Whoosh! Issue 35 - August 1999

DISPARATE CULTURES:
SHOCK OF THE OTHER, COLLISION, APARTNESS, AND RESOLUTION

IAXS project #156
By Virginia Carper
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
12504 words



Introduction To Lessons Of History And Fiction (01-52)
     Introduction to the Horde (01-04)
     Historical Background of THE PRICE and DAUGHTER OF POMIRA (05-09)
     Peoples: In History And In Fiction (10-23)
     Interactions Between Disparate Peoples (24-39)
     Lands, Famines, Wars, Migrations, And Peoples (40-52)
Forming The Template (53-89)
     Names (54-64)
     Languages (65-75)
     Race (76-78)
     Religion (79-89)
Possibility Of Change (90-118)
     Attitudes About The Other (90-98)
     Attitudes (99-105)
     Vanessa/Pilee (106-110)
     Changing Attitudes (111-118)
Learning From History And Fiction (119-127)
     Actions of Individuals (119-121)
     Reactions of Others (122-125)
     The Last Lesson (126-127)
Notes (128-145)
Bibliography (146)
Biography



Disparate Cultures:
Shock Of the Other, Collision, Apartness, and Resolution




Introduction To Lessons Of History And Fiction

Xena: Kaltaka turned out to be the key. When you went out there, they thought it was a truce to retrieve the wounded. I let my fear and hatred blind me to everything.
Gabrielle: Sometimes the past can do that. Xena, if I had been through what you've been through --
Xena: No. No. You understand hatred, but you have never given into it.
  -- THE PRICE (44/233)

"My vision is of a South Africa that is totally non-racial...a new South Africa, a free South Africa, where all of us, black and white together, will walk tall; where all of us, black and white together, will hold hands as we stride forth on the Freedom March to usher in the new South Africa where people will matter because they are human beings made in the image of God."
  -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate


Introduction to the Horde

[01] In the Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) episode THE PRICE (44/233), Xena tells Gabrielle what happened when she first encountered the Horde: they skinned her soldiers alive. The Horde left Xena with nightmare memories of her tortured men. When Xena meets the Horde again, she panics. After the siege by the Horde, Xena explains to Gabrielle how she let her fear and hatred govern her murderous actions.

[02] Gabrielle, who had no experience with the Horde, keeps asking Xena, "What do they want'" Rebuffed by Xena, she persists in learning about them. She finds that 'kaltaka' means water, and that the giving of water is considered an act of truce by the Horde. Through Gabrielle's efforts, Xena is able to end the hostilities between the Athenians and the Horde with relatively little bloodshed.

[03] THE PRICE and its sequel, DAUGHTER OF POMIRA (79/411), deals with the stranger one encounters. Through Gabrielle's actions in THE PRICE, Xena confronts her fear of the Horde and moves beyond her terror. In DAUGHTER OF POMIRA, Xena uncovers a key to ending the Horde-Greek conflict: Vanessa/Pilee, a Greek girl adopted by the Horde. With her help, the Horde and the Greek townspeople reach a truce.

[04] THE PRICE was based on an event in southern African history. By comparing that history to the fictional story an understanding of cultural dynamics can be gleaned. By examining the fiction and fact, one can comprehend how different cultures interact with each other.


Historical Background of THE PRICE and DAUGHTER OF POMIRA

[05] In THE PRICE and DAUGHTER OF POMIRA, two alien peoples, the Greeks and Pomira were at war. THE PRICE presented the conflict. DAUGHTER OF POMIRA gave the hope of peace. Repulsed by the brutal killing of Athenian soldiers by the Pomira, the viewer was then confronted by Gabrielle to their humanity (THE PRICE). Then in the person of Vanessa/Pilee (a Greek abducted by the Pomira as a child) the viewer comes to grips with their notions of the familiar and the other, since Vanessa/Pilee is both (DAUGHTER OF POMIRA).

