Nongqawuse appears to be the currently accepted spelling of her name: the many alternative spellings include Nongqause, Nonqause, uNonqause, uNongqawuse, Nongquassi, Nonquassi, and Nongkwase (in Afrikaans).
The historic figure and theatrical character
A historic figure who has been the subject of numerous literary and artistic works (see for example the extensive lists by Offenburger and Davies, cited among the sources below), including a large number of plays and other performance pieces.
She was the Xhosa prophetess whose prophecies led to the Xhosa cattle-killing crisis of 1856–1857. Born in 1840 in the Kentani district and raised by her uncle (Mhlakaza, a famed spirit-medium), the oral history has it that as a young girl she was sitting on a rock at a pool near the Gxara River in 1856, when she saw the faces of her ancestors appearing in the pool. They told her that they would drive all the white settlers out of the country. A huge wind would come up and blow all the settlers into the sea. But first, as an act of faith to prove their belief in the world of the spirits, the Xhosa would have to kill all their cattle and destroy all their crops.
Among the stage plays, oral stories, films and TV plays in which she features are:
Nonquassi (Leon Schauder, 1939)
Red Earth / Umhlaba Obomvu (Saskia Janse, 2006)
The Poet and the Prophetess (Mats Larsson Gothe and Michael Williams, 2008)
Andrew Offenburger (compiler): The Xhosa Cattle-killing Movement
Sheila Boniface Davies (compiler): 2010. Creative accounts of the Xhosa cattle-killing