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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Soft' Believers and 'Hard' Unbelievers in the Xhosa Cattle-Killing
Author:Peires, Jeffrey B.
Year:1986
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Volume:27
Issue:3
Pages:443-461
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social conflicts
Xhosa
Xhosa cattle killing
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Cultural Roles
Historical/Biographical
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/181411
Abstract:Analysis of the great cattle-killing movement of 18561857 among the Xhosa in what is now the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. A substantial minority, perhaps fifteen percent of all Xhosa, refused to obey the prophetess Nongqawuse's orders to kill their cattle and destroy their corn. This divided Xhosaland into two parties, the amathamba ('soft' ones, or believers) and the amagogotya ('hard' ones, or unbelievers). The affiliation of individuals was partly determined by a number of factors - lungsickness in cattle, political attitude towards the Cape Colony, religious beliefs, kinship, age and gender - but none of them was sufficiently important to constitute the basis of either party. The key to understanding the division lies in an analysis of the Xhosa terms 'soft' and 'hard'. 'Softness' denotes the submissiveness of the individual to the common will of the community, whereas 'hardness' denotes the determination of the individual to pursue his own ends. Notes, ref.
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