kikisoblu aka “ princess angeline ”? W r i t i n g
the essay is three pages. please read the requirements!!!!!
Like with other analyses that you have done, you should begin this essay with a short, succinct summary
of “The Old Chief Mshlanga.” Be sure to identify both the author and the title of the work in your opening
sentence. In your first paragraph, after the summary (not more than 100 words), you should then identify the
more prominent themes that stand out in Lessing’s short story. Pick one or two of those themes to write about,
making it clear in your own thesis statement that “this theme” and/or “that theme” is what you will be focusing
on (DO NOT use “I” statements. Do not simply say, “I will write about the importance of maintaining human
dignity.” That’s too easy. Instead, you could word your thesis statement like this: “The importance of
maintaining human dignity as a way of keeping the peace plays a central role in Doris Lessing’s ‘The Old Chief
Mshlanga.’” Of course there are a million other thesis statements you could come up with; this is just one.
Then, over the course of your essay, focus on that one theme (or two themes), substantiating your claim with
quotes from Lessing’s short story. But mostly, this assignment is about fresh insight on your part.
After you have read Doris Lessing’s short story, “The Old Chief
Mshlanga,” I want you to think about the various ethical themes that
run through it, such as the importance of dignity, the desire for
autonomy, the fear of the unknown, the impact of strained race
relations, and the idea of private ownership, whether it be of land or
of other people. If you think of other themes that emerge — and
there are plenty of them, believe me — be sure to make note of
them. Then, what I want you to do, in your own words, is to take one
or two of those themes and discuss their significance to the story and its overall message. Additionally, I want
you to think about how those themes are relevant in our own lives today, and how Lessing’s story is analogous
to similar events in American history (other histories work fine too: think British). To do this, you will need to
engage in some research, gathering facts and information from two or three scholarly sources, such as
textbooks and the library database, that credibly support your analysis and understanding of those historical
events and the impact they had, and continue to have, on affected people everywhere. To be sure, I want you
to write at least three full pages of authoritative analysis, with proper source attribution and documentation, as
well as a Works Cited page, that focuses on the importance of Lessing’s underlying theme and its ongoing
relevance for all of us. That’s the beauty of great literature: it allows us to reflect upon timeless themes and to
respond to them in a thoughtful and insightful manner.
Some common errors I have encountered in the past with students include misidentification of the Old
Chief Mshlanga as a Native American Indian. That is not true. He is an African tribal chief, and the story itself is
set in sub-Saharan Africa. Those details must be clear. Another error that I see repeatedly is students assuming
that the young narrator and protagonist of the story is Doris Lessing herself. Again, not true. Although much of
what Doris Lessing has written is semi-autobiographical (she was British but was raised in Rhodesia, now
Zimbabwe), this story itself is more or less fiction. Also keep in mind that it is a “story,” not a “passage,” not an
“article,” not an “essay.” It is a “story.” And it is a brilliant piece of modern literature.
Chances are pretty good you will correctly identify the one tragic event from American history that is
clearly analogous to Lessing’s story. If and when you identify that event, be sure to use it in its proper context,
clearly connecting it to what occurs in the story. To be sure, there are many, many such analogous events
throughout history, and you could (and should) very easily connect them to the story as well.
Finally, there is one very subtle but very disturbing event that is about to unfold in this story. I do not
want to give it away, but if you remember the prompt from your last essay about The Twilight Zone and “The
Eye of the Beholder,” you should be able to make a connection. Write about it. It’s too important to miss.
For some much needed extra credit, you can do the following assignment. Feel free to integrate this
extra credit into your essay over “The Old Chief Mshlanga.” This extra credit will involve some additional
research, but it is a fascinating yet sad story that says much about American culture and American values.
Please connect with me thru ACC’s online tutoring very soon. I need to meet with everyone one-on-one.
Who was Kikisoblu aka “Princess Angeline”? Do your research. Look at the photos below. Make
connections. BIG connections. Link the past with the present. Link Kikisoblu to “The Old Chief Mshlanga” and
especially to “What You Pawn I Will Redeem.” Also, open the website below and browse thru it, explaining in
your own words what it is, what its mission is, and how it connects with the Sherman Alexie story “What You
Pawn I Will Redeem.” Also read the Indian Policy statements below and integrate them into your response too.
Go to this web address: Read carefully please.
