Royal identities and social relations in MER Mathivha’s drama Mabalanganye: a critical language awareness perspective of knowledge regeneration

  • Thomas Maitakhole Sengani


There is an unfair view that writers in African languages are artists who mostly focus on aspects of literary genres such as theme, plot, characterisation, conflict, setting, time, language and style. From a thematic point of view, Mathivha’s (1974) drama Mabalanganye is often regarded as one that depicts the Tshivenḓa-speaking community of yesteryear, when African royal leadership were a law unto themselves. Some see it as a mythical story in which Mathivha illustrates and reconstructs some failed African history. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate through critical language awareness, and the social constructionist and ethnography of communication theories how Mathivha employs elements of drama to highlight the sociocultural and political life of identity creation and social relations among the Vhavenḓa people of South Africa. Mathivha uses epithets such as titles, clan names and praise poetry as both referential expressions and address names to demonstrate how they construct identities that establish social relations between royal leadership and their subjects, in order to illustrate participatory nationbuilding endeavours. Through these expressions, Mathivha further illustrates how African indigenous knowledge is regenerated to be lived and experienced as a sociocultural and political resource. 


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eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117