15 October 2013
Heart of Redness Paper
The cattle killing movement in the 19th century has proven to be a complex topic, and it is difficult to unravel the different perspectives held about this historical event. Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda is a historical fiction novel, which portrays the different viewpoints held about the cattle killing, both while it was happening, and in the aftermath in almost present day, and portrays a lot of the personal feelings held about the cattle killing. The JAH Article, “The Central Beliefs of the Cattle Killing,” by Jeff Peires gives the different views on the cattle killing from the perspectives of historians. In Heart of Redness, the tension between the Believers and the Unbelievers has built up immensely, and the historical reasons (and misbeliefs) behind the Believers and Unbelievers original views on the cattle-killing, as shown in the article, are important in analyzing the struggle for these two groups to cohesively live together. The Believers felt strongly that the cattle killing was necessary in order to purify the amaXhosa and allow for the ancestors to be resurrected and replenish their stock with new fields, and healthy cows. Peires states that a lot of historians pin the cattle killing movement on tradition. The amaXhosa practiced purifying themselves, and sacrificing before the lung sickness arose, but historians and anthropologists are mistaken in calling it “traditional” in any way. As Peires puts it, “Whatever 'traditional patterns' may have existed in Xhosaland before 1856, they certainly did not include mass destruction of basic subsistence needs or the expectation of an imminent resurrection of the dead” (Peires, 44). The Believers would not have risked the lives of the entire community without truly believing that the ancestors would be resurrected. Peires mentions that the Xhosa believe that the dead are still walking among the living, but in a different form, so their resurrection is very...
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