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"Then Came The Whiteman": An African Poet And Polemicist On The Fateful Encounter

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Chapter Summary

"Then came the Whiteman," whose unceremonious advent swept away the idyll. The poem swivels on that deictic "Then," which begins a new verse paragraph at line 54 of "Amagunyana's Soliloquy". "Then" equates to the moment of colonial penetration in Africa: it describes rupture with a known heroic past, and presages an anxious and unknowable future. Having captured the trauma of the first hostile encounter with whites, Amagunyana reveals his chagrin and the sense of impotence he feels at being unable to eject the interlopers. Amagunyana witnesses valiant men "Melt like early dew," while Kruger sees them "slaughter'd in their utter helplessness". In neither of the extracts shown in this chapter does the poet parade his own view of the conflict. Tim Couzens first brought Grendon's many-faceted achievement to scholarly attention. The bulk of all English-language verse published in Ilanga from its inception in April 1903 until May 1905 is Grendon's.

Keywords: Amagunyana's Soliloquy; Ilanga; Paul Kruger's Dream; precolonial idyll; Robert Grendon; South African poet; Then came the Whiteman; Tim Couzens



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