The Xhosa Cattle Killing Movement — The Forerunners of the COVID Lockdown Cult

"To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers"

“During this time many Xhosa herds were plagued with “lung sickness”, possibly introduced by European cattle”

This week-end we were all hoping to hear about a lifting of restrictions and a view of a rapid road back to normality.  I know I am not alone in being seriously alarmed by the direction of travel that is the opposite to what was wanted.  We were initially locked-down in March to ensure the ‘NHS wasn’t overwhelmed’.  Then in April it was extended to ‘save lives’ and this has now morphed into a rationale to ‘prevent a second wave’. This weekend we were to hear about reduced restrictions, but instead of release, we hear about how we will all be required to do a lot more walking and cycling, as public transport will effectively be unusable, due to social distancing requirements, for the foreseeable future. We hear about how all air travel arrivals in the UK will now be required to quarantine for two weeks, with no description of how this will ever be ended. That’s the end of the travel and tourism sector. Gone. Just like that. And encompassing everything are the recent words of the Prime Minister that “we need to continue to make sure we don’t squander the efforts we have already made”. Continue to what? To where?

We are told the strategy is the suppression and (through testing, tracking, tracing and isolation) the eradication of a virus that is, to put it bluntly, not eradicable.  As infections and deaths fall and the economic pain of our existing restrictions begin to bite, we aspire to release, but the final success of that strategy will require more isolation and distancing, not less. In a world where the virus is here and here to stay, this is the road to economic ruination, because the only way to attempt this ultimately unachievable goal will be forever increased restrictions and loss of freedoms. It can be very difficult to get out of a ‘throwing good money after bad’  black hole. But that is scary place we are now at.

The description  below is the story of the death of the Xhosa nation between 1856 and 1858. It is not a perfect parallel, but there are some chilling similarities to where we find ourselves in the UK: the ‘vision’ (or model prediction), the personal sacrifices of the leader, unrealistic or unachievable goals, the changing dates, a ruined economy and impoverishment and starvation, the doubling down on efforts, etc. If nothing else it is a piece of history worth knowing and I hope an enjoyable read.

In the early nineteenth century, the British colonized Southeast Africa. The native Xhosa resisted, but suffered repeated and humiliating defeats at the hands of British military forces. The Xhosa lost their independence and their native land became an English colony. The British adopted a policy of westernising the Xhosa. They were to be converted to Christianity, and their native culture and religion was to be wiped out. Under the stress of being confronted by a superior and irresistible technology, the Xhosa developed feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. In this climate, a prophet appeared.

In April of 1856, a fifteen-year-old girl named Nongqawuse heard a voice telling her that the Xhosa must kill all their cattle, stop cultivating their fields, and destroy their stores of grain and food. The voice insisted that the Xhosa must also get rid of their hoes, cooking pots, and every utensil necessary for the maintenance of life. Once these things were accomplished, a new day would magically dawn. Everything necessary for life would spring spontaneously from the earth. The dead would be resurrected. The blind would see and the old would have their youth restored. New food and livestock would appear in abundance, spontaneously sprouting from the earth. The British would be swept into the sea, and the Xhosa would be restored to their former glory. What was promised was nothing less than the establishment of paradise on earth.

Nongqawuse told this story to her guardian and uncle, Mhlakaza. At first, the uncle was sceptical. But he became a believer after accompanying his niece to the spot where she heard the voices. Although Mhlakaza heard nothing, he became convinced that Nongqawuse was hearing the voice of her dead father, and that the instructions must be obeyed. Mhlakaza became the chief prophet and leader of the cattle-killing movement.

News of the prophecy spread rapidly, and within a few weeks the Xhosa king, Sarhili, became a convert. He ordered the Xhosa to slaughter their cattle and, in a symbolic act, killed his favourite ox. As the hysteria widened, other Xhosa began to have visions. Some saw shadows of the resurrected dead arising from the sea, standing in rushes on the river bank, or even floating in the air. Everywhere that people looked, they found evidence to support what they desperately wanted to be true.