The Old Chief Mshlanga
(1951) by Doris Lessing
They were good, the years of ranging the bush over her father’s farm,
which, like every white farm, was largely unused, broken only occasionally by
small patches of cultivation. In between, nothing but trees, the long sparse grass,
thorn and cactus and gully, grass and outcrop and thorn. And a jutting piece of
rock which had been thrust up from the warm soil of Africa unimaginable eras of
time ago, washed into hollows and whorls by sun and wind that had travelled so
many thousands of miles of space and bush, would hold the weight of a small girl
whose eyes were sightless for anything but a pale willowed river, a pale gleaming
castle – a small girl singing: ‘Out flew the web and floated wide, the mirror
cracked from side to side…’
Pushing her way through the green aisles of mealie stalks, the leaves
arching like cathedrals veined with sunlight far overhead, with the packed red
earth underfoot, a fine lace of red-starred witchweed would summon up a black
bent figure croaking premonitions: the Northern witch, bred of cold Northern
forests, would stand before her among the mealie fields, and it was the mealie
fields that faded and fled, leaving her among the gnarled roots of an oak, snow
falling thick and soft, the woodcutter’s fire glowing red welcome through crowding
A white child, opening its eyes curiously on a sun-suffused landscape, a
gaunt and violent landscape, might be supposed to accept it as her own, to take
the msasa trees and the thorn trees as familiars, to feel her blood running free
and responsive to the swing of the seasons.
This child could not see a msasa tree, or the thorn, for what they were.
Her books held tales of alien fairies, her rivers ran slow and peaceful, and she
knew the shape of the leaves of an ash or an oak, the names of the little
creatures that lived in English streams, when the words ‘the veld’ meant
strangeness, though she could remember nothing else.
Because of this, for many years, it was the veld that seemed unreal; the
sun was a foreign sun, and the wind spoke a strange language.
The black people on the farm were as remote as the trees and the rocks.
They were an amorphous black mass, mingling and thinning and massing like
tadpoles, faceless, who existed merely to serve, to say ‘Yes, Bass,” take their
money and go. They changed season by season, moving from one farm to the
next, according to their outlandish needs, which one did not have to understand,
coming from perhaps hundreds of miles North or East, passing on after a few
months – where? Perhaps even as far away as the fabled gold mines of
Johannesburg, where the pay was so much better than the few shillings a month
and the double handful of mealie meal twice a day which they earned in that part
The child was taught to take them for granted: the servants in the house
would come running a hundred yards to pick up a book if she dropped it. She
was called ‘Nkosikaas’ – Chieftainess, even by the black children her own age.
Later, when the farm grew too small to hold her curiosity, she carried a
gun in the crook of her arm and wandered many miles a day, from vlei to vlei,
from kopje to kopje, accompanied by two dogs: the dogs and the gun were an
armour against fear. Because of them she never felt fear.
If a native came into sight along the kaffir paths half a mile away, the dogs
would flush him up a tree as if he were a bird. If he expostulated (in his uncouth
language which was by itself ridiculous) that was cheek. If one was in a good
mood, it could be a matter for laughing. Otherwise one passed on, hardly
glancing at the angry man in the tree.
On the rare occasions when white children met together they could amuse
themselves by hailing a passing native in order to make a buffoon of him; they
could set the dogs on him and watch him run; they could tease a small black
child as if he were a puppy – save that they would not throw stones and sticks at
a dog without a sense of guilt.
Later still, certain questions presented themselves in the child’s mind; and
because the answers were not easy to accept, they were silenced by an even
greater arrogance of manner.
It was even impossible to think of the black people who worked about the
house as friends, for if she talked to one of them, her mother would come running
anxiously: ‘Come away; you mustn’t talk to natives.’
It was this instilled consciousness of danger, of something unpleasant,
that made it easy to laugh out loud, crudely, if a servant made a mistake in his
English or if he failed to understand an order – there is a certain kind of laughter
that is fear, afraid of itself.
One evening, when I was about fourteen, I was walking down the side of a
mealie field that had been newly ploughed, so that the great red clods showed
fresh and tumbling to the vlei beyond, like a choppy red sea; it was that hushed
and listening hour, when the birds send long sad calls from tree to tree, and all
the colours of earth and sky and leaf are deep and golden. I had my rifle in the
curve of my arm, and the dogs were at my heels.
