This paper explores the theme of cannibalism in the historical and literary texts relating to the Basotho. It points to the link between cannibalism and the historical period the lifaqane, which was an heroic epoch gone out of control. It shows how the repression of cannibalism is inscribed in the founding moment of the Basotho nation, therefore how it links to Basotho identity. Other aspect explored is the link between cannibalism and the supernatural (the use of human flesh in medicine and ritual), but also on how cannibalism was used as literary motif by the SeSotho within the contesting ideologies of traditional SeSotho world views and Christianity. It further touches on the problem of the historicity and factuality of cannibalism, as well as its link to the mouth as performative instrument in story telling.
The Tsonga people of South Africa has a custom of spitting into a fire after telling a story. It is a way of killing the story so that it does not follow them into their dreams. 
A character which often features in these stories is the ogre, half human and half animal, and living on human flesh. The ogre, or cannibal, belongs to realm of the animal rather than human society. He, or sometimes she, lives in the wilderness, outside of society. As part of the animal world, and associated with the lion and hyena, the cannibal becomes also part of the sacred world. The lion is often seen as a transformed shaman in the cultures of the hunter-gatherers and this belief was possibly shared by the Bantu-speaking groups such as the Tsonga or the Basotho. The word for cannibal in SeSotho “modimo” also refers to God. The cannibal of tales and religion, though, is different from the cannibal in history and it is part of the intention of this article to explore the link if there is any.
A further question is what is the link between the telling of stories where the mouth is such an important performative instrument (stories are told with the mouth) and the motif of cannibalism itself (as one eats with the mouth). Within pre-Christian societies where associative links between things had a determining impact this is an important question. I ask this question as historical cannibalism, possibly a food economy somewhere between hunting and gathering and the domestication of cattle, as occurrence on syntagmatic level of consciousness moves further and further into the associative realm – into the realm of stories and discourse. I’m interested in the transition and differences between “real” event, which can never be recaptured in its full presence and which we cannot talk about without doubt, or without questioning the motives of our sources, and the associative chain which is brought about as it moves further and further into memory and the unconscious. As distance develop between historical event and ourselves it becomes metaphor for more and more things. C. Richard King for instance discusses the problem of the association of cannibalism with capitalism on the basis that it is a mode of consumption depending on the exploitation of an underclass in diacritics. Through the same use of associative thinking (a less politically correct) relationship between oral societies and cannibalism can be made as the mouth is foregrounded in both. In these stories a cannibal or trickster often eat the grandmother or the children. These stories play with the desire for omnipotence as the children to whom they are told desire to introject the grandmother who tells the story.
While associative thinking is tolerated (as current literary theory shares much with the type of thinking operative in pre-Christian times, except that it retains Christian petty morality) the factuality of the original event comes more and more under question on the basis that the past cannot be brought back into full presence, but also because it is ideologically suspect. Cannibalism is seen as an invention of missionaries to justify the imposition of their world view on their heathen subjects and is part of the conspiracy by the West.
It is in the light of the above that the similarities and differences between history, folklore, ritual, mythology and literature as discourses, and the process whereby history becomes folklore through the dream-work of displacement and condensation becomes important. For this paper the question of the reality or the correctness of the events described is not as important as the fact that the presence of the theme in SeSotho texts point to it as a constituent of the unconscious identity of the people.
The link between the “real” and the associative points to a link between the syntagmatic (historical event) and the paradigmatic (unconscious associations). This link is very pertinent to the literary, historic and folkloric discourses of Lesotho, where there was a cannibalist historical moment in the 1820s, where the ogre is an important folkloric character and where at the metaphoric level the people of Lesotho are being cannibalised by the South African mines and South African imperialism.
In this paper the theme of cannibalism will be looked at historically and as theme in the folklore and literature of the Basotho where as part of the group mythology it is one of central elements of the Basotho identity formation.
Cannibalism in Basotho History
The Basotho are people living in a small mountainous country called Lesotho in the centre of South Africa, but who managed through patronage of Great Britain to remain politically independent from South Africa, although they are economically sustained by wages earned by the men on the South African gold mines. As a nation the Basotho came about as a merging of many smaller and dispersed tribes during the unsettling wars of the nineteenth century, especially during the lifaqane (difaqane in Zulu, from the name of the Mfengu refugees. Mfengu derives from the word fenguza expressing “their need for sustenance” or meaning “we want”), when the wandering refugee tribes fleeing the Zulu king Shaka (especially the AmaNgwane under Matiwane and the Matebele under Msilikatze, who in their turn dispersed the AmaHlubi under Pakalita) invaded the territories occupied by the Basotho.
