UKZN academic in the School of Arts Dr Gugulethu Mazibuko has been recognised and honoured with an award by the National Library of South Africa in Cape Town for being a ‘phenomenal woman in developing and promoting isiZulu in the country’.
Said Mazibuko: ‘To me it shows that there is indeed a bright beckoning light at the end of this once very dark tunnel of developing African languages. It has been very hard for books written in African languages to be published and African languages are undermined and considered to be inferior to European languages.’
It was, however, the love of isiZulu that made Mazibuko decide to preserve, develop and promote isiZulu. She realised that for any language to be developed, there had to be enough literature. Her journey of writing started in 2000 while working for the Department of Education where, together with colleagues, she wrote three grammar books titled Kuyasa.
In 2005, Mazibuko contributed short stories in a first isiZulu anthology written by women only titled Wathint’ Imbokode. ‘A remarkable feature in this anthology is that stories touch on things that can only be best expressed by women. You also get women’s objective perspectives on various topical issues such as abuse in its various manifestations,’ she said.
At the Department of Arts and Culture, Mazibuko was involved in the training of budding authors in literature as she believes outreach programmes are vital in unearthing and nurturing new talent. She then edited the first isiZulu short story anthology written by inmates from the KZN Correctional Centres titled Umuntu Akalahlwa. She also edited another anthology Isililo, written by youth from the deep rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
As an academic since 2000, Mazibuko has done research on the development of isiZulu literature which has led to the publication of an article in the Current Writing Journal and a chapter in a book titled SA Lit Beyond 2000. As a female author she has also done research on tracing back isiZulu books written by women and realised that there is a huge gap between male and female authors.
She is involved in the UKZN Language Planning and Development Office project of developing budding authors and is working with reading and writing clubs while also participating in various national and provincial committees for the development of isiZulu.
Mazibuko is currently editing the first isiZulu academic book in the field of Onomastics titled Ubuciko Bokwethiwa Kwamagama. ‘It is my wish to see more academic books written in isiZulu as a way of implementing the Bilingual Language Policy of the University,’ she said.
Acting Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken added, ‘Dr Mazibuko is to be congratulated on receiving this prestigious award in a key area of development in the humanities. isiZulu is fundamental to the path we are treading in creating a university aligned to the realities of our society. In this endeavour we are a university leader. Such an award reaffirms us in this pursuit.’