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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Central Beliefs of the Xhosa Cattle-Killing
Author:Peires, Jeffrey B.
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:South Africa
colonial conquest
Xhosa cattle killing
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:The Xhosa cattle-killing movement of 1856-1857 cannot be explained as a superstitious 'pagan reaction' to the intrusion of colonial rule and Christian civilization. The author advances three propositions concerning the cattle killing: 1) the form which the movement took, namely the killing of cattle, was suggested and determined by the lungsickness epidemic of 1854; the Xhosa theory of disease indicated that the sick cattle had been contaminated by witchcraft practices, and that these tained cattle would have to be slaughtered lest they infect the new cattle which were to rise; 2) the resurrection of the dead was only an aspect of a much wider event which the Xhosa believed to be in prospect, namely the regeneration of the earth and the reenactment of the original creation; 3) Christian doctrines supplemented and elaborated these indigenous beliefs; Christian and pre-Christian elements fused under the heroic leadership of the expected redeemer, the son of Sifuba-sibanzi. Notes, ref., sum.