Title page for ETD etd-08052008-141944

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Mohlala, Mankgoke Jonas
URN etd-08052008-141944
Document Title ‘Bamasemola’ : seretotumišo sa E.M. Ramaila
Degree Master of Arts
Department African Languages
Advisor Name Title
Prof M J Mojalefa Supervisor
  • correspondence
  • structuring techniques
  • totem
  • descent
  • praise poem
  • narrative
  • epic poem
  • epic
  • title
  • verse composition
  • stylistics
  • stylistic techniques
Date 2008-04-09
Availability unrestricted

The purpose of this study is to trace and describe the form, origin and history of the praise poem ‘Ba Masemola’. This praise poem was included in the volume Seriti sa Thabantsho (1956). In that period, E. M. Ramaila collected and transcribed traditional praise poems of different groups, such as the Bapedi, the Batau, the Mapulana, and others. During his collection, Ramaila urged these groups not to forget their descent and history, and pointed out that these particulars were all brought together in their praise poems.

Of the clans that are represented by their praise poems in this volume, only the Batau are discussed in this study. The Batau is a large group that is in its turn divided into five smaller groups, namely the Mphanama, Masemola, Nchabeleng, Makobe and Bakgaditsi groups. From among these smaller units the ‘Ba Masemola’ are selected for closer examination. Among the praise poems about the ‘Ba Masemola’ different kings are praised, for instance Mokwene, Tseke, Mabowe, and others. Not all these poems will be scrutinised, though occasional reference will be made to them.

The most important concepts that are discussed in this study are the following: the praise poem, the narrative poem (poem with epic characteristics) and the epic. These genres share certain characteristics, yet also differ from each other. With regards to the content of the poem, several important characters are praised. The foremost figures that are mentioned here are the praise poet, the praised one and the ‘audience’. Their conduct differentiate them from characters found in (other) narratives works. The actions that are described can be divided into two groups, namely those that operate autonomously from other actions, and those that link with other actions. Nevertheless, all these happenings belong to the past.

The milieu in this praise poem largely corresponds to that found in the narrative works, mainly because in the traditional settings, the praise poem is a declamatory piece that has several characteristics in common with the stage performance.

In the description of the structural composition of this praise poem, a distinction will be made between the poem as literary work and the poem as verse. In the first case the theme, title and structure of the poem will be examined. The description of the structure of ‘Ba Masemola’ entails the different techniques Ramaila employs to carry across his ‘message’ and elucidates his point of view.

In the examination of the verse composition, the first emphasis is on metrical principles that govern form, i.e correspondence and co-ordination, and the way in which Ramaila used them is then illuminated. In the stylistic finish of the poem there is a noticeable emotional charge. This can be mentioned as an important quality of the poem, and brings to the fore the bravery and fearlessness of the clan of GaMasemola.

© University of Pretoria 2007

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