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Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of


in the


at the




I declare that this research project entitled:

Some Aspects Of Symbolism In D.B.Z. Ntuli's One-Act Radio Plays is my own work, that all the sources used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references.

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I wish to express my sincere gratitude and indebtedness to the following:

My supervisor, Prof. L.F. Mathenjwa for invaluable guidance, patience and insight.

Without his enormous encouragement when I had given up, this study would never have been a success. Unwele olude Mgabadeli!

My parents, siblings and everybody at Lindukunqoba home for all the love and support they have given me over the years.

All my relatives and friends for their love and best wishes.

All staff members, past and present at the Department of African Languages, University ofZululand for encouragement and moral support, especially during the fiustrating initial stage of this study.

Shuter and Shooter Publishers for the generous financial assistance.

My colleagues for being my 'other family.' Meshack for helping me with locating useful material in Gauteng.

Prof. D.B.Z. Ntuli for his enthusiasm and willingness to assist in numerous ways.

Ungadinwa nangomuso Nomangcwembe!

My lovely beloved wife, Nontuthuzelo for being a pillar of strength. I would not have completed this research without her love and patience.Unwele olude Bayeni omuhle!



CHAPTER 1 introduces the study and also gives the biographical details ofD.B.Z. Ntuli.

CHAPTER 2 deals with the nature, history and characteristics of radio drama. In this Chapter, our focus will be on how Ntuli uses the nature and technical requirements of this medium to portray symbolic attributes of the play.

CHAPTER 3 examines the themes and subject matter that Ntuli conveys in his one-act radio plays. In this chapter we will discuss the recurring comments that Ntuli makes through different types of themes and how he depicts

–  –  –

CHAPTER 4 will concentrate on setting so as to determine the extent to which Ntuli uses symbolism to portray the significance and relevance of setting in a one-act

–  –  –

CHAPTER 5 shows the various literary techniques through which Ntuli depicts characterization in his one-act radio plays. This chapter will deal with the symbolic features that characters adopt and how this impacts on the plot in

–  –  –

1.0 INTRODUCTION An outstanding feature ofD.B.Z. Ntuli's one-act radio plays is the use of symbolism as an artistic device to convey a meaningful message in a thought-provoking manner. The use of symbolism in Ntuli's radio plays is remarkable because this literary technique is predominantly used in poetry and visual drama.

In this chapter, an introductory exposition of our study will be provided. Firstly, the aim of the study will be pointed out as well as the methods we propose to adopt in conducting this research. An attempt will be made to illustrate the various approaches that have been adopted by literary scholars to analyse drama. Our main focus will be on the approaches that will be relevant for this study and how we propose to apply them in our discussion of the symbolic aspects of Ntuli's one-act radio plays. The definitions of the key concepts in this study will also be provided as well as some examples to substantiate and illustrate some vital points of our discussion. Lastly, this chapter will also give a biographical sketch of D.BZ. Ntuli. With regard to this, an attempt will be made to ascertain the influences that have shaped Ntuli's writings and how some aspects of his biography are reflected on his one-act radio plays.


The primary purpose of this study is to give a critical evaluation of certain aspects of symbolism that seem to feature prominently in Ntuli's one-act radio plays. Our focus will be on how NtuIi uses symbolism with regard to setting, theme and characterisation in a play. An attempt will be made to determine the effectiveness of symbolism in conveying meaning and message in the play.

–  –  –

The critical and scholarly neglect that radio drama has suffered is regrettable, especially considering the range and quality of the best creative work written for this medium.

As far as we have been able to ascertain, very few studies have been carried out on radio plays written in African Languages. In 1968, H.J. Lubbe did an MA research on the response of Sotho listeners to radio plays. In 1971, T. van Heerden finished an MA dissertation on the nature of selected radio serials broadcast by Radio Lebowa during the sixties. In 1988 R.H. Moeketsi did an Honours article that focuses on the nature of Radio Sotho drama broadcasts. In 1991 N.E. Makosana completed an MA dstudy which is a comparative study of six Xhosa radio plays broadcast in 1987 and

1988. A study for MA by C. Diamond in 1993 looks at the themes in one-act plays in isiZulu and also touches on radio plays. In 1994 N.W.Tshamano did an MA study on the critical exposition of selected Venda radio plays. Z.W. Gule's 1996 doctoral thesis on isiZulu one-act plays comments on one-act radio drama as well. The most recent study is A.M. Maphumulo's 2001 doctoral thesis that focuses on D.B.Z. Ntuli's radio drama trilogy, Isivumelwano, Isivumelwano Esisha and Ngenxa Yesivumelwano.

The above examples show that, with the exception ofMaphumulo's research, no other elaborate research has been conducted on isiZulu radio drama except for cursory comments that have only featured sporadically in critical writings on Afiican literature.

We also feel that critics have shamefully neglected the enormous contribution of D.B.Z. Ntuli as a playwright. Most of the studies have concentrated on his poetry and short stories. This study therefore aims to highlight some of the features of Ntuli' s plays that have resulted in extreme popularity amongst isiZulu listeners.

–  –  –

and playwriting in particular and how this genre seems to pose some problems to many

writers. We also firrnly concur with Gassner (1963:489) who argues that:

It is flagrant understatement to say that playwriting is one ofthe most difficult form of writing. It is the most difficult.