The believers began their work in earnest. Vast amounts of grain were taken out of storage and scattered on the ground to rot. Cattle were killed so quickly and on such an immense scale that vultures could not entirely devour the rotting flesh. The ultimate number of cattle that the Xhosa slaughtered was 400,000. After killing their livestock, the Xhosa built new, larger kraals to hold the marvellous new beasts that they anticipated would rise out of the earth. The impetus of the movement became irresistible.

The resurrection of the dead was predicted to occur on the full moon of June, 1856. Nothing happened. The chief prophet of the cattle-killing movement, Mhlakaza, moved the date to the full moon of August. But again the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The cattle-killing movement now began to enter a final, deadly phase, which its own internal logic dictated as inevitable. The failure of the prophecies was blamed on the fact that the cattle-killing had not been completed. Most believers had retained a few cattle, chiefly consisting of milk cows that provided an immediate and continuous food supply. Worse yet, there was a minority community of sceptical non-believers who refused to kill their livestock.

The fall planting season came and went. Believers threw their spades into the rivers and did not sow a single seed in the ground. By December of 1856, the Xhosa began to feel the pangs of hunger. They scoured the fields and woods for berries and roots, and attempted to eat bark stripped from trees. Mhlakaza set a new date of December 11 for the fulfilment of the prophecy. When the anticipated event did not occur, unbelievers were blamed.

The resurrection was rescheduled yet again for February 16, 1857, but the believers were again disappointed. Even this late, the average believer still had three or four head of livestock alive. The repeated failure of the prophecies could only mean that the Xhosa had failed to fulfil the necessary requirement of killing every last head of cattle. Now, they finally began to complete the killing process. Not only cattle were slaughtered, but also chickens and goats. Any viable means of sustenance had to be destroyed. Any cattle that might have escaped earlier killing were now slaughtered for food.

Serious famine began in late spring of 1857. All the food was gone. The starving population broke into stables and ate horse food. They gathered bones that had lay bleaching in the sun for years and tried to make soup. They ate grass. Maddened by hunger, some resorted to cannibalism. Weakened by starvation, family members often had to lay and watch dogs devour the corpses of their spouses and children. Those who did not die directly from hunger fell prey to disease. To the end, true believers never renounced their faith. They simply starved to death, blaming the failure of the prophecy on the doubts of non-believers.

By the end of 1858, the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to 26,000. Forty to fifty-thousand people starved to death, and the rest migrated. With Xhosa civilization destroyed, the land was cleared for white settlement. The British found that those Xhosa who survived proved to be docile and useful servants. What the British Empire had been unable to accomplish in more than fifty years of aggressive colonialism, the Xhosa did to themselves in less than two years.

Source: Hector Drummond Magazine

  1. cechas vodobenikov says

    it is the fake liberals in USA that despise freedom and endorse covidian cult fascism—they always align w the ruling class when it matters
    this explains their support for ruling class sycophants–sanders/biden/obama…all whom support every regime change US invasion
    and these robots continue to post their fascist drivel—the tribe of joey, clicheovist,newbigest, etc
    they now endorse dominion voting machines for man of the year, along w time mag and the NYT

  2. dreamjoehill says

    Stay at home policies work!

    Look at Scandanavia. Although Sweden has just two-thirds the combined population of its neighbors Norway and Denmark, it has four times as many deaths. Adjusted for population, Sweden’s death rate is nearly five times higher than that of Denmark and nearly 10 times higher than Norway. There are now on average more than 5,000 cases a day reported in the country as a whole, including 1,500 in Stockholm alone.

    Unlike Norway & Denmark, Sweden pursued a “herd immunity” policy – no stay at home orders.

    When will you COVID denial cultists face the facts.

    Stop spreading deadly disinformation!

  3. Rowdy-Yates says

    The Global warm-ists led by people Greta thurnberg failed and they were part of the crowd pushing for shutdowns. Both global warming and covid are related to the environment and both groups have control of the media, internet and silicon valley giants like Facebook Zuckerberg and Google Bill gates. That combined with the new economy of 5-g and AI may have driven these shutdowns.

    But the effort to create a new economy based on 5-G and AI is bound to fail for most Americans who are too old and not qualified. Only some American cities will be centers of this economy with the rest of the population dependent on government checks and permanently unemployable.

