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In the six years from October 1897 to October 1903, Ndukwana kaMbengwana engaged in scores of conversations in numerous different locations with magistrate James Stuart about the history and culture of the nineteenth-century Zulu kingdom.1 In the 1880s Ndukwana had been a lowranking official in the native administration of Zululand; at an unknown date before late 1900 he seems to have become Stuarts personal induna or headman, to give a common English translation. Stuarts handwritten notes of these conversations, as archived in the James Stuart Collection, come to a total of 65,000 to 70,000 words. As rendered in volume 4 of the James Stuart Archive, published in 1986, these notes fill 120 printed pages, far more than the testimonies of any other of Stuarts interlocutors except Socwatsha kaPhaphu.2 From 1900, Ndukwana was also present during many of Stuarts conversations with other individuals.
thanks go to my former research assistants, Skye Dillon, Steve Kotze, and Sinothi Thabethe, for tracking down archival sources on James Stuarts career, and to the Natal Society Foundation Trust for financial support. This paper represents a substantial reworking of earlier drafts given at two workshops organized by the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at the University of Cape Town. I would like to thank participants for constructive critical comment. 2The James Stuart Collection is housed in the Killie Campbell Africana Library and Museum, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. Ndukwanas published testimony appears in Colin Webb, and John Wright (eds.), The James Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples (henceforth

History in Africa 38 (2011), 343368

In the editors preface to volume 4 of the James Stuart Archive, after drawing attention to the length of Ndukwanas testimony, Colin Webb and I wrote as follows:
Since these were the early years of Stuarts collecting career, it is probable that Ndukwana exercised a considerable influence on the presuppositions about Zulu society and history which Stuart took with him into his interviews. No less likely, however, is the reverse possibility that Ndukwana in turn became a repository of much of the testimony he heard while working with Stuart, and that, increasingly over the years, the information which he supplied would have been a fusion of data and traditions from a variety of sources.3


John Wright

As I go on to discuss below, I would now be chary of seeing Ndukwana unproblematically as a supplier of information, and of seeing the testimonies which Stuart recorded from him as consisting mainly of traditions. But the point about the reciprocal influence on each other of Ndukwana and Stuart remains valid. If we want to understand more about the factors which shaped Stuarts thinking about Zulu history and custom in the earliest stages of his career as a recorder of oral history, and if we want to understand more about how African intellectuals in rurally based communities in Natal and Zululand in the early twentieth century expressed themselves on the past, the point needs to be explored in more detail. The importance of the Stuart Collection and of the volumes of the James Stuart Archive as a source of information on the history of what is now the KwaZulu-Natal region in the period from the mid-eighteenth to the early twentieth century has long been recognized.4 Stuarts career as a recorder of oral histories over the period from the late 1890s to the early 1920s has been outlined in a probing study by Carolyn Hamilton.5 From her researches we
JSA), volume 4 (Pietermaritzburg, 1986), 263-383. Socwatshas testimony, which will total about 150 pages, will appear in the forthcoming volume 6 of the JSA. (Volumes 1 to 5 of the JSA were published in 1976, 1979, 1982, 1986, and 2001 respectively.) 3JSA 4, xv. 4Carolyn Hamilton, Bernard Mbenga, and Robert Ross, The Production of Preindustrial South African History, in: Carolyn Hamilton, Bernard Mbenga, and Robert Ross (eds.), The Cambridge History of South Africa, Volume 1, from Early Times to 1885 (New York, 2010), 6. 5Carolyn Hamilton, Authoring Shaka: Models, Metaphors and Historiography, PhD thesis, Johns Hopkins University (1993), chapter 7 and chapter 8. A slightly abbreviated version appears in Carolyn Hamilton, Terrific Majesty: the Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Imagination (Cape Town, 1998), chapter 4.

get a clear idea of when and why he began to engage in this work, of what his particular interests in the African past were, and of the assumptions about African culture and history that shaped his work. What we need now are detailed studies of the successive phases of his career and also of his engagements with particular interlocutors in the changing contexts of the times in which he and they lived. This article seeks to examine, as far as the evidence allows, Ndukwanas own background as an informed commentator on the history of the Zulu kingdom, together with the nature of his engagements with Stuart during the six years they discussed matters historical. For information on Ndukwanas life we depend entirely on notes made by Stuart, partly of Ndukwanas answers to specific questions on the subject, and partly of passing references made by Ndukwana when speaking of other topics. To understand Ndukwana, then, we need to understand Stuart in an early stage of his recording career; to understand Stuart, we need to understand Ndukwana. Discussion of their respective careers as thinkers about the past in the period under discussion cannot be separated, hence the degree to which Stuart features in what is primarily a paper about Ndukwana. When Colin Webb and I wrote the passage cited above, like most scholars working with recorded oral histories at the time we saw them primarily as statements on the past that could serve as sources of information, if sometimes very rich ones and often the only available ones on their subject, for academic historians. We certainly had some conception that among the subjects they might shed light on was the intellectual history of precolonial societies, but we were attuned to seeing oral testimonies more as sources of facts than as specific intellectual productions in their own right. By the same token, we tended to see the individuals who gave the testimonies as informants, with greater or lesser degrees of factual knowledge of the past, rather than as thinkers and as shapers of that knowledge. Ideas of this kind, which are rooted in the work on oral traditions (i.e. oral histories passed on more or less formally from one generation to the next) done by Vansina and others since the 1950s, are still common among academic historians, but recently they have begun giving way to more critically informed perspectives. Thus oral histories in general, of which oral traditions are one kind of genre, are (like written histories, for that matter) coming to be examined not simply as factual statements, of varying degrees of truth, about the past but as ideas about the past themselves produced in specific historical contexts.6

