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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reluctant Slaughter: Rethinking Maqoma's Role in the Xhosa Cattle-Killing (1853-1857)
Author:Stapleton, Timothy J.
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
traditional rulers
Xhosa cattle killing
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
About person:Maqoma Xhosa Chief (1798-1873)ISNI
Abstract:This article examines the role of the renowned Xhosa chief Maqoma (b. 1798) in the cattle-killings of 1856-1857, which destroyed the last vestiges of independent Xhosa power. Maqoma had fought in three frontier wars to preserve the control of his chiefly class over Xhosa cattle and land. However, in 1856 he sanctioned a movement that sacrificed all he had strived to maintain. The author describes how the destruction of the precolonial system of pastoral patronage by European conquest and the lungsickness outbreak of 1855 discredited and fundamentally weakened the Xhosa aristocracy. Within chiefdoms where the rulers had collaborated with the colonial invaders, enraged commoners began slaughtering royal cattle to overthrow their failed chiefs. While Maqoma was reluctant to slaughter his cattle, his son Namba joined the movement because he had fewer stock to lose and he wanted to ensure his future chiefly position through popular appeal. Maqoma only started to kill his cattle after the lungsickness entered his chiefdom and reserve granaries had become exhausted. He counted on rebuilding his herds with the assistance of his colonial salary, but in the violence between supporters and opponents of the cattle-killing, much of his chiefdom was destroyed and he was subsequently imprisoned as an obstacle to complete colonial dispossession. Notes, ref.