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In the mid-nineteenth century, in the village of Qolorha on the eastern Cape coast, a girl called Nongqawuse brought a message from the ancestors to the amaXhosa people: to slaughter their cattle and destroy their cropts, so that the ancestors would return from the dead, bringing with them new cattle and crops, and drive the white colonists into the sea. People were divided between Believers, who slew their cattle, and Unbelievers, who did not. The prophecies did not come true, and the power of the amaXhosa people was shattered. One hundred and fifty years later, the feud between the Believers and the Unbelievers still festers in Qolorha, as the villagers take opposing sides on every issue. When the village is faced witha plan to build a casino and holiday resort, the feud threatens to erupt into open conflict. Moving betwen the worlds of contemporary characters and their nineteenth-century ancestors, Zakes Mda’s new novel is a triumph of imaginative and historical writing, showing how the past continues to live in the present.


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