What does Chaka by Thomas Mofolo suggest about the impact of European Imperialism on Africa

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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On the occasion of his imminent murder by two of his half brothers and an accomplice, Chaka utters the following:

'You are killing me in the hope that you will be kings when I am dead, whereas you are wrong, that is not the way it would be because umlungu, the white man is coming, and it is he who will rule you and you will be his servants.'

Chaka's prophetic words foreshadow the arrival of white colonists who will overthrow, dominate and enslave all the original inhabitants of the then Zulu Kingdom.

His words suggest that the natives would have no recourse against the imposition of the colonists' will against theirs, that their attempts in resisting colonisation and eventual domination, would be fruitless. They would be defeated in all their attempts at resistance. The imperialists would be much too powerful a force to resist. The eventual result would be the enslavement and eventual dehumanisation of all the natives.

The suggestion is that of complete domination. Not only would the inhabitants lose their freedom, but they would lose all claims to property and the rights attached thereto as well. Their defeat will be total, the onslaught by the imperialists will be so forceful and devastating, that it would cow the entire Zulu nation - they would be forced to obey their new masters and would not be allowed to challenge their authority. Their new masters would rule with impunity and destroy the basic structures and cultures on which the Zulus had built their society. All this would be wrenched from them and will be replaced by a new culture, new laws and a new religion and they would have no choice but to accept, or be brutally punished or exterminated if they should resist.

The suggestion therefore is that European culture, traditions, values and religion would be imposed on native Africans and would be viciously enforced. That democracy would have no place and that the rule of the imperialists would be autocratic and tyrannical, and that any individual, tribe or nation which opposes its rule, would be punished in a most severe and brutal manner.    

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