In front of me, perhaps a couple of hundred yards away, a group of three
Africans came into sight around the side of a big antheap. I whistled the dogs
close in to my skirts and let the gun swing in my hand, and advanced, waiting for
them to move aside, off the path, in respect for my passing. But they came on
steadily, and the dogs looked at me for the command to chase. I was angry. It
was ‘cheek’ for a native not to stand off a path, the moment he caught sight of
In front walked an old man, stooping his weight on to a stick, his hair
grizzled white, a dark red blanket slung over his shoulders like a cloak. Behind
him came two young men, carrying bundles of pots, assegais, hatchets.
The group was not a usual one. They were not natives seeking work.
These had an air of dignity, of quietly following their own purpose. It was the
dignity that checked my tongue. I walked quietly on, talking softly to the growling
dogs, till I was ten paces away. Then the old man stopped, drawing his blanket
‘’Morning, Nkosikaas,’ he said, using the customary greeting for any time
of the day.
‘Good morning,’ I said. ‘Where are you going?’ My voice was a little
The old man spoke in his own language, then one of the young men
stepped forward politely and said in careful English: ‘My Chief travels to see his
brothers beyond the river.’
A Chief! I thought, understanding the pride that made the old man stand
before me like an equal – more than an equal, for he showed courtesy, and I
The old man spoke again, wearing dignity like an inherited garment, still
standing ten paces off, flanked by his entourage, not looking at me (that would
have been rude) but directing his eyes somewhere over my head at the trees.
‘You are the little Nkosikaas from the farm of Bass Jordan?’
‘That’s right,’ I said.
‘Perhaps your father does not remember,’ said the interpreter for the old
man, ‘but there was an affair with some goats. I remember seeing you when you
were…’ The young man held his hand at knee level and smiled.
We all smiled.
‘What is your name?’ I asked.
‘This is Chief Mshlanga,’ said the young man.
‘I will tell my father that I met you,’ I said.
The old man said: ‘My greetings to your father, little Nkosikaas.’
‘Good morning,’ I said politely, finding the politeness difficult, from lack of
‘’Morning, little Nkosikaas,’ said the old man, and stood aside to let me
I went by, my gun hanging awkwardly, the dogs sniffing and growling,
cheated of their favourite game of chasing natives like animals.
Not long afterwards I read in an old explorer’s book the phrase: ‘Chief
Mshlanga’s country.’ It went like this: ‘Our destination was Chief Mshlanga’s
country, to the north of the river; and it was our desire to ask his permission to
prospect for gold in his territory.’
The phrase ‘ask his permission’ was so extraordinary to a white child,
brought up to consider all natives as things to use, that it revived those
questions, which could not be suppressed: they fermented slowly in my mind.
On another occasion one of those old prospectors who still move over
Africa looking for neglected reefs, with their hammers and tents, and pans for
sifting gold from crushed rock, came to the farm and, in talking of the old days,
used that phrase again: ‘This was the Old Chief’s country,’ he said. ‘It stretched
from those mountains over there, way back to the river, hundreds of miles of
country.’ That was his name for our district: ‘The Old Chief’s Country’; he did not
use our name for it – a new phrase which held no implication of usurped
As I read more books about the time when this part of Africa was opened
up, not much more than fifty years before, I found Old Chief Mshlanga had been
a famous man, known to all the explorers and prospectors. But then he had been
young; or maybe it was his father or uncle they spoke of – I never found out.
During that year I met him several times in the part of the farm that was
traversed by natives moving over the country. I learned that the path up the side
of the big red field where the birds sang was the recognized highway for
migrants. Perhaps I even haunted it in the hope of meeting him: being greeted by
him, the exchange of courtesies, seemed to answer the questions that troubled
Soon I carried a gun in a different spirit; I used it for shooting food and not
to give me confidence. And now the dogs learned better manners. When I saw a
native approaching, we offered and took greetings; and slowly that other
landscape in my mind faded, and my feet struck directly on the African soil, and I
saw the shapes of tree and hill clearly, and the black people moved back, as it
were, out of my life: it was as if I stood aside to watch a slow intimate dance of
landscape and men, a very old dance, whose steps I could not learn.
But I thought: this is my heritage, too; I was bred here; it is my country as
well as the black man’s country; and there is plenty of room for all of us, without
elbowing each other off the pavements and roads.
It seemed it was only necessary to let free that respect I felt when I was
talking with Old Chief Mshlanga, to let both black and white people meet gently,
with tolerance for each other’s differences: it seemed quite easy.
