Arthur Fula

  • Peter Sulzer


This is a translation of a chapter entitled “Arthur Fula” from Peter Sulzer’s unpublished manuscript Südafrika im Spiegel der Afrikaans Literatur (1965), pages 381–91. This Swiss librarian and Africanist corresponded for at least eight years with Fula and met him in the early 1960s at his place of work, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s courts. Fula, a native Xhosa speaker, worked as an interpreter where he also interpreted from Zulu and Sesotho. He published the novels Jôhannie giet die beeld (1954, Johannesburg casts the graven image; The Golden Magnet, 1984) and Met erbarming, O Here (1957, With Compassion, Oh Lord). In this chapter Sulzer provides valuable information on several of Fula’s unpublished works of which none has survived. This includes the unpublished novel ’n Zoeloe-dogter (A Zulu Daughter), two novellas “Vader Kalashe” (Pastor Kalashe) and “Matsiliso van Phomolong” (Matsiliso of Phomolong), and several poems. Fula’s prose writing often explored the tensions between tradition and modernity. Sulzer’s view argued in this chapter is that the author’s poetry is “of greater literary value than the novellas”. Sulzer’s unpublished chapter pro- vides valuable background and literary commentary on a writer who has largely been forgotten. Keywords: Arthur Fula, Afrikaans literature,  African  traditions,  modernity.

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