by A. Mager and J.P. Velelo
In rural South Africa today, there are signs that chieftaincies are resurging after having been disbanded in colonial times. Among these is the amaTshatshu of the Eastern Cape, which was dis-established in 1852 by the British, and recognised once more under the democratic ANC dispensation, in 2003.
Bawana, leader of the amaTshatshu, was the first Thembu chief to cross the Kei River, in the mid-1820s, to open up the northeastern frontier of the Cape Colony. His successors and followers fought the British in the frontier wars but were defeated. In tracing his history and that of his descendants this book explores the meaning of chieftainship in South Africa — at the time of colonial conquest, under apartheid’s Bantustans, and now, post apartheid. It illustrates not only the story of a beleaguered and dispossessed people but also the ways in which power is constructed. In addition, it is about gender and land, and about belonging, identity and naming.