Shaka Zulu

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Essay Shaka Zulu

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Examines the life and career of the legendary early 19th Century African leader, focusing on others’ conflicting versions of his life.

The short life and amazing career of Shaka Zulu (1795-1828), the first king of the Zulus, has been one of the most enduring and flexible legends of modern history. In the intense mixture of conflicting interests tribal, racial, colonial/*in southern Africa over the last two centuries Shaka’s image has been shaped and re-shaped to serve an amazing variety of purposes ranging from calling his own people to battle to justifications for the apartheid policies of the state of South Africa.

Carolyn Hamilton has shown that the development of ideas about Shaka which continue to have an impact today/*is more complex than even recent re-examinations of the colonial legacy have shown. Hamilton demonstrates some of the ways in which this image has been shaped in order to meet the needs of groups that, very often, have completely opposite goals in mind. Most …