Causes of the Mfecane Essay example

867 Words May 27th, 2012 4 Pages
Topic – Discuss the causes of the Mfecane, taking into consideration the variety of historiography on this event.
Although no one can pinpoint exactly what caused the Mfecane, most believe the causes emerged at the end of the eighteenth and the start of the nineteenth centuries. Based on the historiography covering this event, historians believed many elements caused the Mfecane. Originally, everyone believed it was exclusively due to the rise and expansion of the Zulu nation under the rule of Shaka, but more recently, historians believe that although this played a major role in the cause of the Mfecane, it was by no means the sole cause. There are now many additional theories on what else contributed to the Mfecane. The primary theories
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However, the most discussed cause theory remains the one of Shaka’s presence and influence throughout Southern Africa. There is no denying that while under his reign, the Zulus changed drastically as they expanded and grew militaristically. During his reign, the use of different military techniques and the introduction of new weaponry such as the iklwa, which were the short stabbing spears they used, were very effective. These new fighting techniques and weapons won them many battles and large tracts of land. The unsolved mystery, however, is whether Shaka was the person he was originally made out to be in popular legend.
Many historians changed their view on Shaka when evidence was discovered that the European portrayal of Shaka as a raging tyrant was just a propaganda scam to cover their own maltreatment and slavery of many of the Southern African indigenous people. Nevertheless, enough evidence exists to suggest that he still may have been a ruthless yet proud leader of the Zulus who was their leader at a pivotal point in their history and who was able to capitalise on the other issues such as the expanding population and the European encroachment. Carolyn Anne Hamilton wrote an article in which she argued this point.
“...the claim that the image of Shaka-as-monster was an ‘alibi’ invented by Europeans in the 1820s to mask their slaving activities. Reconsideration of this claim reveals that it is based on the misuse

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