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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Local perceptions of political entities along the southern bank of the Zambesi in the 16th and early 17th centuries
Author:Roufe, Gai
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic terms:Mozambique
Subjects:Mwene Mutapa polity
traditional rulers
historical sources
Abstract:This article aims at elucidating the ways in which the local political entities along the southern bank of the Zambesi river (in present-day Zimbabwe and Mozambique) were perceived by the indigenous people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The article concerns two important types of political entities: the one the larger type, the Mocaranga, incorporating the political entities of the other, the Karanga states or kingdoms, notably the Monomotapa, the Kiteve, the Sedanda, and the Chicanga. The research is based on a corpus of written historical documents related to the Portuguese presence in the region at the time. Although the corpus has an inherent Euro-centric bias, it contains a number of documents produced by local people, notably four letters dictated by the leader of the dominant polity Monomotapa Gatsi Lucere to the Portuguese governor (dating from 1620) and two dictated letters by Monomotapa Mavura (1643 and 1645). The author argues that in order to properly understand the polities of the time, local concepts and ideologies according to which these political entities were perceived must be at the heart of the examination. The most basic concept by which these polities were understood by the local populations was the concept of kinship. This concept consisted of affinal and sanguineous relations that were vastly different from those in western cultures. The polities' social and political boundaries were determined by these kinship relations. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]