Print Page | Close Window

What had caused the Mfecane?

Printed From: WorldHistoria Forum
Forum Name: Africa to 1860
Forum Description:
Moderators: WH

Printed Date: 04 Aug 2020 at 05:15
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.03 -

Topic: What had caused the Mfecane?
Posted By: Guests
Subject: What had caused the Mfecane?
Date Posted: 30 Aug 2011 at 16:31
The Mfecane was a period of chaos and indigenous tribal warfare in South Africa that saw the near  depopulation of the region from 1815 to around 1840 time-frame. Also during that period saw the growth of trade and the establishment of several European colonies. The most notable event of that period, that i am aware of, had been the rise of the Zulu kingdom.

So the question is, was it caused by European adventurer's as claimed by the "Cobbing controversy" or through tribal warfare that saw the eventual Rise of the militaristic Zulu Kingdom under Shaka? Also, was there anything else that was created or sprang from this event, what is the legacy from that time period?

Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 11 Sep 2011 at 06:54
You posted a valid question that has not received a response Panther, perhaps it is because you've sought to view it as a singularity and not within a Bantu perspective and the movements of the various tribes throughout South Central Africa, which has a much wider time-frame. The Cobbing Thesis of 1988 [a convenient shortening of his article in the JAH (29:1988. p. 487-519), "The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo"] can be found on-line--" rel="nofollow -
--is of interest because its principal thrust was directed against the then current teaching of regional history under the apartheid regime. Further, it condemned the false Afrocentrism [that is speaking of the violence as the immediate product of African societies themselves] then in vogue which projected the Europeans (in this instance the Boers) as innocent bystanders.
The usual rationalization with respect to the Zulu themselves within the construct that Cobbing attacked was more or less the attitude that the early 19th century Zulu were more or less a phenomenon akin to the 17th century "Jagas" found in Portuguese historical sources on Congo and Angola. However, the take given by the South African state clearly ignored the role of slavers and other intruders already a part of the general narrative on the Yakas and Imbangala as well as the consolidation of the Lunda. It is this latter perspective that received total silence in "official historiography" and in that sense Cobbing was a needed corrective. Now with respect to the Zulu, it would be incorrect to assert the political consolidation of the Nguni as a direct product of interlopers since there was nothing novel in their ascendancy when discussing "kingdoms" in South Central Africa. Given the fact that the Mthethwa period already had "European" players, I am at a loss to explain how Cobbing can be considered "controversial", unless presented as a rationale for the victimization game.

Honi soit qui mal y pense

Posted By: Windemere
Date Posted: 12 Sep 2011 at 05:01
Thanks for posting Cobbing's Thesis in this thred. It will take some time to read and analyze it. An interesting traditional view of the Mfecane can be found in "The Washing of the Spears", by the historian Donald Morris.

Dis Aliter Visum
"Beware of martyrs and those who would die for their beliefs; for they frequently make many others die with them, often before them, sometimes instead of them."

Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 16:10
Correct as you usually are doctor. Thank you for your valuable input and the link you provided. Cobbings thesis came about when Apartheid regime was still the official system of the South African government. I suspect your closing statement is most likely the correct interpretation for the ongoing controversy?

Like Windemere, i too came to know about it through the book, "The Washing of the spears"

Print Page | Close Window

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 12.03 -
Copyright ©2001-2019 Web Wiz Ltd. -