Anyone wishing to laud Matsepe for his literary ability should first turn to Ramaila who was not only one of the first writers in Sepedi, but also taught his people to read. Some of his short stories in the volume entitled Molomatsebe (1951) bear testimony to his narrative skills, particularly 'Tšhelete ya Sepoko' and 'Moloi ga a na mmala' which are complex in structure, like a detective story. Apart from the Molomatsebe collection, he also wrote other works such as Taukobong (1953), Setlogolo sa Batau (1938) and Tša Bophelo bya Moruti Abraham Serote (1935). In 1959 a volume of praise poetry was published that he had collected in the various Sepedi-speaking regions. These verses are not only of cultural historical significance but the volume is also a valuable addition to Sepedi literature. The greatest merit of the poems is found in the fact that they are authentic recitations. To the Bapedi Ramaila is a pioneer; he was the first author in Sepedi and encouraged his people to educate themselves. Ramaila had many followers of which Matsepe was the most important. In the pre-Matsepe period authors mainly wrote about the problems Blacks encountered under Whites in the cities. For this reason the 'Makgoweng motif' is often referred to in Sepedi literature. The works are generally sermonizing in tone and a moral lesson was usually included. Readers later found them very tedious, and when Matsepe appeared on the scene, he took the material for his stories from days of long ago. He, therefore, wrote about kings and heroes, and about war and hunting. Whereas stories written before were no more that short narratives, Matsepe created voluminous novels. He also wrote poetry and published six volumes, some of them of admirable quality. He was twice awarded the S. E. Mqayi prize for literature by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (South African Academy for Science and Art). During one of these award ceremonies he said that he had become tired of the preaching by his predecessors; he intended to regale his readers with absorbing reading matter. While Ramaila taught people to read, Matsepe exposed them to great literature. Because Matsepe's stories were so interesting, they met with general approval almost immediately. This led to a change of direction in Sepedi literature that could to a great degree be attributed to Matsepe's writing. This thesis deals with the influence Matsepe had on other writers. The most important factors determining such an influence are also examined. In this research the avenues of description, comparison and interpretation are expolored. The narratological model was chosen and adapted as a descriptive framework. The emphasis is mainly on the facts used by the authors and the manner in which they were put together. In the latter case this means that not only was the organisation of the information taken into account, but consideration also given to a similarity in the usage of specific word and phrases without reverting to stylistics. In defining the meaning of influence, the concepts of similarity, imitation, translation and plagiarism were also examined and identified. In this context various angles of influence are discussed. The influence of one author on another, influence emanating from literature itself and the influence arising from circumstances were noted. In the research several writers have been named who are said to have been influenced by Matsepe. These conclusions have not been motivated, however. In this study it has therefore been found that these pronouncements were made at random and that influence cannot be considered in all of these cases. On the other hand, a number of authors of the younger generation were discovered who are familiar with Matsepe's work and who are indeed influenced by him. This study has also revealed that Sepedi literature can be divided into two periods. First there was Ramaila period during which people learned to read and write, followed by a second period when readers were no longer interested in dull moral narratives, and thus a new generation of authors emerged. This can be designated as the Matsepe period although it includes writers who have only lately come forward and have not been influenced by Matsepe. The demands of circumstances for a change of direction in Sepedi literature may be ascribed to this. The fact that the second period heralded the growth of this literature is mainly attributed to the satirical nature of many of these works.
Thesis (DLitt (African Languages))--University of Pretoria, 2006.