Thomas Mofolo described the lifaqane as follows in his book Chaka:
Ahead of Chaka’s armies the land was beautiful, and was adorned with villages and ploughed fields and numerous herds of cattle; but upon their tracks were charred wastes without villages, without ploughed fields, without cattle, without anything whatsoever, except occasionally some wild animals. Wild dogs and hyenas roamed about in large packs following or flanking Chaka’s armies, and stopping wherever they stopped in the knowledge that that way they would obtain food without sweat or labour, provided free by someone else. The land became wild and unfriendly and threatening; the smell of death was upon the earth and in the air. The fields lay fallow for lack of people to plough them, because the moment someone dug his field, Chaka would see him, and that would be the end. Where villages once stood was utter desolation, the ghostly sight of which one’s hair stand on end.
It was at that time that, on account of hunger, people began to eat each other as one eats the flesh of a slaughtered animal; they hunted each other like animals and ate each other; they started because of hunger, but afterwards continued with their cannibalism out of habit. The first cannibal was a Zulu called Ndava, who lived near the place where the city of Durban now stands. And then after a few years the persecutions and sufferings from the east climbed over the Maloti mountains and entered Lesotho, and there too cannibals came into being because of hunger. This is the worst of all the evil things of those days, and that too arose because of Chaka, originator-of-all-things-evil.
The missionary Ellenberger states that in this period the cannibals were present everywhere in the area where the BaSotho lived. He calculated that there were about 4000 of them and that in the period 1822 to 1828 about 288 000 people died being eaten by their fellows.
The tribes who indulged in cannibalism according to Ellenberger were the Bakhatla of Tabane, and especially the Bakhatla ruled by the chief Rakotsoane at Sefikeng, the Bamaiyane, the Bafokeng of Ratjotjosane, who lived in a cave on “the spurs of Mautse, facing Leribe” and the Mazizi at Sekubu. The district of Mangane (Bloemfontein in modern times) at the end of 1822 “was infested with cannibals” . In a cave at Mohale’s Hoek there was a brotherhood of twenty-seven cannibals under the leader of Motleyoa. At Sefate and on the banks of the River Nkoe (Cornelius Spruit) there were villages of cannibals. The Sotho who were not cannibals were the bigger tribes who managed to retain their food supplies, especially their cattle. They were the Batsueneng of Khiba, the Bamokoteli under the leadership of Moshesh and the Baphuthi of Mokuoane.
According to Basotho tradition the great Bakuena chief and travelling sage, Mohlomi, prophesised the coming of the lifaqane and cannibalism on his death bed with the words “After my death, a cloud of red dust will come out of the east and consume our tribes. The father will eat his children. I greet you all, and depart to where our fathers rest”.
The prophesy was inspired by an encounter he had among the Bamahlabaneng who lived in the Zoutpansberg area in the north of South Africa during one of his travels. The encounter is described as follows:
Mohlomi arrived at one of their villages unexpectedly about noon. The sun was very hot, and every one in the village slept. Nothing was to be seen but the cattle lying in the shade, and one heard no sound but the barking of the dogs and the buzzing of the flies. But little by little the inhabitants came out of their huts, and the chief appeared and invited Mohlomi to sit down in the shade with his people. To their great horror, he offered the travellers some human flesh to eat.
According to Ellenberger cannibalism amongst the Basotho originated among the Bakhatla who intermarried with the Bavenda whose custom it was to eat prisoners of war. The Bakhatla “hunted their fellow-creatures, caught them in traps, and declared all they caught to be prisoners of war”.
Cannibalism is attributed to the lifaqane with the invasion of Nguni groups under firstly the AmaHlubi under the king Pakalita, fleeing from the invading AmaNgwane of Matiwane who was dispersed by Chaka. Pakalita in his turn disperses the Batlokoa of queen Mantatisi who in her turn create havoc under other Basotho tribes such as the Bafokeng of Tseele, then the Bafokeng of Patsa, the Bamolibeli of Ramatekoa, the Bamokoteli of Moshesh at Butha-Buthe, the Bahlakoana, the Makhetha and Batloung, the Bahlakoana and the Bafokeng of Patsa whom she attacks raiding their cattle and destroying their harvests. She became “a giantess with one eye in her forehead, who loosed swarms of bees in advance of her soldiers” .
