Original Articles

Thomas Mofolo's “Chaka”: Literary interpretations and modifications of a hero

DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1984.10586574
Author(s): Peter Sulzer, Switzerland


In Mofolo's view Chaka was in the first instance not the founder of a nation but a human being eager to attain power. He was furthermore the cause for the difaqane, the period of chaotic wars and migrations of peoples and tribes in Southern Africa motivating Moshoeshoe to found the Basotho nation. Kunene lets the period of troubles start before Chaka rules the country whereby he acquits the Zulu king from the catastrophic consequences of his rule. Mofolo did not imply—as the West African authors were to do—a stimulation to anti-White politics when he let the dying Chaka utter the words “Umlungu will come and it is he who will rule, and ye will be his bondmen”; nor was the very last passage of the novel meant to prophesy Chaka's reincarnation in a united modern Africa.

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