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Quite a few scholars have highlighted symbolism as a hallmark of both Tshivenḓa traditional and modern literature. Whether one speaks of Tshivenḓa folktales, drama, prose, praise poetry, ritual performances, figurative language, etc., one will find that symbolism pervades Tshivenḓa culture in general and Tshivenḓa poetry in particular. This article analyses Ntshavheni Alfred Milubi’s selected Tshivenḓa poetry and subsequently offers an appraisal on his use of symbolism. The article further argues that, to comprehend and consequently appreciate Milubi’s poetry, some knowledge of the tenets that saturate Tshivenḓa culture’s symbolic system as a whole must be possessed. The artistic function of symbols in Milubi’s poetry is notable in some of the poetry anthologies that he published alone and others to which he contributed his poems with other poets, namely: Muhumbuli-Mutambuli (1981), Vhuṱungu ha Vhupfa (1982) Ipfi ḽa Lurere (1986), Muimawoga (1990), Muungo wa Vhuhwi (1995) and Khavhu dza Muhumbulo (2001). Undergirded by Afrocentricity and New Criticism as its theoretical lynchpins, this article foregrounds Milubi’s use of symbolism as a quintessential subterfuge of the Vhavenḓa’s artistic expression.
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