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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Chiefly Authority, Leapfrogging Headmen and the Political Economy of Zululand, South Africa, ca. 1930-1950
Author:MacKinnon, Aran S.
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic terms:South Africa
political economy
traditional rulers
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/823316
Abstract:More precise knowledge about the economic position and role of Zulu chiefs in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s, a period of severe economic and political instability, is needed in order to explain more fully their approach to segregationist politics and their links with rural people. This paper illuminates the ambiguity of chiefly authority within the white-dominated State of South Africa by analysing the material underpinnings of chieftancy in Zululand. After a discussion of the background to the local political economy and chiefly authority, the paper deals with the circumscribed role that the State assigned to chiefs; chiefs' participation in recruitment for the Second World War; and the rise of the 'izinduna' ('tribal' headmen, chiefs' deputies). Finally, the case of Chief Molife, who struggled in vain against the 'izinduna' and local officials who undermined his authority, is examined. The paper concludes that, by the end of the 1940s, chiefs in Zululand relied on externally derived support from the State both for their material well-being and their political status. The chiefs' ability to maintain a certain amount of popular support rested largely on their continued control of diminishing communal land in the reserves and their attempts to capture the popular imagination with re-invented Zulu nationalism. Notes, ref., sum.