[06] In his interview with Bret Rudnick (Whoosh! #22, July 1998), Steven Sears said that the source for THE PRICE was the movie Zulu (1964, Cyril Enfield). That movie depicted the Battle of Rorke's Drift (KwaZulu, January 22-23, 1879) of the Anglo-Zulu War. In his teleplay, Mr. Sears wanted to pay homage to the soldiers of both sides. He cast the Athenian guard as the British army and the Pomira warriors in the role of the Zulu impi.

[07] THE PRICE presented the conflict from the Greek point of view by labeling the Pomira "The Horde". (The connotation of 'horde' is a swarm of insects.) Lurking in the forest, the Horde patiently wait to charge the Athenian fort. But before a massacre happens, Xena rallies the dispirited Athenians to fight them to a standstill. After Gabrielle learns that the Horde have a code of honor, she institutes a truce. Inspired by Gabrielle's example, Xena challenges the 'Hordemaster' to single combat. When their leader is defeated, the Horde retreat, as do the Athenians.

[08] DAUGHTER OF POMIRA explores the Greek-Pomira conflict in a more intimate setting. A Greek family and a Pomira family claim the same child as their daughter. Living in an fortified town, the Greek parents lose their daughter Vanessa to the Horde. Xena and Gabrielle find Vanessa (now Pilee) who was adopted by Cirvik, a Pomira chieftain. The two women return her to her Greek family. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, Vanessa/Pilee wants to go home to her Pomira family. To seek a satisfactory solution, Xena and Gabrielle wisely empower Vanessa/Pilee, who decides that she is both Greek and Pomira. A glimmer of understanding occurs when, for the sake of their daughter, both families agree to be joined.

[09] According to the Whoosh! Episode Guide, DAUGHTER OF POMIRA is based on The Searchers (1956, John Ford). This movie, in turn, is based on the story of Cynthia Ann Parker who was kidnapped by the Comanches as a child. Although the history of Texas and South Africa differ, they do share commonalities, such as multiple cultures in collision, indigenous peoples relating to settler cultures, and shifting relations among the races. For these reasons, the episode DAUGHTER OF POMIRA fits into the South African milieu. The Greek townspeople in DAUGHTER OF POMIRA represent not only Texan settlers but also Afrikaners of southern Africa. (The Afrikaner interpretation is based my extrapolating Mr. Sears' statements about THE PRICE to DAUGHTER OF POMIRA).


Peoples: In History And In Fiction

Vanesa: My father Cirvik. My talk Pomira.
  -- DAUGHTER OF POMIRA

"If anyone should say that the Athenians proved to be the saviours of Hellas, he would not fail to hit the truth; these were they who preferring that Hellas should continue to exist in freedom roused all of Hellas."
  -- Herodotus, History

God bless Africa
Let the horn of her people rise high up
In your love hear our prayers
God bless our people.
  -- "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("God Bless Africa") by Enoch Sontonga (Zulu school teacher, 1897), South Africa National Anthem

[10] About the only fact that many people know about South Africa is its former policy of apartheid which was instituted in 1948 by an Afrikaner government. Apartheid Was dismantled during the 1990's by President F.W. (Frederick Willem) de Klerk, an Afrikaner. First, he released Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990. Then, he had his government repeal apartheid. Finally, to construct a post-apartheid constitution, he met with various racial groups of South Africa. In 1993, President de Klerk and Mr. Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize together for their joint efforts to establish a non-racial democracy in South Africa

[11] In 1994, South Africa's first all-race elections were held, and Nelson Mandela was elected president. How did apartheid come to be? What happened at the beginning? Can the fictional XWP episodes shed any light on these questions' Are there any parallels that could point to the beginning or ending of apartheid?

..The Athenians and the British

Is it for passion of gold they come,
Or price to make great their dwelling?
  -- Euripides, Iphigenia In Tauris

[12] The British wanted the land near Table Bay (the Cape of Good Hope) as a naval base on their trade route around Africa to India. The area was an ideal stopover for ships, for it had an excellent climate and good supplies of food and water. Unfortunately for the British, the VOC (Netherlands East India Company) owned the Cape Colony. After the VOC collapsed, the British occupied the colony in 1795. Following the Treaty of Amiens (1802), Great Britain was forced to hand the colony back to the Dutch. Later in the Napoleonic Wars (1792-1815), the British seized the opportunity to reoccupy the Cape in 1806. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain emerged as one of the major powers of Europe.