    The new economy of 5-G and AI is for nations whose population are mainly youthful and fairly educated. China’s youth pop under 25 is 500 million, 25 to 59 is 700 million and over 60 is 200 million. Just with this population China’s economy will grow for the next 20 to 30 years and so will Asian, African and South American nations who have a similar youth population.

  4. ke4ram says

    “That’s the end of the travel and tourism sector. Gone. Just like that.”

    Ever hear of nullification? Allow me to explain. When the idiots we call government invoke stupid shit you simply do NOT OBEY. See how that works…. you don’t cry like a six year old wanting out of a corner.

    If you are unwilling to stand up for your own rights and lives then, like they tell the ladies being raped, lay back and enjoy.

  5. nick1111 says

    Democrats = Xhosa cult

  6. voza0db says

    This is total BS…

    Every single year, in my country, we have the NHS overwhelmed during the influenza season. The news channels spend endless hours talking about (lack of beds, people in corridors, low number of medical and nurse staff, and so on) that reality.

    Never we saw this fake excuse to send everyone to house arrest because of the FLU!

    Clearly the GOAL has nothing to do with the Health of the Herd!

  7. sabelmouse says

    another way of population control/domination.

  8. Sharon Marlowe says

    This reminds me of all those christian cults throughout the centuries that ‘prophesied’ the end of the world, like the millerites and “The Great Disappointment”.

    1. Mensch59 says

      Well, as Chris Hedges pointed out “A society in terminal decline often retreats into magical thinking.”
      What’s the evidence of our global society in terminal decline? Humanity’s near universal retreat into magical thinking?
      Maybe it’s the efficacy of modern medicine, exemplified by universal vaccination against coronavirus.
      This was an interesting comment on Facebook:

      A post from fb re the uk but applies of course to nearly the whole planet.

      I’ve been asked by a few good folks to re-share this, so here goes…

      Apologies in advance for stating the bleeding obvious, but the medical cartel and their lackeys in ‘government’/the media etc., would have us all believe that there are, primarily, two types of people:

      1. Sane, sensible, normal folk. Those who trust and follow government guidance and laws without question. Because authority – and experts. These are the solid and dependable types – you can depend on them to do exactly as they’re told.

      2. Crazy, unhinged, ‘conspiracy theorists’. Those ignorant and arrogant enough to question the authority, genius, and integrity of state provided/funded experts. These people cling to mere fantasies because they desperately need somewhere to place their anger. They are the uneducated attention seekers who make the world an even more dangerous place to live in, resulting in the need for ever increasing expert and authoritative guidance and intervention.

      Well, they’re right about one thing: there most certainly are two distinct types. Here’s the grown-up version:

      1. Frightened, willing slaves; lambs to their own slaughter, who will likely die proudly clutching their vaccine records to their chests, whilst whispering the words ‘for the greater good’. These are the types who wish anyone who disagrees with them dead – happy to both gaslight and to be gaslighted – to play their part in anything that confirms their hopelessly blinkered biases. Totally devoid of any capacity for critical thinking, they leave the ‘complicated’ stuff to their blindly trusted ‘leaders’ and ‘experts’. To these types, study and research are for the ‘qualified’ and educated only, and woe betide those arrogant enough to even think about questioning the ‘official’ line. With dogged determination, they ruthlessly protect the pathetic paradigms programmed into them by their ‘leaders’ (via ‘education’/’media), lest they be ‘wrong’ and might actually have to think, re-evaluate, and (gasp!) ‘change’. Their conditioning is complete and they prefer ‘security’ over ‘freedom’, deserving neither, and eventually losing both.

      2. People who question known liars and are not afraid of being ridiculed by the fools who prop them up. Intelligent and discerning, they are willing and able to face bitter truths, whilst refusing to be satiated by sweet lies. Not afraid to scratch beneath the surface, these people fearlessly face their own (and our collective) shadows, no matter how much it hurts to do so. They take nothing for granted, nothing at face value, knowing they have a duty to question everything, to remain eternally vigilant. These are conscious individuals who do all they can to stop tyranny, not just for their own sake, but for the sake of both types described.

      This was an interesting comment on OffGuardian:

      It’s the craziest social phenomenon I’ve recently observed. Many on the so-called “left” are the ones clamoring for totalitarian social controls in order to combat a virus with an extraordinarily large single-stranded RNA genome. The war on terror has transformed into the war on coronavirus. It’s mass psychosis all over again.

