Thomas Mokopu Mofolo (moh-FOH-loh) was a Southern African writer whose three novels established a literary tradition in his native Sesotho language and influenced African writers throughout the twentieth century. He was born in a small village as the third son to Christian parents, Abner and Aleta Mofolo. The exact date of his birth has become lost, with recent scholars favoring December 22, 1876.
As child, Mofolo attended missionary schools in Lesotho. He then became a servant for the Reverend Alfred Casalis, who managed a combination of Bible school, printing press, and book depot at the regional capital of Morija. In 1894 Casalis sent Mofolo to Bible school, where he deepened his familiarity with biblical values and literature, two dominant influences on his writing. From 1896 to 1898, Mofolo attended Morija Training School, earning his teaching certificate in 1899.
Mofolo’s new employment as an interpreter at Casalis’s press came to an end with the outbreak of the Boer War, which raged until 1902. Mofolo returned to his native countryside, where he learned and practiced carpentry. He then taught for two years, from 1902 until 1904, before Casalis employed him as his secretary in Morija.
There, Mofolo wrote The Traveller of the East, the first novel in the Sesotho language. It was published in serialized form in the Sesotho-language newspaper Leselinyana, starting on January 1, 1906. The novel reflects...
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