[13] Since the 1600's, the British endeavored to build a commercial empire. Because of its location on the trade route to India, South Africa was key to expanding British profits worldwide. To gain control of the Cape, the British played African nations against each other. Then they settled the Cape Colony, forcing the Afrikaners to relocate to the interior.

[14] In 1869, diamonds were discovered in Transvaal, where many Afrikaners had resettled. The British quickly moved to gain control over the diamond fields. To that end, newspaper editors in Natal (another British colony in South Africa), wrote, "it would be well shown by strong measures, that the British government is supreme in South Africa, and means to remain so". By 1880, the British had annexed Transvaal, the Transkei, Basutoland, and KwaZulu to Natal and the Cape Colony.

[15] Why was the Athenian guard in Pomira territory (THE PRICE)? Were they there to claim more territory for Athens? Why did Athens need a fort near the river? Obviously, Athens neither knew of Pomira territorial claims nor they did care. The Athenian soldiers marched into the forests to establish a fort, and were stopped by the Pomira. Will Athens again expand into Pomira lands?

[16] A founding member of the Delian League (which included the city states of Ionia and Chalcidice, cities on the shores of the Hellespont and Bosporus, and the Aegean Islands), Athens used the League as a stepping stone to an empire. (The League was formed in 478 BCE to provide a defense against the Persians). In 472 BCE, Athens burned Naxos, a League member, and enslaved her people. To control other member states, Athens stationed garrisons throughout the Aegean.

[17] In 463 BCE, Thasos, another member, was forced to handover its mines and mainland possessions to Athens. By 440 BCE, the Athenian Empire encircled the Aegean Sea from Rhodes to Thrace, with its sphere of influence stretching as far as Boeotia and the Peloponnesus. (One of the towns that Athens attempted to rule was Amphipolis).

..The Villagers and the Afrikaners

"We quit this Colony under the full assurance that the English Government has nothing more to require of us, and will allow us to govern ourselves without its interference in the future."
  -- Pieter Retief (Voortrekker (Afrikaner) leader) 1836

[18] The Afrikaners of South Africa were Dutch settlers of the Cape Colony, who were later joined by French Huguenots and German refugees of the Thirty Years War (1619-1648). Many of these people lived like the local Africans. From land holding to land holding, they traveled in their ox-drawn wagons, grazing their livestock. These settlers known as trekboers [NOTE 01] developed their own culture, culling from European and African traditions. To form their own language, Afrikaans, they merged Dutch with Malay and Khoisan.

[19] Bound together by their common language, Afro-European culture, and Calvinist religion, the Afrikaners deeply resented the alien British who ruled the Cape. The fiercely independent Afrikaners began their exodus, called the Great Trek ('Groot Trek'), to the interior in the 1830's. The Voortrekkers established independent republics, free from British influence, where they could be Afrikaners. However, the land that they chose belonged to the Khoikhoi, San, and Xhosa [NOTE 02]. After planting their farms, the Afrikaners regarded the Africans to be the trespassers.

[20] In ancient Greece, many citizens wished to participate in their city governments. To ease the discontent, city governors encouraged people to migrate across the Aegean. The new colony, called an 'apoika' ('a settlement far from home'), severed its connection to the parent city. The Greek colonists were like the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony. The Greek walled town in DAUGHTER OF POMIRA was built on "empty lands". Desiring a new life in a new land, the settlers never realized that the land belonged to someone else. Subject to attacks by the Pomira, the townspeople never questioned their right to build their town. By their reasoning, the villagers owned the land and the Horde were the interlopers.

..The amaZulu and the Pomira

[21] According to their creation stories, the Zulu came from heaven. In their language, 'amaZulu' means the Zulu people, and the word 'Zulu' means heaven. Mvelingqangi lowered his two children (a man and a woman) down to the earth by an umbilical cord. When the two landed, they cut the cord with a reed. The amaZulu are descendants of these children of Mvelingqangi.

