The Heart of Redness comprises two narrative strands: one which is set only four years after the first democratic elections in South Africa and one that explores the 1856–57 “Cattle Killing Movement” and discloses the early encounters between the Xhosa and the British colonizers. Retrieving the past episode originated in the visions of prophetess Nongqawuse and aligning it with the contemporary discussion surrounding issues of economic and social development raised by the proposal of a tourism project for the village of Qolorha, Mda successfully articulates the complex elements that have marked past and present South African culture and society. In Mda’s novel, the village of Qolorha and the character of Nongqawuse are released from their negative association with one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of the Xhosa and transformed into a tourist attraction that has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development of the local population. Mda’s rescue of Qolorha from the threat of massified tourism, and his recovery of Nongqawuse as a meaningful character for the history of the Xhosa, emphasize the importance of alternative development models and the relevance of revising biased historical narratives that often served manipulative objectives.


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pp. 127-151
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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