Then, one day, something new happened. Working in our house as
servants were always three natives: cook, houseboy, garden boy. They used to
change as the farm natives changed: staying for a few months, then moving on
to a new job, or back home to their kraals. They were thought of as ‘good’ or
‘bad’ natives; which meant: how did they behave as servants? Were they lazy,
efficient, obedient, or disrespectful? If the family felt good-humoured, the phrase
was: ‘What can you expect from raw black savages?’ If we were angry, we said:
‘These damned niggers, we would be much better off without them.’
One day, a white policeman was on his rounds of the district, and he said
laughingly: ‘Did you know you have an important man in your kitchen?’
‘What!’ exclaimed my mother sharply. ‘What do you mean?’
‘A Chief’s son.’ The policeman seemed amused. ‘He’ll boss the tribe when
the old man dies.’
‘He’d better not put on a Chief’s son act with me,’ said my mother.
When the policeman left, we looked with different eyes at our cook; he
was a good worker, but he drank too much at week-ends – that was how we
He was a tall youth, with very black skin, like black polished metal, his
tightly-growing black hair parted white man’s fashion at one side, with a metal
comb from the store stuck into it; very polite, very distant, very quick to obey an
order. Now it had been pointed out, we said: ‘Of course, you can see. Blood
My mother became strict with him now she knew about his birth and
prospects. Sometimes, when she lost her temper, she would say: ‘You aren’t the
Chief yet, you know.’ And he would answer her very quietly, his eyes on the
ground: ‘Yes, Nkosikaas.’
One afternoon he asked for a whole day off, instead of the customary halfday, to go home next Sunday.
‘How can you go home in one day?’
‘It will take me half an hour on my bicycle,’ he explained.
I watched the direction he took; and the next day I went off to look for his
kraal; I understood he must be Chief Mshlanga’s successor: there was no other
kraal near enough our farm.
Beyond our boundaries on that side the country was new to me. I followed
unfamiliar paths past kopjes that till now had been part of the jagged horizon,
hazed with distance. This was Government land, which had never been
cultivated by white men; at first I could not understand why it was that it
appeared, in merely crossing the boundary, I had entered a completely fresh type
of landscape. It was a wide green valley, where a small river sparkled, and vivid
water-birds darted over the rushes. The grass was thick and soft to my calves,
the trees stood tall and shapely.
I was used to our farm, whose hundreds of acres of harsh eroded soil bore
trees that had been cut for the mine furnaces and had grown thin and twisted,
where the cattle had dragged the grass flat, leaving innumerable criss-crossing
trails that deepened each season into gullies, under the force of the rains.
This country had been left untouched, save for prospectors whose picks
had struck a few sparks from the surface of the rocks as they wandered by; and
for migrant natives whose passing had left, perhaps, a charred patch on the trunk
of a tree where their evening fire had nestled.
It was very silent: a hot morning with pigeons cooing throatily, the midday
shadows lying dense and thick with clear yellow spaces of sunlight between, and
in all that wide green park-like valley, not a human soul but myself.
I was listening to the quick regular tapping of a woodpecker when slowly a
chill feeling seemed to grow up from the small of my back to my shoulders, in a
constricting spasm like a shudder, and at the roots of my hair a tingling sensation
began and ran down over the surface of my flesh, leaving me goose-fleshed and
cold, though I was damp with sweat. Fever? I thought; then uneasily, turned to
look over my shoulder; and realized suddenly that this was fear. For all the years
I had walked by myself over this country I had never known a moment’s
uneasiness; in the beginning because I had been supported by a gun and the
dogs, then because I had learnt an easy friendliness for the Africans I might
I had read of this feeling, how the bigness and silence of Africa, under the
ancient sun, grows dense and takes shape in the mind, till even the birds seem
to call menacingly, and a deadly spirit comes out of the trees and rocks. You
move warily, as if your every passing disturbs something old and evil, something
dark and big and angry that might suddenly rear and strike from behind. You look
at groves of entwined trees, and picture the animals that might be lurking there;
you look at the river running slowly, dropping from level to level through the vlei,
spreading into pools where at night the buck comes to drink, and the crocodiles
rise and drag them by their soft noses into underwater caves. Fear possessed
me. I found I was turning round and round, because of that shapeless menace
behind me that might reach out and take me; I kept glancing at the files of kopjes
which, seen from a different angle, seemed to change with every step so that
even known landmarks, like a big mountain that had sentinelled my world since I
first became conscious of it, showed an unfamiliar sunlit valley among its
foothills. I did not know where I was. I was lost. Panic seized me. I found I was
spinning round and round, staring anxiously at this tree and that, peering up at
the sun, which appeared to have moved into an eastern slant, shedding the sad
yellow light of sunset. Hours must have passed! I looked at my watch and found
that this state of meaningless terror had lasted perhaps ten minutes.
