Recent publications


The missionaries, rightfully, are commended for their pioneering work in converting into print isiXhosa of the Eastern Cape region in South Africa. However, they have come to be slighted for the moral high-handedness with which they omitted in print the sociocultural values, norms, mores and indigenous knowledge that were present in the rich oral heritage of amaXhosa. Missionary-controlled publishing houses acted as regulators of what could be published, and censored anything that came to be published through them. Much didactic school and evangelical literature was produced in this manner. This led one scholar to comment that in these texts, except for the language, nothing reflected amaXhosa or ubuXhosa.

When the isiXhosa-speaking people gained proficiency in reading and writing through missionary education that was introduced at the turn of the 19th century, they seized the power of ink to write about their knowledges, using newspapers, less regulated at the time than the missionary-controlled printing presses. They wrote freely without missionary control and influence about matters including their history, norms, beliefs and values. The writings, aimed at both the young and the old, reflected the manner in which amaXhosa made sense of their world, both past and present, and also of how they imagined the future. Unfortunately, because of the limited lifespan of newspapers, many of these writings were either lost or remained obscure. This has allowed many to believe that, with the exception of missionary-published writing, there was nothing else written by and about amaXhosa. Further, with access only to the writings of and about amaXhosa as published by missionary printers, many incorrect assumptions have been made about the way of life of amaXhosa in the precolonial period.

The two publications, William Wellington Gqoba – Isizwe esinembali – Xhosa Histories and Poetry (edited by Opland, Kuse and Maseko) and D.L.P. Yali-Manisi – Iimbali zamanyange – Historical Poems (edited by Opland and Maseko) are collections of the works by some of these writers. They bring into the history of isiXhosa literature powerful writers and writings whose work, now also presented in translation, debunks some of the widely-held views about amaXhosa. Their sophisticated judicial system, their intricate and detailed political history, their inclusive governance systems, their harmonious social structures, their scientific knowledge about and synchrony with their environment, for example, are captured mainly through poetry reflecting oral culture before print. As these works are now presented in the original form in which they were written, as editors of these volumes, we believe that these writings not only bring back to life these great authors, but they also provide materials from which scholars can study the history of the writing of the language. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, these contribute towards the restoration of memories of amaXhosa that were systematically replaced by colonial memory with the introduction of print. Studying the texts can assist in the reconstruction of the sociocultural practices of amaXhosa in the pre-colonial period.

These volumes are the first two titles of the Publications of the Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, a Series edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, published by the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) Press. The first two volumes were published in 2015. The third volume is currently in press (publication expected late 2016). The fourth and fifth volumes are ready for publication. It is anticipated that many more authors, both known and unknown, will be published through this series.

Pamela Maseko, School of Languages: African Language Studies. Rhodes University

LSC cover

Re-imagining Linguistics from the margins: A southern African textbook project

Bock, Zannie & Mheta, Gift (Eds). 2014. Language, society and communication: an introduction. Pretoria: Van Schaik Publishers.

The teaching of Linguistics globally has been dominated by texts written in the global north. For students in southern Africa, the languages and contexts that these profile are often remote and disconnected from their lived experiences and knowledge. In response to this gap, the Linguistics Department at the University of the Western Cape initiated a textbook project which integrates northern and southern knowledge in new ways. It reimagines linguistics and communication from a southern African perspective by drawing on the rich diversity of languages in the region (e.g. Bantu, Khoisan, Indo-European) and the multilingual practices which shape these contexts.

All authors are current or past staff or students of the Linguistics Department or people associated with it as honorary or extraordinary professors and research fellows, and the content draws on their own research, thus reflecting a diversity of southern African contexts and perspectives. The authoring process was participatory and inclusive and provided opportunities for young African scholars to develop as writers and publish their first text. Of the twenty-five authors, twelve were doctoral students in the department, from six different African countries.

Following a pilot version in 2013, the expanded first edition (2014) has been used in universities throughout southern Africa. Not only are we very proud to report that we are using the book with great success in our own undergraduate courses, but it has been adopted as a prescribed text at four other national institutions in 2015 and 2016. It is also a recommended text for a number of other programmes both locally and internationally. It has been well reviewed for the national applied linguistics journal, SALALS. The reviewer notes that it “presents a holistic and integrated perspective on the use of language in society in general and in particular within the southern African context” and that many chapters could also be recommended as background or “refresher” reading for postgraduate students. By March 2016, more than 4500 copies had been sold.  All author royalties are paid into a departmental account for research and development.  Further details about the book can be obtained from  (distributed by

Zannie Bock, University of the Western Cape

Forthcoming publications

Kerfoot, C., Hyltenstam, K. (Eds.), (ftc, 2016). Entangled Discourses: South-North Orders of Visibility. Routledge, New York.

This book uniquely explores the shifting structures of power and unexpected points of intersection – entanglements – at the nexus of North and South as a lens through which to examine the impact of global and local circuits of people, practices and ideas on linguistic, cultural and knowledge systems. The volume considers the entanglement of North and South on multiple levels in the contemporary and continuing effects of capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, in the form of silenced or marginalized populations, such as refugees, immigrants, and other minoritised groups, and in the different orders of visibility that make some types of practices and knowledge more legitimate and therefore more visible. It uses a range of methodological and analytical frames to shed light on less visible histories, practices, identities, repertoires, and literacies, and offer new understandings for research and for language, health care, education, and other policies and practices. The book brings together an exciting mix of voices of both established and new scholars in multilingualism and diversity from a range of social, political, and historical contexts and provides coverage of areas previously underrepresented in current research on multilingualism, globalization, and mobility, including Brazil, South Africa, Australia, East Timor, Wallis, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. This volume is key reading for scholars, researchers, and graduate students in multilingualism, globalisation, sociolinguistics, mobility and development studies, applied linguistics, and language and education policy.


Southern Multilingualisms and Diversities reading list

SMDC Reading list 1

This resource is a working and collaborative document that can be improved as our members and affiliates send through appropriate additions and corrections.

We are currently building a list of publications that address issues of southern perspectives of multilingualism and diversities. We should also like to have links to publications that articulate with broadening discourses and debates of multilingualism. Please send to us suggestions about these.

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