Fragments from the End of Empire


Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa first published Ualalapi: Fragments from the End of Empire in Portuguese in 1987. Named one of Africa’s hundred best books of the twentieth century, it reflects on Mozambique’s past and present through interconnected narratives related to the last ruler of the Gaza Empire, Ngungunhane. Defeated by the Portuguese in 1895, Ngungunhane was reclaimed for propaganda purposes by Mozambique’s post-independence government as a national and nationalist hero. The regime celebrated his resistance to the colonial occupation of southern Mozambique as a precursor to the twentieth-century struggle for independence. In Ualalapi, Ungulani challenges that ideological celebration and portrays Ngungunhane as a despot, highlighting the violence and tyranny that were hallmarks of the Gaza Empire. This fresh look at the history of late nineteenth-century southeast Africa provides a prism through which to examine the machinations of those in power in Mozambique during the 1980s.

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