The point was that it was meaningless. I was not ten miles from home: I
had only to take my way back along the valley to find myself at the fence; away
among the foothills of the kopjes gleamed the roof of a neighbour’s house, and a
couple hours’ walking would reach it. This was the sort of fear that contracts the
flesh of a dog at night and sets him howling at the full moon. It had nothing to do
with what I thought or felt; and I was more disturbed by the fact that I could
become its victim than of the physical sensation itself: I walked steadily on,
quietened, in a divided mind, watching my own pricking nerves and apprehensive
glances from side to side with a disgusted amusement. Deliberately I set myself
to think of this village I was seeking, and what I should do when I entered it – if I
could find it, which was doubtful, since I was walking aimlessly and it might be
anywhere in the hundreds of thousands of acres of bush that stretched about me.
With my mind on that village, I realized that a new sensation was added to the
fear: loneliness. Now such a terror of isolation invaded me that I could hardly
walk; and if it were not that I came over the crest of a small rise and saw a village
below me, I should have turned and gone home. It was a cluster of thatched huts
in a clearing among trees. There were neat patches of mealies and pumpkins
and millet, and cattle grazed under some trees at a distance. Fowls scratched
among the huts, dogs lay sleeping on the grass, and goats friezed a kopje that
jutted up beyond a tributary of the river lying like an enclosing arm around the
As I came close I saw the huts were lovingly decorated with patterns of
yellow and red and ochre mud on the walls; and the thatch was tied in place with
plaits of straw.
This was not at all like our farm compound, a dirty and neglected place, a
temporary home for migrants who had no roots in it.
And now I did not know what to do next. I called a small black boy, who
was sitting on a log playing a stringed gourd, quite naked except for the strings of
blue beads round his neck, and said: ‘Tell the Chief I am here.’ The child stuck
his thumb in his mouth and stared shyly back at me.
For minutes I shifted my feet on the edge of what seemed a deserted
village, till at last the child scuttled off, and then some women came. They were
draped in bright cloths, with brass glinting in their ears and on their arms. They
also stared, silently: then turned to chatter among themselves.
I said again: ‘Can I see Chief Mshlanga?’ I saw they caught the name;
they did not understand what I wanted. I did not understand myself.
At last I walked through them and came past the huts and saw a clearing
under a big shady tree, where a dozen old men sat cross-legged on the ground,
talking. Chief Mshlanga was leaning back against the tree, holding a gourd in his
hand, from which he had been drinking. When he saw me, not a muscle of his
face moved, and I could see he was not pleased: perhaps he was afflicted with
my own shyness, due to being unable to find the right forms of courtesy for the
occasion. To meet me, on our farm, was one thing; but I should not have come
here. What had I expected? I could not join them socially: the thing was unheard
of. Bad enough that I, a white girl, should be walking the veld alone as a white
man might: and in this part of the bush where only Government officials had the
right to move.
Again I stood, smiling foolishly, while behind me stood the groups of
brightly-clad, chattering women, their faces alert with curiosity and interest, and
in front of me sat the old men, with old lined faces, their eyes guarded, aloof. It
was a village of ancients and children and women. Even the two young men who
kneeled beside the Chief were not those I had seen with him previously: the
young men were all away working on the white men’s farms and mines, and the
Chief must depend on relatives who were temporarily on holiday for his
‘The small white Nkosikaas is far from home,’ remarked the old man at
‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘it is far.’ I wanted to say: ‘I have come to pay you a
friendly visit, Chief Mshlanga.’ I could not say it. I might now be feeling an urgent
helpless desire to get to know these men and women as people, to be accepted
by them as a friend, but the truth was I had set out in a spirit of curiosity: I had
wanted to go to the village that one day our cook, the reserved and obedient
young man who got drunk on Sundays, would one day rule over.
‘The child of Nkosi Jordan is welcome,’ said Chief Mshlanga.
‘Thank you,’ I said, and could think of nothing more to say. There was a
silence, while the flies rose and began to buzz around my head; and the wind
shook a little in the thick green tree that spread its branches over the old men.
‘Good morning,’ I said at last. ‘I have to return now to my home.’
‘’Morning, little Nkosikaas,’ said Chief Mshlanga.
