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Mofokeng’s dramatic play, Senkatana, epitomises intertextuality


SM Mofokeng’s dramatic text Senkatana (1982) is a classic Sesotho tragedy. The drama has been adapted from the well-known Basotho folktale Moshanyana wa Senkatana. There are also certain authors that inspired Mofokeng to create Senkatana. Intertextuality has played an important role in creating Mofokeng’s masterpiece. The protagonist is Senkatana, whose fall is caused by his own good intentions. Audiences and readers develop pity and horror for Senkatana for the situation in which he finds himself. No one can help him emerge from his circumstances, nothing can help him choose the safe way as opposed to the tragic one. Senkatana, the tragic hero, does not make decisions independently, because badimo, the ancestors and God, control his destiny, and he cannot fight badimo and God. The central argument in this article is that Mofokeng’s dramatic text attains meaning from other texts and authors. Senkatana’s meaning appears to be content-bound, but when readers look at its content, it is boundless because it refers to other previous texts. For the purpose of this article, the theory of intertextuality will serve as the point of departure to investigate the manner in which folktale, Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and the Bible generate meaning in the act of Mofokeng’s writing of Senkatana.

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eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117