But Ellenberger also states that “cannibalism” among the Basotho was present even before the invasions by Mantatisi, Pakalita and Matiwane. When the Bafokeng’s livelihood was destroyed in raids by Matiwane’s father, Masopha, they formed, under their leader Letuka, “into bands of robbers, trekking about the country with their women, children, and cattle, and robbing and murdering such as were not strong enough to resist”. They attacked the Bamaiyane who formerly protected them “and utterly ruined them, driving them ultimately to cannibalism” .
Another event points to the fact that cannibalism came about due to cattle raiding among Basotho themselves is the ruining of the Bafokeng of Makholokoane by Moshesh’s brother, Mohale. After raiding their cattle Mohale taunted them with the advice “to eat each other” after which “the ruined tribe immediately became most bloodthirsty cannibals, and a terrible scourge to the country”. They preyed on women and children who in the early mornings searched for edible roots and bulbs on the river-banks and then drove them across the Caledon river to a cave in the spurs of the Mautse. Here they slaughtered, skinned and ate their prisoners. They made clothes of the skins .
When Moshesh was besieged by the Batlokoa at Butha-Buthe, he and his people decided to move to the mountain near Quiloane. He broke through the Batlokoa by diverting their attention with the help of the Zulus of Sepetja, “a clan of brigands and cannibals”  who surprise-attacked the Batlokoa at the night inflicting heavy loss on them. After this the Batlokoa decided to abandon the siege and Moshesh migrated to Thaba-Bosiu. On this journey some of the people were falling behind including Moshesh’s grandfather, Peete. These were attacked by a band of cannibals. When the rescue party came to help them all they found was blood and some garments.
At Thaba Bosiu, Moshesh increased his following “by collecting round him the fragments of tribes and broken men whom war, famine, and cannibalism had scattered far and wide” . Many years later, in August 1843 (and reported in the Journal des Missions of 1843 ), as part of a policy of reconciliation, Moshesh expressed his regret for the taunt by his brother directed at the Bafokeng “to eat each other” in the presence of Rakotsoane’s cannibals and he said “We, the masters of the country, did drive you to live on human flesh, for men cannot eat stones” (Ellenberger 1992:218)  .
Rakotsoane, a Bakhatla chief who lived at Sefikeng and ruled over several villages, a man of “gigantic stature, whose fierce eyes were hidden under dark, bushy eyebrows”  and therefore resembling the ogre of the folklore, was the leader of the cannibals who ate Peete, the grandfather of Moshesh, during the retreat of the Bamokoteli from Butha-Buthe in 1824 .
Moshesh’s eldest son could not be circumcised until his ancestor’s grave was purified, but there was no grave to purify. In 1828 Moshesh ordered Rakotsoane and his followers to Thaba Bosiu where he rubbed the purification offal over them as they were “the tomb of the departed”  and he gave the cannibals some cattle to stop their custom to eat people. This event stands out as the beginning of the end of cannibalism in this area, although it continued “in out-of-way places” as late as 1836 . The event is also commented on in a popular song by Letsema Matsemela “In the time of cannibals”:
This song reminds me of the old days,
When I was still a boy, I Letsema;
I found places named with the names of cannibals,
So when I asked the older people to tell me,
Why in the end (they) are named in this way,
They said, “There cannibals stayed.”
“So what finished them?”
They said, “King Moshoeshoe slaughtered cattle,
And collected them all.
Then on arrival he gathered them at his home,
He said, ‘Look, men, the food to be eaten,
it’s these cattle –
You shouldn’t eat people,’ and they understood”
This incident points to an interesting substitution of cattle for people as food supply, something which needs extensive exploration and relates to questions of the relationship between human and animal sacrifice in ancient times.
In black culture there is a strong link between cattle, people and ancestors. The head of the family, for instance, is buried in the cattle-fold and the slaughtering of cattle at ceremonial occasions is symbolic of the eating of ancestors (see Pauw). As in Christianity the eating of bread and the drinking of wine during Holy Communion points to the symbolic consumption of Christ’s body. It points to the resolution of oedipal conflict in the assimilation of the father’s body in a universal recurrence of what Freud termed the “original sin” or the killing of the father by the brotherhood. In Sotho culture the dead is buried in an ox-hide and an ox is killed for the purification of those who are present at the funeral and the gall-bladder of the ox is attached to a wrist of the person who prepared the corpse. The master of the ceremony has the right to take the skin and the head of the animal, while the flesh is eaten by all those present. The cattle of the deceased are made to pass over the grave, and afterwards are sacred to the family . Cattle further constitute the bride-price men has to pay in order to acquire women and it is for this reason that cattle are a sought-after commodity and cattle-raiding becomes part of the culture an essential element of conflict. It played a very strong role in the lifaqane.
