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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Shaka the Great
Author:Peires, JeffISNI
Periodical:Historia: amptelike orgaan
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:oral history
Zulu polity
traditional rulers
About person:Shaka king of Zululand (ca. 1787-1828)ISNI
Abstract:Recognizing the unavoidable bias of colonial sources, this article reassesses the personality and career of Shaka by means of oral tradition alone. In doing so, it explicitly rejects the opinion, currently prevalent in South African studies, that oral historical narratives are nothing more than a variant of oral narratives generally in favour of the view that oral historical narratives possess underlying invariant structural elements. The body of the article consists of a structural analysis of the oral historical narratives concerning Shaka's accession to power and his role in the death of his mother Nandi. Shaka emerges from this analysis as a distinctive figure who intervened decisively in the history of the Zulu kingdom. The extraordinary violence of his reign and the abrupt break with social norms inherent in his abolition of circumcision must be explained in terms of his ultimate objective of destroying the family and replacing it with an entirely new social organism based on the State. Dingane, by assassinating Shaka, prevented him from realizing his ambitions, and it is Dingane, not Shaka, who must be seen as the true founder of the mature Zulu State. Notes, ref., sum. in English and Afrikaans. [Journal abstract]