n English in Africa - Three tales of Theal : biography, history and ethnography on the Eastern Frontier

Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



The three narrative strands that inform this essay - the life-story of George McCall Theal, the history of colonialism in South Africa which he wrote, and the Xhosa folktale - are, to a large extent, incongruent with each other, and their interweaving produces an ungainly, sometimes ambivalent overarching narrative. The narrative nevertheless hangs together, perhaps as much because of its gaps and contradictions, as by dint of its points of contiguity. In postcolonial terms, Theal's influential historical and ethnographic texts can be seen to "[employ] a system of representation, a regime of truth that is structurally similar to realism" (Bhabha 1994, 71), but their dissonances point to their contrivance - and that is the point of departure for this study.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error