oa Alternation - The writings of H.F. Fynn: history, myth or fiction?

Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



As early as the 1850s, material written by Fynn was being utilised by writers on the precolonial Natal past. J.C. Chase for example in his publication The Natal Papers incorporated a descriptionption obtained from Fynn on the 'devastation' of the Natal region by Shaka in the period prior to European arrival in the 18205. (Chase, 1843:20). With the publication of Bird's Annals of Natal in 1888, Fynn became widely accepted as an authoritative source on the Shakan period and he was viewed as having been in a unique position of access to that past in that he was an eye-witness to important events. (Bird, 1888:6; 60-101; Gibson, 1903:21-24). Since the publication of the Diary in 1950, Fynn's texts have been used by both popular and academic writers as crucial sources on the Natal-Zululand region and this trend has outlasted major shifts in the approaches of historians. (Bulpin, 1953; Ritter, 1955; Morris, 1966; Thompson, 1969; Du Buisson, 1987; Ballard, 1989). Even the most recent arguments concerning the nature and historiography of the concept of an mfecane have drawn on Fynn's Diary to illustrate various issues. (Cobbing, 1990:3-5; Eldredge, 1992:12; Hamilton. 1992:41).

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