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Read 'Udonga luka Tatiyana'

06 Mar 2020 at 10:28hrs | Views
This novel is about the dangers of unchecked ambition and is based in the land of the Kaffirs in the eastern part of South Africa.

There are several tribes in Kaffirland : the Swazi, the Undwana, the Abatetwa and the Ifenilenja. The Abatetwa is ruled by Jobe and later by his son Dingiswayo. Chief Senzangakona rules the Ifenilenja, a weak tribe which came under Jobe. Zwide rules the Undwana.

Senzangakona "has 3 or 4 wives" but they have only daughters. He falls in love with Nandi but gets her pregnant before marriage , against the rules of the land. Nandi bears Chaka, who is Senzangakona's first son and real heir. Then the other wives start bearing sons : Mfokazana, then Dingana and then Mhlangana. The other wives say Mfokazana should be the heir, not Chaka who was conceived outside wedlock. Other boys also beat up Chaka when they are driving cattle together. Because of this, Nandi takes him to her witch-doctor for protection and he becomes a brave fighter. Before the witch-doctor dies, she hands over Chaka's case to Isanusi (i.e." the one who sees the future"), the doctor who taught her.

One day, Chaka saves Mfokazana's girlfriend from a hyena and kills the animal. Mfokazana and other young men are jealous of Chaka's fame and try to kill him. He flees to the bush and meets Isanusi, who doctors him. Afterwards, Isanusi tells Chaka, "You must continue killing with this spear or the medicine in your blood will kill you. When you get tired of killing, tell me so that I can dull the power of the medicines."

Chaka later goes to Dingiswayo, who rules Abatetwa. Chaka wins wars for Dingiswayo against Zwide's country. Dingiswayo, in turn, defends him against enemies. Later on, Isanusi sends Ndlebe as a spy and Malunga as a warrior to live with Chaka. When Chaka's father dies, Mfokazana becomes the chief of the Ifenilenja but Chaka fights and kills him. Chaka and Noliwe (Dingiswayo's sister) fall in love and Dingiswayo approves of their planned marriage. When Dingiswayo is captured by Zwide's army, Ndlebe deliberately misleads Chaka into thinking that Dingiswayo is dead already. Therefore, Chaka mourns instead of going to rescue Dingiswayo. Dingiswayo is later beheaded by Zwide's people.

Chaka replaces Dingiswayo as the king of the Abatetwa. He chooses a new tribe name for his people - "Zulu, Amazulu" (Heaven & People of Heaven). When Chaka wants to marry Noliwe, Isanusi tells him to kill her instead and bring her blood for sacrifice in order to gain the chieftaincy of the whole of Kaffirland. Chaka kills her with a needle while hugging her.

After Noliwe's death, Chaka becomes even more callous. He forces young men into his army and warriors who lose their weapons in war or run away are killed for "cowardice". None of his warriors must get married so the Zulu spinsters have nobody to marry them. All that change when Chaka makes Umziligazi the head of all his commanders. Umziligazi rebels and flees with his men to settle elsewhere. They also take young women with them for marriage. Umziligazi's deputy, Manukuza, sent to capture him also follows his example.

Chaka has children with several women but has them killed at birth by Ndlebe. Nandi is eager to have a grandchild so she hides one of Chaka's pregnant women until she gives birth. The woman leaves the baby behind and returns to Chaka. Chaka discovers the truth when he visits his mother one day because the child dies when Chaka's shadow falls on him. He kills his mother in anger. He kills many Zulus for not crying enough over his mother's death. He also kills all the women of Nandi's age and all the tribe of Umziligazi. All the corpses are placed in the valley of Udonga-luka-Tatiyana.

Chaka gets the chieftaincy of Kaffirland but he is still thirsty for blood. He organises feasts and kills people for singing badly, not singing (because of fear of being killed for singing badly) and crying for joy.

Chaka starts having nightmares featuring all his atrocities and in which he sees Isanusi gloating over his downfall. He leaves home for the veld but the nightmares continue. He grows jealous of his men who slept soundly when he couldn't and kills some of them. He sends for his halfbrothers, Dingana and Mhlangana, hoping to find comfort when he sees them but they kill him for his chieftaincy.
Source - Ryton Dzimiri
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