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King Dingane : a treacherous tyrant or an African nationalist?

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dc.contributor.advisor Cubbin, A.E.
dc.contributor.advisor Mathenjwa, L.F.
dc.contributor.author Shongwe, Acquirance Vusumuzi.
dc.date.accessioned 2013-01-08T07:21:38Z
dc.date.available 2013-01-08T07:21:38Z
dc.date.issued 2004
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10530/1123
dc.description A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts in fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History at the University of Zululand, South Africa, 2004. en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis focuses on the reasons why King Dingane of the Zulu nation has been portrayed predominantly as a treacherous tyrant in South Africa's Eurocentric historical databases and poses the question whether he should, instead, not be regarded as the forerunner of African nationalism. It also examines the roots of European imperialism in South Africa, as recorded in governmental, geographical, trade and missionary records, and points out that, as with the first colonial invasion by Islam that resulted in the Tarikh chronicles, European imperialism was also inherently based on foreign and nationalistic biases. The study concludes that these preconceived notions have adulterated and overwhelmed the purer African voice that is uniquely represented by the oral tradition. Because the subdued African voice is regarded as more reliable than the written Eurocentric records, this study attempts to augment the Africa- centered work of Africanist historians who have, for several decades, revisited the oral history of Africa in order to recover, rehabilitate and represent a point of view and perspective intrinsic and special to Africa. The history of King Dingane of the Zulus encapsulates the problem of African historiography best because most of the sources from which accounts of his reign are reconstructed are European, and for this reason, propagate a Eurocentric bias. For example, while Eurocentric White historians are able to present, in print, three eyewitness accounts of the death of Piet Retief, the African point of view based on oral history is largely disregarded. This study seeks to redress this imbalance by championing the African point of view, which is considered to be not only sensible but also plausible and justifiable. Likewise, much attention has been given to the many studies that demonise King Dingane for the single act of viciously killing the purportedly innocent and innocuous Voortrekkers, while the broad contours of context against which his actions should be judged are disregarded. The purpose of this thesis is to debunk the myth of King Dingane's unfairness and criminality. It can therefore be interpreted as an effort at decriminalizing King Dingane's actions - a dimension that earlier as well as contemporary scholars of African history have hitherto ignored. It is hoped that in time similar studies on other issues will broaden this perspective and help to create the balance so sorely missing in Zulu history. A theoretical framework for historical representation is provided in chapter one of the study, while chapter two examines the mindset of the White explorers that arrived in Africa, and their imperial agenda that sought to control, drastically change and re-order everything. Chapter three attempts to portray the greatness of King Dingane in dealing with matters of governance as well as other issues that were to have a profound impact on the way in which he came to be portrayed in history books. Chapter four discusses the relationship between King Dingane and the British Settlers at Port Natal, while chapter five deals with the relationships between King Dingane and the Voortrekkers, who sought the very freedom from the British in the Cape Colony that they were prepared to destroy among Africans in the Zulu Kingdom. The final chapter deals with public history and perceptions about King Dingane in the 21^' century. The two museums that commemorate Impi yase Ncome/the Battle of 'Blood River' on 16 December are contrasted with each other and their potential for nation building is examined in a critical light. The central thesis of this study is that the historiography of the early years of the 19'^ century inevitably, and perhaps even deliberately, represented King Dingane as a tyrant with neither nationalistic proclivities nor stately qualities. The popularity of this historiographic perspective is arguably symptomatic of a hegemonic disciplinary praxis that seeks to privilege the principles of selection, preference and bias in the use of the vast archive of sources available to the historian, from the written to the oral source. To all intents and purposes, this principle, which interpolates the discourse of history as well as the producers and consumers of historical scholarship, has led to a limited, over-determined and totalizing view of King Dingane. It is this biased discourse that articulates with the dominant ideology that not only informed scholarship, but also reflected the ideology of the institutions responsible for shaping historiography. A full analysis of the circumstances surrounding King Dingane at the time, including the history, the culture, the political dynamics and the personalities of the actors, leads one to the inexorable conclusion that this thesis arrives at - namely that the king did what 'a king had to do.' It is furthermore concluded that the evidence leads one to believe that King Dingane should be seen as a forerunner of Black Nationalism, instead of being branded as a treacherous, bloodthirsty tyrant. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher University of Zululand en_US
dc.subject Dingaan, King of the Zulus, ca. 1793-1840. en_US
dc.subject Zulu (African people)--History. en_US
dc.title King Dingane : a treacherous tyrant or an African nationalist? en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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