Folkloric Poetry in Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka: Exploring Genre and Function

  • Chris Swanepoel University of South Africa
Keywords: folkloric poetry, genre, archetypal hero, literary epic, tragedy


The aim of this paper is to investigate the genre and function of each of the 10 folkloric poems Thomas Mofolo included in his novel Chaka. The objectives are to understand why Mofolo decided to do so, and to determine to what extent the traditional poems contribute to the significance of the events in the narrative and eventually to the genre of the novel. These necessitated a methodology according to which each traditional poem had to be compared with its folkloric counterpart, whereupon its function had to be determined in terms of the outcomes of each part of the narrative where they occur. The final result confirmed the close relationship between the genre and its function, and that both in the end participate with the narrative to raise the genre of the novel to the level of the literary epic with clear elements of tragedy.