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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'There is no meat that tastes better than human flesh!': Christian converts' tales of cannibalism in late nineteenth-century Sekhukhuneland
Author:Kirkaldy, AlanISNI
Year:2005
Periodical:Historia: amptelike orgaan
Volume:50
Issue:2
Pages:25-61
Language:English
Geographic terms:South Africa
Transvaal
Subjects:cannibalism
social history
missions
Abstract:In Sekhukhuneland, during the 1860s, sixteen converts to Christianity told director Hermann Theodor Wangemann of the Berlin Mission in the Transvaal (South Africa) and missionary Alexander Merensky horrific tales of their lives as 'cannibals' prior to having been saved by the Lord. The Berlin Mission published a number ot these testimonies. Close reading of the accounts reveals common threads running through them. The picture that emerges is that of horrors unleashed in a society suffering serious dislocation. The uniformity of the tales could be read either as indicating an element of veracity or as signifying missionary editing and missionary fantasy. The present author argues that it cannot be merely assumed that the tales are pure missionary fantasy. He first examines accounts of cannibalism in general and then discusses tales of cannibalism in the context of the so-called 'mfecane' / 'difaqane'. Next, he looks at the tales in more depth, in the context of the local missionaries and the possible reasons that the converts may have had for telling them. He concludes with some possible alternative explanations. Notes, ref., sum. in English and Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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