[22] Once part of the Mthethwa Kingdom, the Zulu were formed into a separate kingdom by Shaka Zulu in 1817. As the first Zulu king, Shaka required mandatory military service for men and women, and developed the distinctive Zulu style of warfare [NOTE 03]. At the time of his assassination by his half-brothers in 1828, Shaka had expanded the borders of his kingdom to include nearly all of Natal.

[23] In contrast to the amaZulu, the Pomira are hunters and gatherers. No crops or cattle herds are seen near the caves where Pilee lived (DAUGHTER OF POMIRA). Whether this group is a clan or the entire people is unknown. Also unknown is whether the Pomira use these caves as permanent residences or temporary ones. The caves could be a temporary camp on a standard route that the Pomira follow in seach of food.


Interactions Between Disparate Peoples

Xena: We didn't ask for this. If they want a fight to the death, they're going to get it.
  -- THE PRICE

Vanessa/Pilee: Honor life
Xena: Well, you have a funny way of showing it. They killed hundreds of us.
Vanessa/Pilee: You killers. You kill trees, earth, all. And when we say 'No, go from here", you kill Pomira."
  -- DAUGHTER OF POMIRA

"Some of these Boers asked permission to live upon our borders. I was led to believe they would live with me as my own people lived, that is looking to me as to a father and a friend... But instead of this, I now heard that the Boers consider all those farms as their own, and were buying and selling them one to the other, and driving out by one means or another my own people."
  -- Moshoeshoe (King of the Basotho, 1786-1870), "Letter to Sir George Grey", 1858 [NOTE 04]

[24] When people first meet, their impressions determine how they will relate to each other in the future. Added to the first impression are later experiences until a complete picture is developed. That picture becomes the template for interacting with strangers. Conflicts arise when that template is erroneous.

.. The Greeks and Pomira

Xena: I can still remember the howl of the Horde the screaming of my men...My men, they were nothing but bones. Stripped of their flesh and tortured as they were skinned.
  -- THE PRICE

[25] Xena experienced first hand the cruelty of the Horde. This is a group of people who skin their victims alive. An explanation for their actions came from Vanessa/Pilee who told Gabrielle that the Greeks killed 'everything'. What did the settlers do to enrage the Horde? Did they clear the forests for farming? Did they take sacred fish from the river? Unwittingly, the Greeks interfered with traditional Pomira life. The Pomira told them to leave. Misunderstanding them, the Greeks killed the Pomira. The Pomira responded in kind. How did these two peoples reach such an impasse?

..The Dutch and the Khoikhoi

[26] Consider the relations between the Dutch and Khoikhoi. The Khoikhoi were unknown to Europeans until the Dutch used the Cape as a refueling station. At first, the Khoikhoi were delighted to trade their cattle with the Dutch. They no longer had to travel long distances for copper goods. Learning how desperate the Dutch were for meat, the Khoikhoi commanded more trade goods for old cows. When Dutch demand became insatiable, the Khoikhoi stopped trading. For fresh meat, the Dutch raided Khoisan settlements. The Khoikhoi retaliated by killing sailors arriving on other ships.

[27] When the Dutch first encountered the Khoikhoi, they regarded the Khoisan language, which uses clicks, as farting sounds. They called the Khoikhoi 'Hottentots', 'people who cannot speak properly'. Further horrifying the Dutch, the Khoikhoi ate raw entrails with great relish. By the 1700's, Europeans routinely used the word Hottentot to insult each other.

[28] The Khoikhoi assumed that the Dutch knew that cattle were the foundation of their culture. Meanwhile, the Dutch saw the cows as commodities. They reasoned that the Khoikhoi would breed more for sale. The Dutch needed the meat, and the Khoikhoi were the only suppliers. Neither people understood the thinking of the other in regards to cattle.

[29] If a cow can cause such confusion, then the Greek-Pomira conflict becomes more understandable. The Greeks and the Pomira have only "kaltaka" as a point of commonality. Since THE PRICE is based on the Anglo-Zulu War, perhaps examining that history will shed light on the impasse.