1.2 SCOPE OF STUDY The scope of this study will cover twenty one-act radio plays that Ntuli has written from 1965 to 2000. Most of these plays have been broadcast by Ukhozi FM over the years and are available on tapes at the S.AB.C. archives in Durban. Fortunately, most of Ntuli' s plays that were broadcast on the radio were later adapted, with very slight changes, and published in various books, thus making them easily accessible. There are, however, some plays that have never been broadcast before and only appear in book form.

In analysing all these one-act radio plays, emphasis will fall on how Ntuli gives symbolic qualities to theme, setting and characterisation in a radio play. We propose

to approach this study in this manner:

Chapter 1 will provide an introduction to this study. An outline of the aim and scope of study will be covered as well as the research methodology and the approaches that will be used in this study. The biographical sketch ofD.B.Z. NtuIi will also be provided so as to acquaint us with the man who has created the one-act plays that are the focus of our discussion.

Chapter 2 deals with the nature, history and characteristics of radio drama. In this chapter, our focus will be on how Ntuli uses the nature and technical requirements of this medium to portray symbolic attributes of the play.

examines themes and subject matter that Ntuli conveys in his one-act Chapter 3 radio plays. In this chapter we will discuss the recurring comments that NtuIi makes

–  –  –

Chapter 4 will concentrate on setting as we generally know it. The aim of this chapter is to determine the extent to which Ntuli uses symbols to enhance the significant role of setting in his plays.

Chapter 5 shows the literary techniques through which Ntuli depicts characterisation in his plays. This chapter will deal with the symbolic features that characters adopt and how this impacts on the plot of the play.

Chapter 6 provides a concluding statement. In this chapter we look back at discussions in preceding chapters, comment on our findings and give recommendations and suggestions for future research endeavours.

1.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY For the purpose of this study, we are going to use literary criticism on drama as our primary source of information. We are also going to use tape recordings of the one-act radio plays that were broadcast by Ukhozi FM over the past years. There will be no page numbers indicated against excerpts taken from tape recordings of the plays.

In the case of the plays that have already been published, we are going to use books in which these plays appear, i.e. Amavenge (1985), Woza Nendlebe (1988), Amaseko (1990), Lalela-ke (1991) and Indoni Yamanzi (1992).


There are many theories and approaches that have been formulated by critics and scholars to be applied in the analysis and evaluation of drama. We are only going to mention a few ofthe approaches that we feel are relevant for this research.

–  –  –

As the name suggests, this approach is regarded as traditional because it has always been in use and has served as a basis for our appreciation of drama for both entertainment and study purposes.

The traditional approach is based on Aristotle's views and ideas about what he regarded as a well-written play. This great Greek scholar was convinced and strongly believed that a well-constructed play should have characteristics to which playwrights had to adhere. Aristotle's view was that a play must have the beginning, the middle and the end. In other words, events, which were to be covered in a play, had to be within the scope of this plot structure as stipulated by Aristotle.

Janko (1980: 13) states that in Poetics, Aristotle discusses various possible types of a

plot and comes to a conclusion that:

The well-constructed plot must, therefore, have a single issue and not a double. The change offortune must not be from bad to good but the other way round, from good to bad.

There are various interesting arguments that have resulted from Aristotle's idea of a well-constructed play. There have also' been attempts to reconstruct his plot structure because of its rigidity and the restrictions that it imposes on the playwright's creativity.

Many scholars, for instance, offer a reconstruction of Aristotle's plot and give an analysis of phases through which a play goes. They cite exposition,.inciting moment, rising action, climax and falling action (which includes a reversal of events) and denouement.

According to Aristotle, a good play consists of basic elements, which are the plot, character, intellect, diction, song and spectacle. The traditional approach to the study of drama therefore considers these factors as of primary importance. If a critic uses this approach, no attention is necessarily given to other aspects of the play such as theme, setting and so forth.

–  –  –

Guerin et al. (1979) give two types of traditional approaches that can be adopted in the study of drama. The first type is historical-biographical. With regard to this type,

Guerin et al. (1979:25) say:

Put simply, this approach sees a literary work,chiefly, if not exclusively, as a reflection of its author's life and times or the life and times of the characters in the work.

In other words, this type of traditional approach suggests that a literary work will be more meaningful if the biographical background of the author and the setting of the play are known and understood. In using this approach, the critic will focus mainly on the biographical details of the author and how this impacts on the play as a whole.

The moral-philosophical approach is another type that critics and supporters of the traditional approach believe can be used effectively in literary criticism. This type is,

for instance, favoured by Guerin et al. (1979:29) who say:

The larger function ofliterature is to teach morality and to probe philosophical issues.

According to this approach, the merit of a literary work is judged by the extent to which it teaches the reader or how it inspires philosophical thought. In other words, if the critic uses this approach, emphasis is on the didactic elements of the play and how the play makes philosophical comments on the day-to-day issues oflife.

As we pointed out earlier in this discussion, the traditional approach has fallen out of favour with many critics. The weakness of this approach, for instance, is that it tends to be very rigid and leaves very little room for adjustments and improvements.

Aristotle's views on a well-written play do not allow the playwright to use his creative powers to full potential. This approach also narrows the critic's scope of comments because he or she is only confined to few aspects that are considered as vital in this approach.

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