Cannibalism and SeSotho literature
A link between cannibalist practices and Sesotho litsomo (oral tales and myths) is drawn by one of the Christian converts whose confession combines apocalyptic motifs with motifs of social rebirth as happens in the tale of Kholumolumo (this tale is important part of Basotho initiation). The convert, who was a cannibal, stated :
The hand of the Amangwane was heavy on the land; all the tribes were at war with each other, and every one was a fugitive. Day by day men began to eat men, and I too tasted human flesh. From that time I shunned my fellows, dreading to be eaten too. What horrible days followed that on which I cut off the arm of my mother’s brother and cooked and ate it! I also ate my father’s brother, every bit of him, and many others. Even as Ezekiel saw in a vision the dried bones of a whole nation draw near to each other and assume form, so, with terror, do I see the bones I have picked reunite with their fellows and rise up in judgement against me. I see the figure of one with a reim round his neck; another rises from the earth with my knife in his breast; a third appears without an arm; while another indicates an old pot wherein I cooked his flesh. Woe is me, I am afraid! I am Kholumolumo, the horrible beast of our ancient fable, who swallowed all mankind and the beasts of the field.
The cannibal is a figure in the heroic epoch of Basotho history and features widely as folkloric figure in the oral tales of the various South African groups. The hero, and the heroic, is in essence part of literary terminology and applied to literary texts such as epic literature derived from oral lore and embedded in a particular cultural and historical milieu, which is very different from the Christian epoch in its values and world outlook. The term is used by H.M. Chadwick & Nora K. Chadwick who derived it from Hesoid’s fourth stage in human development. This stage referred to a period of universal warfare and mass migrations of people. Rather than exploring the term in relation to its cultural milieu, the Chadwicks narrowly explore it in terms of the formal aspects of Homeric and Teutonic narrative poetry and the relation between the oral and the written. They do, though, see that heroic poetry is part of a bigger heroic age. D.P. Kunene saw that the concept could be used to describe traditional Basotho poetry in his book Heroic Poetry of the Basotho. Although the boasts he investigates are not quite in the form of Heroic epic poetry, it is clearly situated in an African heroic milieu. The following are elements of the Heroic Age as found in Basotho culture and traditional literature (and also present in the later historical literature by converts such as Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka):
1. An aristocratic milieu determined by ancestry. Ancestor worship plays an important part in SeSotho religion. Memory of ancestors are kept alive through genealogies which are an integral part of the boasts. The boasts laud own achievements and glories of ancestors especially in combat. They are often produced in a state of intoxication.
2. The identity of the individual and family are more important than nations, although empire building or the incorporating of more and more tribute-paying tribes became increasingly important.
3. Warfare and cattle raiding are essential parts of life (at the annual first fruit festival of the Zulu the enemies to be attacked in the coming winter are identified),
4. Social values are bound up with courage (determined by physical strength), cunning (as exemplified by the trickster figure in the folklore) loyalty, generosity and revenge.
5. The heroic worldview is tragic, if not absurdist. Witchcraft, magic and omens play a determining role.
In an Heroic Age the eating of parts of a slain enemy on the battle field to internalise the bravery of the enemy, or to use parts of the human body for medicine and various other rituals are quite common and are described in novels such as Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka and in Blanket Boy’s Moon by A.S. Mopeli-Paulus and Peter Lanham.
Factuality when writing Chaka was not as important to Mofolo as the literary structuring of the novel, and he uses the idea of the magical use of human flesh in the text as part of his characterization techniques. It is a book about evil personified by the character of King Chaka. By indulging in this practise of taking in human flesh for the sake of power King Chaka sells his humanity or soul as becomes an example of evil. It also had the ideological by-product, as Mofolo was a Sotho and Chaka a Zulu, of making King Chaka into the originator of cannibalism. The taking in of human flesh is part of the initiation of the protagonist to Evil. The tragic king sells his soul to attain power by choosing the murder of his mistress Noliwa. Her body became an ingredient in the medicine which gave him power. The fact that the king has a choice creates a degree of tension in the developing plot.
