root - April 23, 2024

Language as a Weapon of Resistance: Iviwe Mathe’s book fights against the marginalization of indigenous Cultures

Ambesiwe Mbana 

Eastern Cape educator Iviwe Mathe has added another achievement to his growing literary repertoire with the publication of a new book written in his mother tongue, isiXhosa. 

This latest work represents yet another milestone in Mathe’s efforts to promote and preserve the language and culture of his home province. In a time where many indigenous languages struggle to find a place in South Africa’s literary landscape, Mathe’s dedication to his heritage and craft is both admirable and inspiring.

Iviwe Mathe’s book serves as a poignant indictment of the murders of individuals falsely accused of witchcraft, a problem that continues to plague the Eastern Cape. Mathe’s passion for preserving isiXhosa culture and protecting the vulnerable was the driving force behind this book, a project that he first conceptualized during his university years. Despite initial challenges in securing its publication, Mathe’s dedication ultimately prevailed, allowing his powerful message to reach a wider audience.

Iviwe Mathe stated the driving force behind his book’s publication was A.P. Ngane’s influential work titled “Umkhonto kaTshiwo”.

Mathe stated he was inspired by Ngane’s powerful storytelling and exploration of the widespread issue of witch-hunting. He felt motivated to contribute to this conversation and offer his own perspective. He said Ngane’s insights into the plight of those falsely accused of witchcraft further deepened his desire to give a voice to this often silenced narrative.

Mzoli Mavimbela, editor of  Mathe’s book, said the book is incredibly relevant, addressing an important issue in the Eastern Cape community. “Mathe’s usage of isiXhosa is creative and engaging, ensuring that the story can resonate with a wide range of readers regardless of their background. The book is a testament to the power of language and storytelling as a tool for raising awareness and sparking conversation about pressing social issues,” said Mavimbela.

This narrative presents a compelling and relevant illustration of literature’s capacity for resistance and education. Through his use of isiXhosa, Iviwe Mathe has actively contested the dominance of English as the primary language in South African literature. In doing so, he underscores the significance of preserving indigenous cultures and languages.

Furthermore, by addressing the issue of witch-hunting in the Eastern Cape, Mathe has brought attention to a social issue that has been largely ignored in South African society. His work stands as a reminder that literature can be a tool for raising awareness about important issues and effecting positive social change.

For those keen on acquiring a copy, Mathe can be contacted through his Facebook profile, “Iviwe Phandulwazi Mathe”. 

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