The setting of this short story is a funeral. Lesedi, the second wife in a polygamous marriage, reflects on her life with her playboy husband during his funeral. The church is packed with her late husband’s relatives many of whom she has never met before. She was young and pretty when her husband proposed to her and she did not give one moment’s thought to the feelings of the principal wife whom she displaced when she married him. Sitting on the pew next to her is a well-dressed woman weeping openly. Lesedi is annoyed when the woman appears to know everything about her while she knows nothing about the woman. She assumes that she is a distant relative of her late husband. The truth is revealed. The well-dressed woman is her husband’s third wife by traditional marriage. What Lesedi did to the principal wife many years ago has now been done to her. The story explores the question: where does one draw the boundary between a husband’s infidelity and a polygamous marriage in traditional African society?
The year is 1879 and the British government has given the independent Zulu kingdom an ultimatum whose terms effectively destroy their independence. The ultimatum is unacceptable to king Cetshwayo and his advisors and war is inevitable. After the expiry of the deadline, British troops under Lord Chelmsford cross the Buffalo River into Zululand. The…
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