Bite-size Review: Wrath of the Ancestors | A.C Jordan


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The Wrath of the Ancestors | A C Jordan


Once you open the first page, you’re transported to the heart of the Mpondomise region, camping around a blazing fire, wrapped in ochre blankets and enraptured by the storytelling performance. And in this performance, Jordan tells a tragic-fatalistic story about Zwelinzima, a missionary educated Xhosa prince, who reluctantly leaves university to take his rightful place as Chief of the Mpondomise. His inauguration fuels a clash of cultures and moralistic values between Mpondomise customs and beliefs against European civilisation and Christianity. Tragedy unfolds when Zwelinzima marries his childhood sweetheart, and advocates monogamy, refusing to honor his father’s dying wish. The elder, Ngxabane, is emblematic of traditional reverence towards Mpondomise customs and strongly refutes European influence – so the disobedience of a royal ancestral wish wrought calamities upon Chief Zwelimzima, his family and ultimately the chiefdom.

Beautifully told: embellished with Xhosa praise poetry, idioms, proverbs and customary rites! Though can be a bit awkward to read at times, due to translation technicalities, it truly is a classic to revere. Ingqumbo Yeminyanya (The Wrath of the Ancestors) is the first novel to be composed and published in Xhosa (South African language) in 1940 by Archibald Campbell Jordan. Translated into English (1980) and Afrikaans (1990).

(Recommend Ad Donker Publishers 2003 edition)



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