The making of a kholwa intellectual : a discursive biography of Magema Magwaza Fuze

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The case of Magema Magwaza Fuze (c. 1840-1922) is about the problem of the introduction of writing in a colonial context and, more specifically, in the context of extensive missionary activity. The relative 'success' of this missionary endeavour appeared not only in the small but growing number of converts to Christianity, but perhaps even more momentously with the emergence of a small but critical mass of individuals who were literate and therefore no longer confirmed to an oral culture only. By the end of the nineteenth century one could talk of an incipient 'class' of educated and literate Africans. As the products of mission education they collectively shared an identity of being both Christian and educated. They were amakholwa (plural noun for 'believers'). Being an ikholwa was a political and social, rather than just a religious identity. Above all, by converting to Christianity and by subscribing to progressive ideals of private property ownership, individual rights and the Protestant work ethic, the amakholwa within the limited political sphere of colonial governance acquired, according to their own understanding, the rights of British subjects.

Includes bibliographical references.