1887

n Historia - "There is no meat that tastes better than human flesh!" Christian converts' tales of cannibalism in late nineteenth-century Sekhukhuneland

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Abstract

<b>"Daar is geen vleis wat lekkerder smaak as mensvleis nie!" Christen bekeerlinge se vertellings oor kannibalisme in die laat negentiende-eeuse Sekhukhuneland</b> <br>Gedurende die 1860's het 'n aantal bekeerlinge tot die Christendom sendeling Alexander Merensky en sendingdirekteur Hermann Theodor Wangemann gruwelike stories vertel oor hulle lewe as "kannibale" voordat hulle deur die Here gered is. Die Berlynse Sending het 'n aantal van hierdie getuienisse oor hulle bekering gepubliseer. Dit is besonder goed deur die lesers in Duitsland ontvang. <br>In vroeëre historiografie is verhale oor kannibalisme gedurende die <I>mfecane / difaqane&lt;/I&gt; onvoorwaardelik as "waar" aanvaar. In die afgelope paar jaar het baie historici aangevoer dat dit eerder as rassistiese regverdigings vir verowerings en grondbesetting, of as simboliese kommentaar op sosiale ontwrigting gelees moet word. <br>Sommige van die Berlynse Sending se weergawes is so beeldend in die styl van avontuurliteratuur geskryf, dat dit sinvol is om laasgenoemde beskouing daarop van toepassing te maak. My argument is egter dat ons nie bloot kan aanneem dat hierdie verhale suiwer sendeling-fantasie is nie. Dit is ook moontlik dat hierdie stories wat die bekeerlinge aan Merensky en Wangemann vertel het, inderdaad hulle persoonlike lewensverhale verteenwoordig het. Dit laat die vraag ontstaan waarom die informante juis dit vir die sendelinge vertel het. Hierin lê die kernvraagstuk van die artikel. In my ondersoek daarna, verken ek kwessies van "othering", kannibalisme as 'n metafoor vir wanorde (en terselfdertyd, 'n viering van hiërargie), kannibalisme en die uitroei daarvan as 'n bevestiging van identiteit, en die moontlikheid dat antropofagie 'n "realiteit" in die streek kon gewees het.

During the 1860s, a number of converts to Christianity in Sekhukhuneland told Missionary Alexander Merensky and Mission Director Hermann Theodor Wangemann horrific tales of their lives as "cannibals" before they were saved by the Lord. The Berlin Mission published a number of these testimonies of salvation. These were received extremely well by readers in Germany. <br>Earlier historiography used to accept tales of cannibalism during the <I>mfecane / difaqane&lt;/I&gt; uncritically as being "true". In recent years, many historians have argued that they should rather be read either as racist justifications for conquest and land seizure, or as symbolic commentaries on social dislocation. <br>Parts of the Berlin Mission accounts are so graphically written in the style of adventure literature that they seem to lend themselves to the latter reading. However, I argue that we cannot merely assume that these tales are pure missionary fantasy. It is likely that the converts, in fact, told these stories to Merensky and Wangemann, presenting them as their own personal life-histories. This raises the question of why the informants told the missionaries the tales that they did. This forms the core issue of the article. In engaging it, I explore issues of "othering", cannibalism as a metaphor for disorder (at the same time, a celebration of hierarchy), cannibalism and its eradication as an assertion of identity, and the probable "reality" of anthropophagy in the region.

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/content/hist/50/2/EJC38197
2005-11-01
2016-12-07
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