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Debates in History Short Academic Review of a bookchapter the power of the image of Shaka lies not as most previous commentators have suggested in its openness to manipulation to invention and to imaginative reworkings Rather it is to be found in the historical limits and constraints attached to Shakan historiographyand to the possible depictions of Shaka In this essay I intend to discuss chapter 2 of Terrific Majesty by Carolyn Hamilton Throughout history Shaka has been portrayed in many different guises from a despot and villain to a hero and military genius This chapter covers various historical accounts of Shaka and how interpretations of him as a person differ according to the perception and the motivation of the author I shall be comparing the resources utilised in the book with those that I am already familiar with for example Fynn and Isaacs and with the evidence found in the Praise poems of the relevant period The first issue presented by the book is the information supplied by Henry Francis Fynn who in 1822 was among the first people to encounter and document Shaka and the Zulu tribe He and Francis Farewell travelled across land from the Cape to meet with Shaka in 1824 for trading purposes At this time Shaka was depicted as being open to the idea of a British settlement and showed no signs of hostility To the surprise of the trading party the Zulus were well ordered and courteous under Shakas ruler ship On reading an extract from Fynns diary it is clear that trade which had began with the Zulu nation under the tyranny of Dingiswayo continued at a more rapid pace during Shakas rule In the first year of his chieftainship he opened a trade with Delagoa Bay by sending 100 oxen and a quantity of elephants tusks to exchange for beads and blankets the trade thus opened by Dingiswayo was
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