      1. dreamjoehill says

        Of course in your insufferable arrogance, you categorize all those who disagree with you as type 1.

        What a pig.

        1. Mensch59 says

          Pigs are more enlightening & ethical than some (sociopathic & imperialist & fascist) leftists.

          1. dreamjoehill says

            Pigs are certainly more ethical than libertarians.

            Your bourgeois arrogance is the opposite of solidarity with workers and victims of imperialism.

            1. Mensch59 says

              RE “bourgeois arrogance”: there you go again with the projection, you bigoted pos you.

            2. dreamjoehill says

              Except that I am in no way bourgeois. I own no significant property and my income derives from wages.

              How about you? Oh that’s right, you’ve evaded this question for over a day now.


            3. cechas vodobenikov says

              worse–a lumpen ruling class toady

            4. dreamjoehill says

              You fake leftists love that word “lumpen.”

              Too bad you don’t know what it means and use it incorrectly.

              Clearly, you’re a bigoted douchebag who thinks he’s s leftist, but you’re just an angry old man.

      2. Sharon Marlowe says

        Yes, this virus is not only a failure with right wingers(which includes the American “so-called left”, which are just imperialist right wingers anyway), but also the true Left–the anti-imperialists. The World Socialist Website is a good example of that.

        1. Mensch59 says

          It’s amazing how many people got gaslighted by corona-phobia.
          I call it mass hysteria or a mass psychosis. Maybe it’s an altogether different social phenomenon.

          How can true leftists still be imperialists? Because they have a wonky relationship with State power. Most “true leftists” are anti-libertarian — in the way that the libertarian aka the anarchist is traditionally understood as (1) opposing State power (2) opposing master-servant/slave social relations.
          The “true leftist” can oppose chattel & wage & debt slavery, but still be in thrall to the corrupting & corrosive power of the State.
          “True leftists” are advocates of the abolition of private property (and by extension debt slaves as property), but they can also (but don’t necessarily have to) be true believers in the power of the State to free the slaves instead of in the power of the slaves to free ourselves. That’s subtle, but huge imo. Anyway, that’s why I see many a “true leftist” still being gaslighted by corona-phobia and wanting the State to protect them from a virus and as authoritarian imperialists upholding master-servant/slave (aka lord-serf) social relations in this neo-feudal social order.
          I’d appreciate any feedback regarding my wrongness here.

          1. Sharon Marlowe says

            True leftists can’t be imperialists, Mensch59. Two things true leftists are against is imperialism and capitalism. Apparently there are some who believe in the unique danger of this virus. I don’t:)

            1. Mensch59 says

              I don’t believe that this virus is nearly as dangerous as (1) capitalogenic pollution causing ecosystem destruction (2) US hegemony (3) neo-fascism (4) totalitarian social controls as a consequence of unintended economic de-growth (5) the billionaire class’ plans for population control (6) the perturbations of and disruptions in long-term biogeochemical cycles due to anthropogenic climate change (7) the presence of thermonuclear weapons.

            2. Sharon Marlowe says

              Oh, and I blocked dreamjoehill because of how he commented to you, Mensch59. He’s such an idiot:D

            3. Collectivist says

              No he’s not.

            4. Sharon Marlowe says

              What an amazing argument!:D I remember speaking to you last year, Collectivist. You were very good at explaining your view to me. But now when you speak to me you give no explanations–three words, three letters, and a video to confuse me. Thanks

            5. Collectivist says

              What exactly do you want me to explain?

            6. Sharon Marlowe says

              You laughed at one of my comments. Why? You claim that DreamJoe is not an idiot. Why? Here’s my introduction to DreamJoe. He commented to me without me having said a thing to him, on the Dr. Blaylock thread:
              “Orders from TV! What a load of crap. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a non-thinking moron, you stupid bigot.”
              “You are spouting the propaganda of the US regime, as represented by T-rump. Your attempt to cop a rebellious pose is right wing deception.”

              Of course he could have just had a bad day, but the next time I see him he’s insulting Mensch59. Almost as if he doesn’t give a shit who is talking, he’s just used to insulting people. That’s an idiot, Collectivist.