Blanket Boy’s Moon (1953) by Lanham and Mopeli-Paulus, a picaresque adventure story, is about the refugee from the law, Monare, who according to traditional custom was ordered by his chief to commit a ritual murder (liretlo) so that the body parts of the victim could be used for a “medicine horn” necessary for the establishment of a new village. Under the new colonial rule this practise is outlawed and Monare becomes a sought-after murderer. The book is essentially about the clash of colonial and traditional values and the lireto is used as an ingredient in the plot to illustrate this dilemma.
Another interesting example of the use of body parts for magical purposes comes from the great text of the lifaqane, namely the History of Matiwane and the Amangwane Tribe as told by Msebenzi to his kinsman Albert Hlongwane. This is not a Sotho document, but is derived from an Amangwane account, and it is interesting in that, unlike most of Sotho literature, Moshesh himself becomes implicated in cannibalist practices, or at least in the use of human flesh for medicinal purposes. The text is an historic account by an oral bard (with many of the formal features of the heroic epic as defined by the Chadwicks) of the Amangwane migration across the Drakensberg and the various battles they engaged in. It describes how Madilika flees with the a spear in his body to Moshesh. His body is found close to Thaba-bosiu, Moshesh’s mountain fortress, by Basotho herders and Moshesh orders them to scrape up “everything, even the very soil”. Ellenberger records that Matiwane accused Moshesh of stealing the corpse “in order to make medicine of it” .
Most of the information we have of cannibalism derives from missionaries and missionary-educated Basotho. The missionary presence in Lesotho points to a great turning point and conversion from heroic values to the values of Christianity and this turning point is strongly present in the Sesotho literature (which was mainly a product of missionary educated authors). Much of this literature was somehow influenced by earlier missionary articles. The question could be asked to what extent is the theme of cannibalism part of a missionary and racist conspiracy, derived from fundraising motives of missionaries. In order to secure needed funds it was necessary to exaggerate the condition of the “heathens” to the missionary societies in Europe funding them.
It is clear reading Ellenberger’s text, which is based on innumerable oral accounts by BaSotho informants (as well as other missionaries’ accounts), that a great degree of displacement and condensation regarding historical events occurs as inevitably happens when material based on memory and telling is used. He often refers to informants he knew and interviewed personally such as Mabokoboko and Neme. The question of the “reality” of the reports of cannibalism could only be settled by archaeology. All the places where so-called cannibals lived are known and the evidence should still be there. The point, though, is that the theme of cannibalism is widely present in SeSotho literature and this literature seems to indicate a great connection between the repression of cannibalism, and the heroic world of which it was part, and Basotho identity. Moshesh’s reconciliation with the cannibals, changing their eating habits, and incorporating them into what became the BaSotho nation exemplifies this founding moment of BaSotho identity.
E. Motsamai’s accounts of recorded escapes from cannibals is an attempt to record testimonies of survivors of an apocalyptic moment (and is possibly a forerunner to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission). It must be pointed out that there was a strong mystic presence in the historical lore of the Basotho, even before the missionaries came, in the figure of the travelling sage Mohlomi (who probably served as the model for the mystic protagonist of Thomas Mofolo’s Moeti wa Botjhabela.
But cannibalism itself in the heroic world seems to point to an extreme form of mysticism. The word for cannibal in SeSotho, “Modimo,” (or “Molimo”) is also the word for God, hyena and Ancestor (also according to Ellenberger for “Invisible Being”) and explains how strongly it is tied up with the supernatural, that which is beyond reason, but also the melancholic origins of these people in the time of the difaqane. The Basotho saw God as a “malignant spirit, invisible and wicked; a pitiless master, residing in a subterranean cavern, always working evil” .
The cannibal, like God, is invisible, in that the victims can never testify, can never bring evidence of what happened to them unless they escaped. And then it is always a question of the truth. Does the blood and garments found by the search party for Moshesh’s grandfather, Pete, constitute evidence of cannibalism?
The reality of cannibalism is a “reality” of conjecture and stories. Stories that should be spit on so that their invisible, but threatening presence, could be killed.
 C.T.D. Marivate, Tsonga Folktales: Form, Content and Delivery (Volume One). (Pretoria: M.A. Thesis. University of South Africa, 1973), pp. 26-27.
 As in E. Motsamai’s Mehla ya madimo (Morija: Sesuto Book Depot & Press, 1954)
 “As soon as human beings give rein to animal nature in some way we enter the world of transgression forming the synthesis between animal nature and humanity through the persistence of the taboo; we enter a sacred world, a world of holy things.” G. Bataille 1984. Death and Sensuality. Walker and Company, New York
 See David Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowson Images of Power (Johannesburg: Southern Book Publishers, 1989), p.132.
