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African Apocalypse

African Apocalypse

Wits University Press

  • R 16000


The devastating influenza epidemic of 1918 ripped through southern Africa. In its aftermath, revivalist and millenarian movements sprouted. Prophets appeared bearing messages of resistance, redemption, and renewal.African Apocalypse: The Story of Nontetha Nkwenkwe, A Twentieth-Century Prophetis the remarkable story of one such prophet, a middle-aged Xhosa woman named Nontetha. After surviving the deadly virus, Nontetha proclaimed that a series of dreams revealed to her that the influenza had been a punishment from God. Consequently, she embarked on a mission to reform her society.

She imposed numerous prohibitions and rules on her followers. In a parallel movement, in 1919, millenarian Israelites congregated in the holy village of Ntabelanga, 100 miles north of Nontetha's area, to await the end of the world. In May 1921, police killed nearly 200 Israelites near Queenstown in a showdown over attempts to expel the settlers.

Accused of sedition by an alarmed government, Nontetha was committed to Fort Beaufort Mental Hospital in 1922. On Nontetha's death in 1935, officials buried her in an unmarked pauper's grave. In 1997, Edgar and Sapire located Nontetha's grave. Of Edgar's efforts to return Nontetha to her home, theNew York Timessaid, "One would not expect, perhaps, that a mild-mannered professor from Howard University would turn out to be the Indiana Jones of South Africa."

African ApocalypseåÊtouches on a variety of themes, including African Christianity, gender, protest, the social history of madness, and the engagement of professional historians in contemporary issues.

About the author
Robert R. Edgar is Professor of African Studies at Howard University and the author ofAn African American in South Africa: Travel Notes of Ralph J. Bunche(1992).

Hilary Sapire is Lecturer in Imperial and Commonwealth History at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is an editor of theJournal of Southern African Studies

Author Robert R. Edgar
Contributor Hilary Sapire
ISBN 0896802086, 9780896802087
Pages 190p.

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