Xhosa Cattle-killing

Xhosa Cattle-killing

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  • Morning, 1856
  • The whole community would rise from the dead; that all the cattle now living must be slaughtered.
  • Why don't you kill your cow?!?! You're the reason there's no New World!
  • Because it's healthy and we need food.
  • Nongqawuse, a 15-year old girl, was by the Gxarha River when she saw a man believed to be her ancestor. What he said convinced the Xhosa that they needed to slaughter their cattle in order to regain their past glory and get rid of their colonizers.
  • I'm really really hungry...
  • The majority of the Xhosa killed their cattle in  belief that their ancestors would be resurrected (similar to the Christian belief in Jesus's ressurection), since Nongqawuse prophecied a golden age for the Xhosa
  • Please give us the work and FOOD!
  • The paramount chief, Sarhili, sent emissaries to investigate the prophecies, and they believed them to be true. Thus, Sarhili gave his full support of the movement, which spurred more people to kill their cattle. However, there were people who resisted against the cattle-killing, and were blamed when there was no golden age.
  • After seeing that the Xhosa was in widespread starvation and destitution, Sarhili discussed the cattle-killing with Nongqawuse, and came back declaring that the New World would start in 8 days. During these 8 days, cattle-killing rose dramatically. However, no New World was started, and an estimated 40,000 people died from hunger.
  • Taking advantage of the Xhosa's decline, the British offered those who were willing to work anywhere in Cape colony for any wage would be given food and relief and recruited them across the border to Cape Colony.
  • We're taking you to Cape Town then.
  • (1.) Culturally, belief in prophecies among women were common in Xhosa society. Cleansing and purification were important religious practices as well, which justified killing their sick cattle.   (2.) The Xhosa's cattle were already dying from a lung sickness, which was seen as contaminated.   (3.) Christian missionaires embedded the idea of ressurection which justified the idea of the New World
  • Historical reasons why they killed their cattle
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