 I say this on the basis that cannibal stories are universal, and on the presumption that there is an historical unconscious (real) operative in their telling. Cannibalism must have been practised in different parts of the world at different times.
 C. Richard King, “The (Mis)uses of Cannibalism in Contemporary Cultural Critique,” diacritics, Vol 1, No. 1 (2000) pp. 106-123.
 See popular story of the trickster who cooks and eats the grandmother “The story of Hlakanyana” from George McCall Theal, Kaffir Folk Lore. (Leipzig: A Twietmeyer and London: W. Swan Sonnenschein & Co. 1884), pp. 84-110.
 Although in many stories predating the real historical cannibalism. The same stories occur in many Bantu languages pointing to the possibility of having been part of Bantu society before it dispersed at various stages or to extensive intermarrying and contact. If these stories are rooted in some historical real it is in a distant past and extensively transmuted by the dream-work operations of condensation and displacement)
 (reading Freud one has to acknowledge that at unconscious level it is a central element in the human identity formation which so much depends on the introversion of others and the outside world. Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality. (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1983), p. 72 and pp. 116-117.
 Henry Francis Fynn, The Diary of Henry Francis Fynn (Pietermaritzburg: Shuter & Shooter, 1986), pp. 22-23.
 Thomas Mofolo was born in 1876 and died in 1948 and was educated at the Morija Mission. He wrote the novels Moeti wa Botjhabela (Morija: Morija Press, 1907)
and Pitseng (Morija: Morija Press, 1910) before Chaka appeared belatedly in 1924. It was apparently partly written in 1910. Thomas Mofolo, Chaka (Oxford: Heinemann International, 1988), p. 136.
 D. Fred. Ellenberger, History of the Basuto: Ancient and Modern (Morija: Morija Museum & Archives 1992).
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p. 218 and p. 225.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.219.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.97
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p. 94.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.218.
 William F. Lye and Colin Murray, Transformations on the Highveld: The Tswana and Southern Sotho (Cape Town & London: David Philip, 1980) p. 37.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.122.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.122.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, pp. 128-129.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, pp. 218-219
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.145
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.150
 S. Rolland, “Station de Béerséba – Lettre de M. Rolland, sous la date du 10 aoút 1843”, Journal des Missions évangéliques de Paris, Vol. 18 (1943), pp. 401-414.
 This story is often recounted in Sotho books, but some times with significant differences. Peete, the grandfather of, Moshoeshoe, was eaten by members of the Nthatisi and Rakotsoane clans during the starvation caused by the difaqane. Mopeli Paulus and Lanham writes:”when Moshoeshoe was told of the eating of his grandfather by these tribesmen, he said, “The people of Nthatisi and Rakotsoane Clans have chosen themselves to become the grave of my grandfather – leave them! Let them be! For if I order them to be killed, then shall I also be ordering the destruction of my father’s grave.” A.S. Mopeli-Paulus and Peter Lanham Blanket Boy’s Moon (London: Collins 1953) pp.302-303.
 Arbouset in Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.219.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.227.
 This event has a counterpart in the European philosopher Montaigne’s discussion of cannibalism in his Essays. He writes about cannibals in Brazil who use to feast on their Prisoners of War and being taunted by one such prisoners: “These muscles…this flesh, and these veins are yours, poor fools that you are! Can you not see the substance of your ancestors’ limbs is still in them? Taste them carefully, and you will find the flavour is that of your own flesh.” (Michel Eyquem Montaigne, Essays (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1981), p.117.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.227.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.228.
 David B. Coplan, In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South africa’s Bastho Migrants (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1994), p.3.
 This reminds of the King Minos, who became judge of the underworld, whose wife mated a bull from which a half human, half bull Minotaur was born. The Minotaur lived on being fed an annual tribute of seven Athenian youths and maidens. The myth as a condensation contains the elements of the human, the bull and cannibalism and an inversion of the animal eating human beings.
 B.J.F. Pauw, Sex, Custom and Psychopathology: A Study of South African Pagan Natives (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951), p.97.
 Sigmund Freud, The Origins of Religion (Harmondworth: Penguin Books, 1985), p.216 and p. 330 and 385.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.262.
 Long ago, they said, there appeared a marvellous monster, with a long tongue, which ate all the people, which ate all the animals. This monster would pick up a man at a distance or a thing at a distance by means of its long tongue, and swallow it. It swallowed people alive, and an ox and any animal the same, all things indeed which walked. It roamed about the earth thus, until it finished human beings and animals. Because of the weight of its belly, it sat down, and gathered in by its tongue only.
