Makhanda was a Xhosa leader and warrior-prophet who lived in the early nineteenth century and led a massive attack on the British in Grahamstown in 1819. His clarity of thinking and personal charisma propelled him into the position of leading spiritual adviser to the powerful Chief Ndlambe of the Rharhabe. Although he was portrayed in the written record as a religious fanatic and millinarian prophet who led his own people to destruction, this evocative account demonstrates that the popular heroic view of Makhanda as one of South Africa's early freedom fighters is far more justified. With meticulous chrology, Julia C. Wells offers a major revision of our understanding of the life of this often controversial figure.
Julia Wells is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Rhodes University, South Africa. She has also served three terms as a local government councillor in Makana Municipality and has served in the provincial executive of the African National Congress in the Eastern Cape Province. She is a founder member of the Egazini Outreach Project for community arts and crafts in the city of Grahamstown.