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|Leiden University catalogue
|The Life Story of King Shaka and Gender Tensions in the Zulu State
|History in Africa
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
|The ways in which the Zulu King Shaka has been portrayed reveal trends of thought and ideological influences prevailing in various periods. They record shifts in white conceptions of blacks in South Africa, and some of the developments in black consciousness. The present author argues that the core of Shaka's biography, the life story that most historians accept, is but an invention. Shaka's biography closely resembles that of other African leaders and these similarities point to the mythic character of the narrative and raise the possibility of investigating the various Shaka stories as symbolic representations of alternative world views, rather than as records of past times. On the basis of such an analysis the author identifies two themes: firstly, the change in succession pattern, a usual theme in many myths; secondly, Shaka's fight against pregnancy, which is seen as a symbolic representation of the gender tensions that accompanied State formation in Zululand. Notes, ref.