Colloquium on the King Shaka Era
UKZN’s Campbell Collections was invited to participate in a Colloquium on Contextualising the Era of King Shaka Zulu at eBandla Lodge in Ballito recently.
The invitation was extended by Mr Nhlanhla Mtaka, the editor and founder of Bayede Newspaper. Campbell Collections was represented by Mr Senzo Mkhize, Head of Collections and Ms Luleka Jakeni, Senior Museologist.
The colloquium was part of a broader initiative to revisit and rewrite certain aspects of Zulu history, in particular the history of King Shaka Zulu. Shaka was one of the kings who emerged in the context of what historian, Professor John D Omer-Cooper referred to as the Northern Nguni political revolution. Several books, manuscripts, journal articles, and films have been produced on him.
In his address, Professor Hamilton Simelane, Igunundu Holdings COO, noted that most of the writing about Shaka and the society he lived in has been plagued by inaccuracies and misinterpretations. In some instances, this has been due to poor research while in others, to the general prejudices that have characterised most writing on Africa by Western scholars. The result is a historiography that does not fully recognise African agency. Most importantly, there is a lack of analysis of the context within which Shaka emerged and grew to become one of the most powerful leaders in southern Africa.
Despite previous theories, such as the great man theory, or self-made leader theory, historians now agree that leaders are mainly produced by the circumstance of the time. The main aim of the colloquium was thus to understand Shaka’s actions and achievements and the important part played by other great kings and leaders such as King Zwide of the AmaNxumalo Kingdom, King Dingiswayo of the Mthethwa Kingdom, King Bhungane of the AmaHlubi Kingdom, and King Zihlandlo Mkhize of the abaMbo Kingdom. The colloquium addressed many important topics on the socio-political and economic situation in Shaka’s time.
Mkhize delivered a paper on Information Collection, Preservation and Dissemination in Shaka’s Time, while Jakeni conducted a guided tour of the Campbell Collections museum artifacts and paintings of Shaka’s time. The Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini attended the colloquium as a guest speaker. He was very impressed by the Campbell Collections’ artifacts and Zulu history books.
Words: Senzosenkosi Mkhize