Mpande and the Zulu Kingship.

Philip Kennedy


To all appearances, the career of Mpande was one of the great paradoxes of southern African history. On the one hand, he was the most enduring of the Zulu kings. He survived the Mfecane and the intrigues of his brother, Dingane. He successfully resisted the incessant attempts by Voortrekkers and the British to meddle in Zululand's internal affairs. He reigned longer than any Zulu king, before or since, and he was the first of his kind in pre-colonial times to die a natural death. On the other hand, the signs of weakness and vacillation seem unmistakable. Contemporaries said he survived the reigns of
Chaka and Dingane only because of his lethargy and indifference. He himself claimed he had been forced to become the Zulu king. Certainly, there were intimidations from chieftains within the Zulu kingdom, and there can be no doubt that he shared his kingly authority first with seven of his sons, then
with four and, following the death of Mbuyazi, with two, Cetshwayo in particular. According to Natal's Secretary for Native Affairs, Theophilus Shepstone, Cetshwayo was the "real ruler" of Zululand for the last eleven years of Mpande's life.

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