The legend of the lost city - or, The man with golden balls

Hall, M 1995, 'The legend of the lost city - or, The man with golden balls' , Journal of Southern African Studies, 21 (2) , pp. 179-199.

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The image of Africa as the 'dark continent' predates the beginning of colonial penetration by many centuries. This paper traces these notions through sources such as the Bible, medieval travel fiction and legends of fabulous wealth. It is argued that such myths had a three part structure: ancient civilization, dark destruction, and later discovery. By the time Great Zimbabwe was 'discovered', its ruins could immediately be inscribed with meanings that confirmed old beliefs and justified the colonial enterprise. A popular literature developed, leading to a complex interplay with the emerging discipline of archaeology as practised in Africa. The consequence has been a widely held view of Africa's past, as prevalent in Hollywood as in the apartheid past, which allows for little change and which inevitably seeks inspiration from outside the continent. This view finds expression today in the production of popular culture: best selling novels, film romances and resort development — the opulent 'Lost City' in the one-time homeland of Bophuthatswana.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Subjects / Themes > D History General and Old World > DT Africa
Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > No Research Centre
Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Applied Research in Health, Welfare and Policy
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Southern African Studies
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0305-7070
Depositing User: AL Sherwin
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2010 08:37
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 22:18

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