Alienation in Ntshavheni Alfred Milubi’s poetry




African-language literatures, alienation, despair, modernity, Tshivenḓa poetry, Tshivenḓa literature


In this article, I analyse the thematization of alienation in the poetry of the Muvenḓa poet, playwright, and scholar Ntshavheni Alfred Milubi. Milubi ascribes people’s abandonment of moral values to their perpetual frustrations, herein described as alienation. Reference is made to the crumbling African traditional institutions, which, in the past, seemingly functioned as havens for the rehabilitation of alienated individuals in African communities. These institutions are shown to be triggering alienation in the modernising and globalising space, seemingly with no room for recuperation unless one heeds the poet’s clarion calls. I restrict my analysis of Milubi’s poetry only to social and cosmic alienation, guided by a fixed set of themes, namely, from society, a romantic lover, and God, respectively. The article represents the idea that African-language literatures provide insights into how the indigenes have grappled with the interface between tradition and modernity. The three forms of alienation as treated by Milubi serve as a representative sample of how Tshivenḓa poetry in particular and African-language literatures in general often register subaltern voices and the ways in which they inscribe their experiences to explain their relationship with God or god(s), society, and intimate partners, among others. This trifocal relationship is essential to the Vhavenḓa and other African communities because it reveals their concept of cosmology, community, and intimacy.


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Author Biography

Moffat Sebola, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa

Moffat Sebola is a lecturer in the School of Languages and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa.


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How to Cite

Sebola, M. (2023). Alienation in Ntshavheni Alfred Milubi’s poetry. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 60(2), 13–25.



Research articles