..The British and amaZulu

"I am sending you against the whites who have invaded Zululand and driven away our cattle."
  -- Cetshwayo (King of the Zulu, 1825-84) addressing his impi, January 17, 1879

[30] Writing in 1933, T. H. (Terence Hanbury) White, noted author of The Once And Future King, described Xena's Horde nightmare. In Farewell Victoria [NOTE 05], he pictured the Zulu fighting the British, "It was like fighting a different and incalculable species - a species like termites. . . The Zulus came on, blood-lusting, incomprehensible. These death disdaining stabbers were impossible. Their black bodies smelt strangely, their expressions were inhuman; their cries were in a foreign tongue, were those of beasts and cattle."

[31] During the 1870's, Natal newspapers opined that the Zulu were good neighbors. However, the British government felt threatened since KwaZulu was the largest African kingdom in southern Africa. Sir Bartle Frere, the British high commissioner for South Africa, disseminated atrocity stories to "relieve South Africa of the Zulu incubus". Following Sir Frere's lead, the newspapers painted the Zulu as "celibate manslaying gladiators".

[32] Meanwhile, King Cetshwayo was baffled about why the British would want to invade his kingdom. He had done nothing to provoke them. Moreover, he had returned all the cattle stolen by his people. Cetshwayo felt that trying to prevent war was like "trying to ward off a falling tree". If the British overran KwaZulu, they would force the men to be their laborers, and the 'red soldiers' would use the women for their pleasure.

[33] The Horde skinned Xena's soldiers. A similar incident happened during the Anglo-Zulu War. After the Battle of Isandlwana (KwaZulu, January 22, 1879), which was one of the worst defeats of the British army, the Zulu disemboweled the 'red soldiers' and took trophies. The British regarded the Zulu as ghouls. But they did not know that the Zulu were giving the spirits of the 'red soldiers' safe passage to the afterlife. Because of the incredible bloodshed, the Zulu warriors felt compelled to undergo extensive purification rituals which included wearing the clothing of their dead foes.

[34] The British had no desire to know the amaZulu. For their part, the amaZulu treated the British as if they were another African kingdom. Likewise, the Greeks and the Pomira had no desire to understand each other.

..The Afrikaners and amaZulu

[35] Another part of the conflict between the Greeks and Pomira are the settlers. Their experience with the Pomria is based on war. The settlers see the Pomira as Afrikaners did the amaZulu. The Afrikaners regarded the Khoikhoi, Sotho, Xhosa, and Zulu as "the enemies of their blood". For one hundred years (since 1779), the Afrikaners fought nine wars with these people. The years of constant warfare hardened the Afrikaners' attitudes, thereby sowing the seeds of apartheid.

[36] While the Voortrekkers tramped through KwaZulu, they were harrassed by the Zulu impi . The worst attack was Bloukrans Massacre (February 17, 1838), when the impi killed five hundred people camped along the Tugela River. The Afrikaners called the place where so many died Weenen, 'weeping'.

[37] Meanwhile, the leader of those of Voortrekkers, Piet Retief was murdered at King Dingane's kraal (residence). The king invited Retief and his men to a festival at his royal kraal. During the feasting, Dingane shouted, "BABULALENI ABATHAKATHI" ('KILL THE WIZARDS!'). The king's executioners dragged Retief and his men to the hill outside the kraal, and drove wooden stakes up their bodies.

[38] The Voortrekkers took their vengeance at the Battle of Blood River (December 16, 1838). Their leader, Andries Pretorius forged a covenant with God. He had the Voortrekkers vow that if God granted them victory, they would build a church in His honor and keep the day holy. The Voortrekkers defeated the Zulu impi and forced Dingane to flee. Later in Pietermaritzburg, they built the Church of the Vow, and consecrated December 16 [NOTE 06].

[39] Dingane had his reasons for executing Retief. He understood the Voortrekkers' desire for self rule, and their voracious appetite for land. Retief had occupied land in KwaZulu without his permission. To rid the kingdom of them, Dingane trumped up charges of witchcraft against Retief and his men.


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