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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Restructuring within the Zulu royal house: clan splitting and the consolidation of royal power and resources under Shaka
Author:Hamilton, CarolynISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social networks
Zulu polity
traditional polities
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020189708707870
Abstract:Most work to date on clan or lineage subdivision has focused on secessionist processes, symptomatic of the disintegration of chiefdoms and polities. This article seeks to develop an understanding of clan splitting and of the creation of new 'izibongo' (clan names) in the context of social and political aggregation rather than disintegration. It focuses on evidence for intermarriage within ruling clans or lineages through the creation of collateral subclans or sections, in the typically exogamous, expanding polities of precolonial southeast Africa. In particular, it looks at the consolidation of royal power under Shaka through examination of 'ukudabula' (the excision from the royal house of certain of its sections) and other lineage rearrangements, as well as of senior appointments which these rearrangements facilitated. The author argues that the 'ukudabula' of portions of the original ruling elite had the effect of placing important members of the royal Zulu at one remove from the kingship through the creation of new clan affiliations. The distanced sections of the royal house provided an important source for recruitment of the administrative corps of the new kingdom. The restructuring of the senior Zulu lineages by such means not only secured the Zulu monarch from powerful royal opposition, but also facilitated intermarriage within what was originally the Zulu ruling lineage, circumventing the prevailing social rule of exogamy through the creation of new identities. Intermarriage had the effect of concentrating wealth and status in the hands of an emergent ruling class within Zulu society. Bibliogr., notes, ref.