Chaka / Edition 1 available in Paperback
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This novel is the first of many works of literature that takes the great Zulu leader, king, and emperor as its subject. The story is well-known, partly due to Mofolo but also to the works of literature by Badian, Senghor, and Mazisi Kunene. O.R. Dathorne has said, "The historical Chaka is only the impetus for Mofolo's psychological study of the nature of repudiation." Mofolo presents it as a study of human passion, of an uncontrolled and then uncontrollable ambition leading to the moral destruction of the character and the inevitable punishment.
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Chaka based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
This is a somewhat unreadable book detailing the life of Chaka, a unifying king of previously unaffiliated and often warring Southern African communities/kingdoms. The book is halting and the flow is strained. The author has jumbled spurts of accounts of the daily life of 19th century African tribal life, spiritual rituals, political philosophy, and other detail. This winds around the life story of Chaka, an orphan of sorts, born into a situation where everyone around him in power wants him dead or sent away. The story follows his life and extreme struggles to become the most powerful tribal king in recent memory in Southern Africa. The story is filled with myth almost enough to seem cosmological. One especially painful recurring gush is the repetitive, repeating discourses of Chaka's spiritual mentor/witch doctor, who says the same five sentences more than twenty times throughout the book. Ultimately Chaka returns to a small kinghood and slowly accumulates and stretches his realm. In the process, he betrays the one closest to him and becomes something very far from his original innocent self.
Thomas Mofolo took me on a tale. I became a character between the pages, and read through it to quickly. Mofolo left me wanting more. Historical tid-bits, fiction and non-fiction make for a deciphering read. For a history buff like me, it's all gravy.
I enjoyed this novel. I saw the miniseries when I was a teenager and then read the novel for a African Lit. course. It not only tells the dramatic tale of Chaka's rise and fall, it gives a very descriptive image of African tribal life, traditions and customs. Being that it is written by an African, the audience can gather that he deals with delicate subject matter in a respectful manner. Keep in mind that everything is not historically accurate, Mofolo adds some twists and turns to make the story more exciting and engaging.