Manipulation of subject peoples' history, legends and myths: The case of Prestor John.
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This article claims that John Buchan’s Prester John, a small novel of 1910 can be read, arguably, as a settler novel setting out to undercut the indigenous Africans’ wars of resistance and self-determination by manipulation of myths, legends and history. The claim is also that this novel by the private secretary to the British High Commissioner to South Africa belittles the Africans’ claim to connections with their legendary ancestral heroes. There is a contrived, systematic denigration of “the black other” at the frontier so that he appears as if he has no meaningful claim to a history of organisation to fall back on. As savages, Africans are rendered blind, leaderless and motiveless. All that is done to benefit the Empire. Some extensive supporting examples will be drawn from Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines. However, in the process of denigrating the Africans, John Buchan is caught up in some contradictions. All this demonstrates that the colonial process itself was/is complex even to its perpetrators, as shall be shown here.