1887

n Historia - Die . Werklikheid of mite?

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Abstract


Until quite recently the Mfecane was all but a forgotten factor in S.A. historiography. Textbooks for students and scholars dealt with it as a rather insignificant period of black history centering on the bloodthirsty Shaka. This article deals with the current debate on the Mfecane which has established this event as an important phase of our 19th century history.
The debate deals with the re-interpretation of the Mfecane. For decades the interpretation of Theal, strengthened by Bryant and perpetuated by later more professional historians such as Walker, Macmillan and Omer-Cooper, whose work was the first in-depth study of the event, formed the basis of our understanding of the Mfecane. To these historians Shaka and his bloody wars were the cause of the conflicts in Zululand which then spread out to large parts of Southern Africa. The Mfecane was a black revolution in which the whites did not participate at all.
In the 1980's Julian Cobbing dismissed this interpretation completely as a myth created by white settlers and traders for their own advantage and subsequently perpetuated by historians and politicians. Cobbing blames the European slave traders who co-operated with the missionaries and government officials for the conflicts in the interior. His hypothesis was, however, severely criticised for a lack of solid research to substantiate his claims. At the heart of this debate lies the problem of the role of ideology in the writing of history .

Die Mfecane was tot redelik onlangs 'n byna vergete faktor in die S.A.-geskiedskrywing. In handboeke vir geskiedenisstudente en -skoliere is dit meestal slegs as 'n klein stukkie swart geskiedenis met die bloeddorstige Shaka in die middelpunt behandel. Hierdie artikel handel oor die debat wat aan die gang is en as gevolg waarvan die Mfecane 'n sentrale deel van ons geskiedenis van die 19e eeu geword het.


Die debat gaan oor die hervertolking van die Mfecane. Vir dekades lank het die interpretasie van Theal, gesteun deur Bryant en voortgesit deur die meer professionele historici na hulle, o.a. Walker, Macmillan en later Omer-Cooper, wat die eerste volledige studie daarvan gemaak het, die basis van ons insigte oor die gebeure gevorm. Vir hulle was Shaka en sy bloedige oorloë die oorsaak van die konflikte in Zululand vanwaar dit uitgekring het na groot dele van Suider-Afrika. Die Mfecane was 'n swart rewolusie waarby die blankes geen aandeel gehad het nie.
In die 1980's het J. Cobbing die siening totaal verwerp as 'n mite wat deur blanke setlaars en handelaars geskep is tot hulle eie voordeel en dié valse beeld is deur historici en politici verder uitgebou. Cobbing plaas die blaam vir die konflikte in die binneland op die skouers van blanke slawehandelaars wat in samewerking met blanke sendelinge en amptenare die swart gemeenskappe ontwrig het. Sy hipotese het egter felle kritiek gekry omdat dit nie deur deeglike navorsing gesteun word nie. In wese gaan die debat oor die problematiek van ideologie en geskiedskrywing.

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/content/hist/39/1/EJC37818
1994-05-01
2016-12-05
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