By Jennifer Wenzel

In 1856 and 1857, based on a prophet’s command, the Xhosa humans of southern Africa killed their livestock and ceased planting vegetation; the ensuing famine rate tens of millions of lives. very like different millenarian, anticolonial movements—such because the Ghost Dance in North the USA and the Birsa Munda rebellion in India—these activities have been intended to rework the area and free up the Xhosa from oppression. regardless of the movement’s momentous failure to accomplish that aim, the development has persisted to exert a robust pull at the South African mind's eye ever considering that. it really is those afterlives of the prophecy that Jennifer Wenzel explores in Bulletproof.

Wenzel examines literary and ancient texts to teach how writers have manipulated photos and concepts linked to the farm animals killing—harvest, sacrifice, rebirth, devastation—to converse to their modern predicaments. Widening her lens, Wenzel additionally appears at how previous failure can either motivate and constrain events for justice within the current, and her fabulous insights into the cultural implications of prophecy will fascinate readers throughout a large choice of disciplines.

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Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond

In 1856 and 1857, according to a prophet’s command, the Xhosa humans of southern Africa killed their livestock and ceased planting plants; the ensuing famine price tens of millions of lives. very similar to different millenarian, anticolonial movements—such because the Ghost Dance in North the USA and the Birsa Munda rebellion in India—these activities have been intended to remodel the realm and release the Xhosa from oppression.

Additional resources for Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond

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28 Colonel John Maclean, chief commissioner of British Kaffraria, described a more wary, selective appropriation: The Kaffir, contented like the North American Indian with his barbarous state, and apathetic as to improvement, has in addition to these other characteristics, that he clings tenaciously to his old customs and habits, is proud of his race, which he considers pure and superior to others, is therefore eminently national, is suspicious, and holds aloof from others; and while considering the white man as a means of obtaining certain articles which the despised industry of the latter supplies, would yet prefer their absence.

The cattle killing was not only a devastating event in the history of the amaXhosa but also a seminal moment in the history of colonialism, segregation, and apartheid in southern Africa. This foundational importance of British colonial policy for later South African history undermines nostalgic recollections of nineteenth-century British rule as liberal and enlightened, compared with the excesses of twentieth-century Afrikaner segregationism. 46 “Disaster is the new terra nullius,” Klein writes—the form that colonial impulses take in the twenty-first century.

The cattle killing was the climax of nearly a decade of millenarian prophecies among the Xhosa people, or amaXhosa, who inhabited a region of the eastern Cape spanning from the coast of the Indian Ocean to the south and beyond the Amatola Mountains to the north. They had been repeatedly dislocated for more than a half century as the border of the British Cape Colony pushed eastward in a series of nine frontier wars, eight of which were fought between 1779 and 1853. The eastern Cape frontier was extraordinarily violent; even in peacetime, stock thefts and other conflicts with British and Boer settlers kept tensions high.

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