Mazisi Kunene Museum

The Kunene Museum was developed and founded in 2007, at the Kunene Home at 8 Delville Avenue, Glenwood, Durban. Their mission was to become an international facility in which visitors could become familiar with his life and work.  The Museum creates a space in which to physically locate the rich legacy of Kunene; to preserve and protect the invaluable and fragile manuscripts of Kunene; to provide an archive and resource centre for scholars, academia, and publishers and to provide the public and researchers.

“The heritage of Kunene, this great spokesman, is without a doubt indispensable to restructuring of the foundation of the reconstruction of the identity of the African continent.”
Aimé Césaire, French poet, author and politician.

Mazisi Kunene (1930 – 2006) was an epic poet who lived in KwaZulu-Natal. He studied at the University of Natal, and won the Bantu Literary Competition Award in 1956. He left South Africa in 1959, taught in Lesotho, and years later gained the distinction of becoming Professor of African Literature and Language at the University of California in Los Angeles. More recently, he was  based at the University of Natal, Durban. For Zulu Poems (1970) Kunene collected and translated into English his early poetry. Evolving from traditional Zulu literature, the poems reflect the importance of this social and cultural inheritance. With the publication of Emperor Shaka the Great (1979), an epic poem inspired by the rise of the Zulu empire – Shaka’s royal kraal was located at KwaDukuza – followed by Anthem of the Decades (1981), a Zulu epic dedicated to the women of Africa, Kunene earned critical as well as popular recognition. His reputation was further enhanced by the elegiacal poems collected in The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain (1982). Acknowledged for his commitment to the language and history of his Zulu heritage, Kunene will undoubtedly continue to be a major voice in African literature. His more recent works include Isibusiso sikamhawu (1994), Impepho (1994), Indida yamancasakazi (1995), Umzwilili wama-Afrika (1996) and Iziyalo zomtanami (2007).

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  1. August 9th in South Africa is a hallowed day when our country celebrates the role of women (past and present)for the various contributions to their communities. As a woman and a life partner to Mazisi Kunene who passed away August 11th 2006, I shied away from “The grieving widow” image and came up with the idea of celebrating first, my womanhood,marriage,and motherhood. Oh, by the way, there is the “Empty Nest” when all children leave home. None of that here, the Museum is full of memories.
    In 2007 when I unpacked the travel trunks I discovered close to ten thousand hand written poems all in isiZulu with only a few translations.Tucked in between these manuscripts, were photographs:his family, my family, our wedding and numerous awards. Kunene’s life’s contribution to the liberation struggle is exhibited in the museum. On this 2010 Woman’s Day I am proud to say I did my part in preserving this great African who fought galantly to claim a place for African intellectual discourse on the international academic arena.
    The Museum is now included on the Celebrate Durban list as “must see” place. The Mazisi Kunene Zwakala Schools Poetry Project is now in 22 schools around Durban and has been invited to be part of the famous Poetry Africa’s annual festival sponsored by Centre for Creative Arts of the University of KwaZulu Natal. Email

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