n Acta Academica - Background

Supplement 2
  • ISSN : 0587-2405


Archaeological evidence indicates that, for many thousands of years, the hunter-gathering Bushmen and their ancestors inhabited "the whole of southern Africa from the Zambezi Valley to the Cape" (Lee & DeVore 1976: 5). There is no consensus over the period involved, but Mountain (2003: 18) puts it at 120 000 years or more. Until some two thousand years ago, the Bushmen and Khoikhoi were the only inhabitants of the subcontinent (Parkington 2007: 77), "until they were encroached on, first by the Hottentots, then by the Bantu, and lastly by the Europeans" (Werner 1925: 117). The area now known as KwaZulu-Natal was inhabited by the Bushmen for between ten thousand and thirty thousand years (Mazel 1989: 12), and the ancestors of the Nguni, migrating southwards in small groups or clans from the Great Lakes regions of Equatorial Africa, reached the region between fifteen hundred and two thousand years ago (Maggs 1989: 29, Mazel 1989: 13). In the sixteenth century, a Nguni chief, Nkosinkulu, also called Zulu, founded the Zulu royal line (Krige 1975: 595-6). "The Zulu chiefdom was but one of the many insignificant Nguni clans and only came into prominence under Shaka" (Louw 1979: 8). By the nineteenth century, the Zulu had become a power whose presence extended over half the continent of Africa (Krige 1975: 595-6).

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