of Wrong you challenged without care!
Like lovers' kisses so upon our lips
Thy name - which even Death cannot eclipse!
Corruption, hate, now stride our politics;
Where Fuze won by deeds, some climb by tricks.
He battled with clean arms of sanity,
Where now we suffer shafts of crudity;
The Ego and the shout are all today;
The Nation thirsts - while pygmies prance and play!
Of Bantu freedom - he the Morning Star!
Who kept us not afar, but led us far.
The Kings of deeds rise immortal from their bones.
Vain men of wealth shine only while they live,
But those who achieve, through ages will survive.
They doubly live who of themselves doth give.
But power mad fools lie dead while yet they live.
Genius endures. Wealth, power and fortune, change;
The works of beauty remain passing strange;
For genius teaches that all life is one;
Works of achievement cry, Thy will be done.



1907.  Practical Christianity Among the Zulus.  In Missionary Review of the World. 20, 370-373.
1930. U-Shembe. Pietermaritzburg:  Shuter and Shooter. 
1930. Insila kaShaka. Durban: Marianhill Mission Press. 
1933. Ukuzi-phatha Kahle. Durban: Marianhill Mission Press.
1951. Jeqe, the bodyservant of king Tshaka. Alice: Lovedale Press. 
1996. A Zulu Song Book. Durban:  Killie Campbell Africana Library.

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