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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Beyond the 'Zulu aftermath': migrations, identities, histories
Author:Wright, JohnISNI
Periodical:Journal of Natal and Zulu History
Geographic term:Southern Africa
Subjects:ethnic warfare
Zulu polity
ethnic identity
Abstract:The notion of the 'mfecane' was one that existed virtually unchallenged in the imaginations of large numbers of people, including virtually all academic historians of southern Africa from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. It had three main components: that a chain reaction of wars and population movements had swept over much of the eastern half of southern Africa in the 1820s and 1830s; that the chain reaction had originally been set in motion by the supposedly explosive expansion of the Zulu kingdom under Shaka; and that from these upheavals had emerged a number of new, enlarged States which played a central role in the history of the subcontinent through the rest of the 19th century. The present author examines the stereotype of each of the five major sets of migrations embedded in the notion of the 'mfecane' and demonstrates that, if the Zulu had any role at all in initiating them, it was only one in a complex of factors, and that after their initial stages the migrations ceased to connect with the history of the Zulu kingdom. The connected-up histories which make up the 'mfecane' narrative need to be taken apart and the migrations rescrambled into their constituent parts. The notion that the history of African societies in southern Africa in the 19th century can be understood in terms of a 'Zulu aftermath' needs to be dropped 'tout court'. Notes, ref., online sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]