Classic Author Focus: Thomas Mofolo

Thomas Mofolo

Thomas Mofolo only wrote three books, but he is renowned for being the first author of Western-style novels in the language of Sotho. He is also world famous for his last book, Chaka, because it depicted European Colonialism as a bad influence on the native populations and celebrated the Zulu king.

Mofolo was born in Basutoland (now Lesotho) and was educated by missionaries to be a teacher. After training college, he worked at the Sesuto Book Depot for ten years as a manuscript reader and proofreader. He also taught in Basutoland and Cape Colony.

Mofolo’s first book, Traveller from the East, is an allegory about a young African man in search of truth who is brought to salvation through European missionaries. However, already by his second book, Pitseng, which is also a Christian fable, the hero realizes that the Europeans have betrayed the promises of their religion. Finally, Chaka celebrated African culture and presented its hero as a tragic figure, who has been compared to Macbeth. It is considered the earliest contribution of black Africa to world literature.

Dates: 1876-1948

Most popular work: Chaka

Other works: Traveller from the East, Pitseng

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