When all the people were finished up and the animals likewise, a single pregnant woman escaped, and hid herself. She was confined whilst still in hiding, and delivered of a male child. That child puzzled his mother much, even when he was still young. He was hardly born before he had teeth. He quickly asked his mother where the people had gone, and his mother told him. Then he fashioned a bow, he fashioned arrows broad like a razor and sharp and said: “Mother, lead me to that monster, that I may kill it. ” His mother refused, but at length her son overcame her, and she took him.
When they were still a long way off, Kholumolumo saw them. It stretched out its tongue and tried to lick them up but the boy stabbed its tongue and cut it; it tried to lick them up, he stabbed its tongue and cut it; it tried to lick them up, the boy stabbed its tongue and cut it; it tried to lick them up, he stabbed its tongue and cut it, and so he went on cutting it; it grew shorter and shorter, and they came nearer and nearer. Kholumolumo nearly went mad with pain and with desire to swallow a human being. It was in a furious rage, its eyes became red, they were as blood, but the weight of its belly overcame it, it could not stand, it could not fight. The boy kept on coming nearer and nearer, and at length he killed it. And then he took a knifeand plunged it into its belly.
The greatness of that monster’s belly was more than Basutoland of those times, that is to say, that the boy could not see the other side of it. He saw only the side he was on. When he pierced its belly a person screamed from inside and said: “Do not pierce me, make a hole over there.” When he tried to pierce there, a dog howled; when He wanted to pierce in a different place an ox bellowed. In the end he just made a tear without listening to the cries of those in the belly. Out came people, cattle, dogs – everything living took the opportunity to come out. Then all the people thanked that boy, and they even made him their chief. But soon jealousy arose among the men who had been saved by the boy, at being governed by a boy, and finally they murdered him.
Thomas Mofolo The Traveller to the East (Nendeln: Kraus reprint 1973) pp.35-36.
 Lord Raglan in Jocasta’s Crime: An Anthropological Study (London: Watts & Co, 1940) pp. 106-107 described myth as the spoken part of the initiation rituals. It links to initiation as individuation, the birth of the hero as individuation process The initiation ritual, according to Raglan is the symbolic recreation of the world at regular intervals, after the physical birth of the individual followed by social rebirth in initiation. This recreation or rebirth of the world is especially pertinent after apocalyptic moments. Senkantana, is also model for Thomas Mofolo’s main character in Moeti wa Botjhabela (Morija: Morija Press, 1907) as someone in search of social rebirth..
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, pp. 225-226.
 The concept “Heroic Age” is explored extensively in H.M. Chadwick and Nora K. Chadwick’s The Growth of Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1932).
 The concept also had currency in psychoanalysis. See Otto Rank’s The Myth of the Birth of the Hero (New York, 1914).
 These definitive aspects are the fact that Heroic poetry is primarily narrative stories of adventure and composed for entertainment consisting of a uniform type of verse unbroken by stanza’s which includes direct speech, with vivid description, an abundance of epithets, concentrating on a brief period of action, focussing on individuals in an aristocratic milieu with references to both historical and unhistorical elements.
 D.P. Kunene, Heroic Poetry of the Basotho (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971)
 Thomas Mofolo, Chaka (Oxford: Heinemann International, 1988).
 According to the missionary Ellenberger, The History of the Basuto, the lifaqane had its origins in the policy of the Mtwetwa chief, Dingiswayo, to “unify” or subdue all the surrounding independent tribes. Dingiswayo gave protection to the young Chaka of the Zulus who became a commander in Dingiswayo’s armies. Dingiswayo did not support Chaka claim to his father Senzagakona’s position when Senzagakona died, and Chaka betrayed and killed Dingiswayo in a war against Zwide. He continued to pursue the policy of the conquering of neighbouring tribes, but with much more cruelty.
 Fynn, Diary p.305.
 Such as initiation. “They were given a kind of porridge to eat, in which, it is sometimes said, a little human flesh was boiled, in order to render them bold and courageous. They were also, of course, inoculated with the powder from the horn, with a view to rendering them invincible in battle.” Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.282.
