When the origin and the development of the Sepedi literature is looked into, it emerged that the main effort was made by the missionaries. The Berlin Lutheran Church will never be forgotten for the contribution they made. They were the first people to convert Sepedi to a written language and laid ground for creative writings that followed.
Before the year 1935, the literature books that were there were religious books written by missionaries. By so saying, 1935 was the year in which modern literature started. Most creative books appeared after that year. The main question now is, after 1935, was there any growth noticed in the literary writings, and was there any classification of literary works done? This question of growth and classification of literary works has been paid attention to by two very important theorists of Sepedi literature namely: Groenewald and Serudu. The idea of classification was prompted by the increase in the number of creative books published in Sepedi.
In his attempt to indicate growth and classification of Sepedi literature, Groenewald uses years of publication. To him the year of publication was the best indicator for the classification of Sepedi literature. However, the problem with his classification is that the reader is merely presented with a chronological sequence of publications without being provided with any specific reason by the author which compelled him to classify the growth of Sepedi literature by year of publication. In his classification, he mentions that there are features which are typical of each period but in his discussion, he does not use them. The features are not used to emphasise and to put focus on growth and classification.
Serudu also discusses classification and development of Sepedi literature according to year of publication like Groenewald. He groups the years into three periods. The characteristics that Serudu mentions in his classification are really not different from those distinguished by Groenewald. In his classification, Serudu mentions characteristics which he himself, however, does not apply in his own classification. From what is said above, it is clear that both Serudu and Groenewald have used the same approach as far as the classification of Sepedi literature is concerned.
In his classification, Mashabela does not describe or put in place the authors who fall under each period as Serudu and Groenewald have done. His classification entails poetry only and his focus point is on Matsepe s poetry. According to him, Matsepe s poetry falls under the transitional traditional period while modern poetry starts with the poetry of Bopape and Ratlabala. Reasons are not provided for his type of classification. Similarly, he too mentions the characteristics of each phase, the same way Groenewald and Serudu do. The very characteristics mentioned by Serudu are also referred to in passing by other theorists without the characteristics receiving due attention.
This study has sought a solution to the problem of growth and classification by focusing on the growth and classification of Sepedi poetry and not on the growth and classification of Sepedi literature in general. If attention can be devoted to the growth and classification properly, there are characteristics that can be used to solve this problem of growth and classification. The characteristics have to be brought forth and classified according to their importance.
When searching for the characteristics that will reveal growth/development and classification of Sepedi poetry attention should be paid to its structure as a literary work. Poetry is literary art just like other literary works such as the novel, drama, short stories, et cetera. Even if that is the case, a poem is different from a novel or other types of stories, because it has meter, while a novel is based on a prose, but both do narrate, especially when attention is devoted to poems, such as a narrative poem, that narrate in the form of a meter.