            7. Collectivist says

              Hmmm . . .

            8. Sharon Marlowe says

              lol You’re easy to replace with A.I.

            9. cechas vodobenikov says

              more ruling class fascism from self uglified amerikan

            10. Mensch59 says

              I’m just as idiotic for allowing the exchange of commentary to turn so nasty.
              There is really something to the aphorism “Never argue with an idiot. You’ll never convince the idiot that you’re correct, and bystanders won’t be able to tell who’s who.”
              Mea culpa.

            11. Sharon Marlowe says

              It’s a virus that gives you over a 99% chance of surviving, so not only all those things you mention are much more dangerous, but just being a part of human society in general seems much more dangerous than this virus;)

            12. Mensch59 says

              Even if we’re referring to the existential dread of death, what are we most likely to die from if we live in the USA or Canada?
              1. Heart disease.
              2. Cancer.
              3. Unintentional injuries (including medical error).
              4. Chronic lower respiratory disease.
              5. Stroke and cerebrovascular diseases.
              6. Alzheimer’s disease.
              7. Diabetes.
              8. Influenza and pneumonia.
              9. Kidney disease.
              10. Suicide.
              Covid is down there at #8.
              And this is something that we’re willing to surrender our civil liberties over — beginning with contact tracing?!?!
              This is one of those social controls with which statists are A-OK.
              Why? The sell of the con artist is public health. Government propaganda utilizes fear and anxiety, i.e. corona-phobia.
              What’s an opposing pov?
              “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” ~ Albert Camus
              Why is this happening? What’s the game plan of the PTB?

            13. Mensch59 says

              From my direct experience — and if I cannot trust a direct experience as a data point then what can I trust — there are plenty of leftists (even those who consider themselves true leftists because they can divine the fake leftists) who are anti-communist statists.
              In my political calculus, a statist is an imperialist and an imperialist is a statist. It’s an unpopular position to take, but an anarcho-communist cannot take another position in good faith.

            14. Sharon Marlowe says

              You’re losing me here, Mensch59. Statism allows the legitimacy of the State, but it doesn’t carry with that view that imperialism/colonialism should be the function of the State.

            15. Mensch59 says

              Sorry that I missed this post and didn’t reply sooner.
              I’d rather deal with people & institutions than ideas & ideologies (i.e. -ism’s). If you object to that, then we can proceed on a different tack.

              A statist is an advocate of a political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.
              Dealing with what is — instead of what if — how is this “centralized control” organized? Imperialistically only? A mixture of centralized imperial control and other types of control? I look at American hegemony as an imperialistic blob. Some nation-states/polities have been absorbed into the blob and some have resisted being absorbed. But even those who have resisted are either participating in imperial rent seeking (i.e. the extraction of natural resources and the exploitation of labor from underdeveloped economies to developed ones) or the resisters are victims of imperial rent-seeking and financial rent (aka usury) being imposed via the IMF and the World Bank and other conglomerated financial institutions or are sanctioned (which is an act of aggressive warfare by the imperialistic power).

              The so-called “legitimacy” of the State is fundamentally imperial, unless my worldview is wonky. Therefore, how can a person be a statist without being an imperialist — ESPECIALLY if there’s an alternative to supporting and advocating for the power of the State?

            16. Sharon Marlowe says

              Those are great points, Mensch59. A political anarchist, in my view, always has the moral high ground over all forms of government today. I’m definitely a statist, because I believe in government by the people and for the people. But I concede that human development has been impaired by right wing ideology–power, paranoia, and bigotry of right wingers has nurtured conquest and exceptionalism. If the world had nurtured empathy instead, then political anarchism would thrive.
              But, as it is now, anarchism just can’t survive when such a powerful “blob” as the U.S. and its partners in crime target and undermine the Left to near extinction, let alone anarchism.
              So, I believe, anarchism is an ideal further away from the reality of the world than leftism is, but leftism is having a hard time breathing.

            17. Mensch59 says

              You are dealing with the situation on the ground — keeping it real.
              I appreciate that.
              I agree that the type of libertarian anarchy I’m advocating is pie-in-the-sky.
              But I’m an advocate of eliminating poverty in the tradition of the early Christian communists applied everywhere (see Acts 2:42–47 and 4:32–37 if interested or for more detail), and there’s probably nothing more pie-in-the-sky than that advocacy.