I walked away from the indifferent village, over the rise past the staring
amber-eyed goats, down through the tall stately trees into the rich green valley
where the river meandered and the pigeons cooed tales of plenty and the
woodpecker tapped softly.
The fear had gone; the loneliness had set into stiff-necked stoicism; there
was now a queer hostility in the landscape, a cold, hard, sullen indomitability that
walked with me, as strong as a wall, as intangible as smoke; it seemed to say to
me: you walk here as a destroyer. I went slowly homewards, with an empty heart:
I had learned that if one cannot call a country to heel like a dog, neither can one
dismiss the past with a smile in an easy gush of feeling, saying: I could not help
it, I am also victim.
I only saw Chief Mshlanga once again.
One night my father’s big red land was trampled down by small sharp
hooves, and it was discovered that the culprits were goats from Chief Mshlanga’s
kraal. This had happened once before, years ago.
My father confiscated all the goats. Then he sent a message to the Old
Chief that if he wanted them he would have to pay for the damage.
He arrived at our house at the time of sunset one evening, looking very old
and bent now, walking stiffly under his regally-draped blanket, leaning on a big
stick. My father sat himself down in his big chair below the steps of the house;
the old man squatted carefully on the ground before him, flanked by his two
The palaver was long and painful, because of the bad English of the
young man who interpreted, and because my father could not speak dialect, but
only kitchen kaffir.
From my father’s point of view, at least two hundred pounds worth of
damage had been done to the crop. He knew he could get the money from the
old man. He felt he was entitled to keep the goats. As for the Old Chief, he kept
repeating angrily: ‘Twenty goats! My people cannot lose twenty goats! We are
not rich, like the Nkosi Jordan, to lose twenty goats at once.’
My father did not think of himself as rich, but rather as very poor. He
spoke quickly and angrily in return, saying that the damage done meant a great
deal to him, and that he was entitled to the goats.
At last it grew so heated that the cook, the Chief’s son, was called from
the kitchen to be interpreter, and now my father spoke fluently in English, and our
cook translated rapidly so that the old man could understand how very angry my
father was. The young man spoke without emotion, in a mechanical way, his
eyes lowered, but showing how he felt in his position by a hostile uncomfortable
set of the shoulders.
It was now in the late sunset, the sky a welter of colours, the birds singing
their last songs, and the cattle, lowing peacefully, moving past us towards their
sheds for the night. It was the hour when Africa is most beautiful; and here was
this pathetic ugly scene, doing no one any good.
At last my father stated finally: ‘I’m not going to argue about it. I am
keeping the goats.’
The Old Chief flashed back in his own language: ‘That means that my
people will go hungry when the dry season comes.’
‘Go to the police, then,’ said my father, and looked triumphant.
There was, of course, no more to be said.
The old man sat silent, his head bent, his hands dangling helplessly over
his withered knees. Then he rose, the young men helping him, and he stood
facing my father. He spoke once again, very stiffly; and turned away and went
home to his village.
‘What did he say?’ asked my father of the young man, who laughed
uncomfortably and would not meet his eyes.
‘What did he say?’ insisted my father.
Our cook stood straight and silent, his brows knotted together. Then he
spoke. ‘My father says: All this land, this land you call yours, is his land, and
belongs to our people.’
Having made this statement, he walked off into the bush after his father,
and we did not see him again.
Our next cook was a migrant from Nyasaland, with no expectations of
Next time the policeman came on his rounds he was told this story. He
remarked: ‘That kraal has no right to be there; it should have been moved long
ago. I don’t know why no one has done anything about it. I’ll have a chat with the
Native Commissioner next week. I’m going over for tennis on Sunday, anyway.’
Some time later we heard that Chief Mshlanga and his people had been
moved two hundred miles east, to a proper native reserve; the Government land
was going to be opened up for white settlement soon.
I went to see the village again, about a year afterwards. There was
nothing there. Mounds of red mud, where the huts had been, had long swathes
of rotting thatch over them, veined with the red galleries of the white ants. The
pumpkin vines rioted everywhere, over the bushes, up the lower branches of
trees so that the great golden balls rolled underfoot and dangled overhead: it was
a festival of pumpkins. The bushes were crowding up, the new grass sprang vivid
The settler lucky enough to be allotted the lush warm valley (if he chose to
cultivate this particular section) would find, suddenly, in the middle of a mealie
field, the plants were growing fifteen feet tall, the weight of the cobs dragging at
the stalks, and wonder what unsuspected vein of richness he had struck.