Insularity and Ambivalence: The Case of the South African Poet P. J. Philander's Epic Poem, "Zimbabwe"

This essay explores the South African author P. J. Philander's epic "Zimbabwe" (1968), an Afrikaans poem of 307 alternate quatrains largely based on the disproved notion that the Phoenicians built the ancient complex of Great Zimbabwe and established a religion of phallic or fertility...

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Published in: Research in African literatures Vol. 39; no. 1; pp. 125 - 148
Main Author: Willemse, Hein
Format: Journal Article
Language: English
Published: Bloomington Indiana University Press 04-01-2008
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Summary: This essay explores the South African author P. J. Philander's epic "Zimbabwe" (1968), an Afrikaans poem of 307 alternate quatrains largely based on the disproved notion that the Phoenicians built the ancient complex of Great Zimbabwe and established a religion of phallic or fertility worship. The essay initially traces the longstanding debate on the "mystery" of Great Zimbabwe and arrives at the conclusion that the poet made a deliberate choice for the Semitic or Phoenician thesis. In the second phase of the discussion, "Zimbabwe" is read with Frantz Fanon's classic text "Les damnés de la terre," especially with regard to the complex but key binary relationship between settlers and aboriginals. In conclusion, the essay discusses the author's political ambivalence and his attempts at making the rise and decline of Great Zimbabwe applicable to apartheid South Africa.
ISSN: 0034-5210
1527-2044
1527-2044
DOI: 10.2979/RAL.2008.39.1.125