Abstract

The Xhosa missionary Tiyo Soga appears, but does not speak, in H. I. E. Dhlomo's play about the 1856-57 Xhosa cattle killing, The Girl Who Killed to Save: Nongqause the Liberator. Archival evidence demonstrates that an unattributed song in the play is from a hymn by Tiyo Soga.While this nexus may not constitute evidence of the "genuine intertextuality" that Malvern van Wyk Smith seeks in postapartheid literary historiography, I argue that the (perhaps unwitting) presence of a hymn by Tiyo Soga contributes to the profound ambivalence of Dhlomo's play, which is also evident in Dhlomo's negotiation of colonial accounts of the cattle killing. For writers borrowing the voices of their predecessors, citing or ventriloquizing textual ancestors is as precarious and productive a process as is claiming to hear the voice of literal ancestors for prophets like Nongqawuse. What kind of reading practice can attend to such revenant voices?

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 51-73
Launched on MUSE
2005-02-07
Open Access
No
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