Original Articles

Qualities of King Shaka as portrayed in Zulu oral testimony and in izibongo

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 21, issue 2, 2001 , pages: 118–132
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2001.10586521
Author(s): T.T. Cele,


There are disparities in the way Shaka is portrayed in oral literature. These become evident in the way the king is depicted in the three distinct periods during which the oral history of Shaka was recorded: first by his contemporaries in izibongo; then by Cetshwayo's peers after the destruction of the old Zulu order in the late 19th century, as shown in James Stuart's interviews with some Zulu informants; and finally by Zulu people during the reconstruction of Zulu history as outlined in the interviews conducted by Zulu scholars in the 20th century.

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