              So, I believe, anarchism is an ideal further away from the reality of the world than leftism is, but leftism is having a hard time breathing.

              I agree. My recent experiences with many leftists — maybe I just hang with the wrong crowd — have left me extremely leery of leftists gaining real political power. The company of leftists I hung out with were too rigid and self-righteous and piously hypocritical and ideological and cruel. I became too much like that and I didn’t like the guy looking at me from the mirror.
              Optimistically, the next (moral) tribe of leftists I join will be more kind, humble, flexible and less illiberal.

          2. dreamjoehill says

            Do you even know what an imperialist is?

            Apparently you think it’s anyone who disagrees with your bullshit anti-worker libertarianCOVID denial.

            1. Mensch59 says

              Apparently you think…

              Yeah, just like you thought I was an attorney. Sometimes even people like you — who fancy themselves as intelligent — can be insufferably stupid.

              Do you even know what an imperialist is?

              Yes. It’s those who extract imperial rent (i.e. un-earned income flowing from undeveloped economies to developed economies) and financial rent (i.e. usury) and those like you who support such extraction. How do you support it? By being an anti-libertarian statist.

      3. sabelmouse says

        didn’t i post those somewhere or do we move in the same circles on facebook?

        1. dreamjoehill says

          Arrogant elitists flock together.

          1. Mensch59 says

            RE “Arrogant elitists”: you’re projecting.
            GFY x2.

            1. dreamjoehill says

              Nope, there are virtually no working class “libertarians” because that political philosophy is the domain of anti-working class bourgeois elitists.

            2. Mensch59 says

              Considering your depraved indifference to and willful ignorance of left-libertarians, this ^^^ is exactly what I’d expect of you and your illiberal & arrogantly bigoted ilk.
              What a genuine example of a “leftist” you are!!
              dreamjoehill is a shit4brains member of the intelligentsia.

            3. dreamjoehill says

              Getting pretty angry, aye?

              Your comments have devolved into meaningless, yet still hateful, drivel.

              I’m not indifferent to left libertarians, I’m opposed to them and their bourgeois delusions.

              Member of the intelligensia? Thanks. I consider myself to be a working class intellectual.

              You are hiding your class background. Why?

        2. Mensch59 says

          Yeah. I took that FB post from one of your comments to Starfire.
          Did you check out that OffGuardian comment?
          Very good, no?

          1. sabelmouse says

            i’m sure i posted that as well. at least on tumblr.
            which btw deactivated my blog recently. 10 years of links /post gone.

            1. Mensch59 says

              So the same type of censorship perpetrated by Google and FB is going on with Tumblr.

            2. sabelmouse says

              well, i don’t know why, i wasn’t told, it could have been complaints from pro vaxxers, vegans, or transies.
              all people that i have upset with my posts/comments.

            3. Mensch59 says

              Probably from complaints — actually false accusations — of “transphobia”.
              As you and I have both experienced, the anti-“transphobe” crowd is a bigoted and illiberal lot.
              We’d better not get started.

            4. sabelmouse says

              all 3 groups…

            5. sabelmouse says

  9. Mensch59 says

    This history lesson is about the formation of crisis cults. It’s happening now. This is a description of another past event:

    … what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” A society in terminal decline often retreats into magical thinking. Reality is too much to bear. It places its faith in the fantastic and impossible promises of a demagogue or charlatan who promises the return of a lost golden age. The good jobs will come back. The nation will again be prosperous. The decrepit cities will be rebuilt. America will be great again. These promises, impossible to achieve, are no different from those peddled to Native Americans in the 1880s by the self-styled religious prophet Wovoka. He called on followers to carry out five-day dance ceremonies called the Ghost Dance. Native Americans donned shirts they were told protected them from bullets. They were assured that the buffalo herds would return, the dead warriors and chiefs would rise from the earth and the white men would disappear. None of his promises was realized. Many of his followers were gunned down like sheep by the U.S. army.

    Chris Hedges, “It’s Worse Than You Think”, Truthdig, 12 November 2016

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