 The book achieved international fame when it was translated into English in 1931 by F.H. Dutton and again in 1981 by D.P. Kunene (I used the 1988 edition of this translation for this presentation). The book is historical fiction and was accused of containing “exaggerations” by N.R, Thoahlane in the Leselinyana la Lesotho in February 1927 while the Reverend S.M. Malale questioned the historical correctness of the book in July 1928 [see Daniel P. Kunene Thomas Mofolo and the Emergence of Written Sesotho Prose (Johannesburg: Ravan Press 1989) p.xiv) to which Mofolo replied: “I am not writing history, I am writing a tale, or I should rather say I am writing what actually happened, but to which a great deal has been added, and from which a great deal has been removed, so that much has been left out, and much has been written that did not actually happen, with the aim solely of fulfilling my purpose in writing this book “(Kunene, Thomas Mofolo, p. xv).
 A.S. Mopeli-Paulus and Peter Lanham Blanket Boy’s Moon (London: Collins 1953) A.S. Mopeli-Paulus, born in 1913, is a descendant of the great Basuto chief, Moshoeshoe, and was member of the Ruling House in Lesotho. His co-author Peter Lanham was a pioneer in radio broadcasting in South Africa. Both of them were active as soldiers in the Second World War.
 Chaka’s potency is improved by a medicine containing “the liver of a lion, the liver of a leopard, and the liver of a man who had been a renowned warrior in his lifetime” (Mofolo Chaka p.14) and it was “constantly” added to his food (Mofolo Chaka p.14) and for ultimate power he has to sacifice his beloved, Noliwa, so that his warriors could “eat food mixed with medicines containing the blood of someone” (Mofolo Chaka p.100) that he loves dearly. In this way this book portrays Chaka as the original emblem of the cannibalism which came to plague the Sotho as their food supplies and cattle were destroyed by the invading Zulu armies. The formation of empires and kingdoms through the violent absorption of smaller tribes seems to be symbolised by cannibalism.
 With the establishment of a new village, according to ancient custom, a medicine horn must be prepared “to ward off bewitchment, and ensure prosperity and success to the new community.” (Lanham & Mopeli-Paulus Blanket Boy’s Moon p.98). This medicine horn required “as one of its magic ingredients the blood and flesh of a man of the Bafokeng clan” (Lanham & Mopeli-Paulus Blanket Boy’s Moon p.98).
 N.J. van Warmelo (ed.), History of Matiwane and the Amangwane Tribe as told by Msebenzi to his kinsman Albert Hlongwane (Pretoria: Department of Native Affairs, Ethnological Publications, 1938)
 Van Warmeloo, History of Matiwane, p.45.
 Van Warmeloo, History of Matiwane, p.45.
 Most of the early reports on cannibalism appearing in French and German missionary magazines such as Journal des Missions évangéliques de Paris and Berliner Missionsberichte in the 1830s and 1840s.
 D.F. Ellenberger was born in 1835 in Switzerland and becoming a missionary with the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society in 1856 and came to Lesotho in 1860. He was active at the mission station at Bethesda, and he was in charge of the organisation of the mission’s printing operations. He trained Adophe Mabille printing skills which were used in the printing of the church newspaper Leselinyana la Lesotho (important for South African literary history as it serialised much of the early literary texts in SeSotho) at Morija in 1863. After war between Lesotho and the Freestate farmers, Ellenberger had to leave Bethesda to Masitise. During this war Lesotho requested protectorate status from Britain, and the Sotho became British subjects. He had a great interest in the traditions and history of the Sesotho and collected a large amount of documents (printed documents but also transcriptions of Sotho oral traditions in his Masitise Archives. The History of the Basotho: Ancient & Modern was a synthesis (with the help of a variety of people participating: his wife, JC MacGreggor the assistant Commisioner in the Leribe district) of the material he collected during his life. It contains the history of the Sesotho up to the period of 1830, before the modernising influences of the missionaries which started in 1833.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.221.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.220
 Politically, though, this is a taboo area. Trying to find out what the state of archaeology is with regard to cannibalism I was told that nothing has been done in this area. In South Africa archaeology is very much focussed on the “origins of man” type of excavations or the more popular hunter-gatherer rock art sites.
 E. Motsamai Mehla ya madimo (Morija: Sesuto Book Depot & Press, 1954)
 Thomas Mofolo’s Moeti wa Botjhabela (Morija: Morija Press, 1907)
 In Motsamai’s Mehla ya madimo the cannibal is on the same level as another man-eating creature, the lion – which in the lore of the hunter-gatherers whose lands the Sotho occupied, and whom the Sotho have cannibalised in a political, but also literal sense, is strongly associated with the transfiguration of the shaman.
 In the psychoanalytic sense of people experiencing loss and trauma on a massive scale through the incessant wars.
 Ellenberger, History of the Basuto, p.239