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Title:Belonging to fiction? A reconsideration of H.A. Junod in the light of his novel 'Zidji'
Author:Strydom, Bronwyn
Periodical:African Historical Review
Geographic term:South Africa
African culture
race relations
About person:Henri Alexandre Junod (1863-1934)ISNI
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17532520802249480
Abstract:Swiss missionary Henri Alexandre Junod has been widely recognized for his extensive entomological, botanical, linguistic and anthropological contributions regarding southern Africa. However, at the time when his most acclaimed work, 'The life of a South African tribe' (1912), was published Junod also wrote a little-studied novel, 'Zidji: étude de moeurs sud-africaines' (1911), in which he endeavoured to give a detailed portrayal of South African society. Interestingly, he chose fiction as the best vehicle for conveying what he saw as the 'truth' of the situation. As the only novel written by Junod this is a unique piece of writing in relation to his other work and its study shows that it is essential to an understanding of Junod. In 'Zidji' he attempts to give a complete picture of South African society at the beginning of the twentieth century by recounting a black convert's experiences of what Junod considered to be the three main influences acting upon black society of the time, that is, tribal life (paganism), the mission station (Christianity) and white society (civilization). By considering his depiction of South Africa, in particular his presentation of 'civilization', further light is shed on his sentiments and perspective of the missionary encounter, social change and race relations in South Africa. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]