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the discussion in Hamilton et al., The Production, 5-6.

And, as Hlonipha Mokoena has highlighted in a somewhat different context in her recently published study of the career of kholwa intellectual Magema Fuze, individuals often seen, especially by Western scholars, primarily as native informants need to be appreciated as producers of ideas (not just information) about the past within their own historically created social and cultural milieux.7 By no means all Stuarts interlocutors, whether black or white, can meaningfully be described as intellectuals, but like people everywhere, all of them inescapably framed their ideas about the past in terms of the intellectual currents flowing in the societies in which they lived. The term informant, as commonly used in discussion of oral histories (it was often used by Stuart himself), does not capture this perspective: it remains tied to the notion of oral histories primarily as transmitted bodies of knowledge. The word preferred in this article is interlocutor, one who takes an active part in shaping knowledge in a process of dialogue. By the same token, we need to think critically about the notion of the interview, a word commonly used to describe the situation in which a researcher elicits and records information from an informant or interviewee. It carries overtones of the formal transmission of knowledge from one to the other without the more informal interchanges of ideas and views which are implied in terms like discussion and even more so conversation. Some of Stuarts meetings with Ndukwana may have been interview-like: others, the majority, to judge by Stuarts notes, were certainly more by way of discussions of a succession of topics, with one thought leading to another in a less structured way than would have been the case in a more formal interview. In the period under examination here, Stuart himself often used the words discussion and conversation, and sometimes the word interview, to refer to his engagements with his interlocutors. In this article the first two terms are preferred.


John Wright

From Stuarts notes we can learn something about Ndukwanas early life, and about the histories of the communities that he lived in. Beyond the period of his boyhood, however, there is very little biographical information in


Mokoena, Magema Fuze: the Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (Pietermaritzburg, 2011), esp. 17-30. Until his death in 1922, Fuze was a leading writer and historian among the amakholwa in Natal.

the record besides a few passing mentions, and we have to rely largely on conjecture. He was born in the Zulu kingdom in about 1838, towards the end of Dinganes reign, in the Ceza area near the upper black Mfolozi river.8 His father, Mbengwana kaMatshotshwana kaNdaba, belonged to the abakwaMasondo section of the abakwaMthethwa people. His mother was Nomloya ka Maxalanga of people whom Ndukwana does not identify.9 Mbengwana, for his part, had been born and brought up in the Mthethwa country near the coast at a time when the Mthethwa were expanding their authority over neighbouring chiefdoms and becoming the dominant power south of the White Mfolozi.10 At this time the Zulu chiefdom, under Senzangakhona kaJama, was a small polity in the western borderlands of the Mthethwa sphere of influence. Some time before the beginning of Shakas reign (c.1815), a group of Mthethwa which included Mbengwana moved from the coastlands to settle in the Ceza area.11 Ndukwana does not explain why this move took place, but fairly certainly it was part of a colonizing move undertaken by the Mthethwa king, Dingiswayo kaJobe, to strengthen his hold over the inland regions of his kingdom at a time when he was increasingly coming into conflict with the expanding Ndwandwe kingdom, under Zwide kaLanga, to the north. Soon afterwards, Dingiswayo was killed in war with the Ndwandwe, and his kingdom fell apart. A short while later the rising Zulu power under Shaka succeeded in driving away the Ndwandwe.12 At this point the group of Mthethwa which had moved to the Ceza area gave its allegiance to Shaka. The Zulu king permitted its members to remain in their homesteads, and their leader, Mkhosi kaMgudlana, was allowed to rule with a certain degree of autonomy, as was the case in other chiefdoms which occupied
8On his age see JSA, volume 4, 285, 340, 373. Unless otherwise indicated, references citing the JSA are to statements made by Ndukwana. 9JSA, volume 4, 285, 326. 10On the history of the Mthethwa kingdom in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, see Carolyn Hamilton, Identity, Oral Traditions and the Struggle for Power in the Early Zulu Kingdom, MA thesis, University of the Witwatersrand (1985), chapter 2; John Wright, The Dynamics of Power and Conflict in the Thukela-Mzimkhulu Region in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries: a Critical Reconstruction, PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand (1989), chapter 4. 11JSA, volume 4, 277, 326, 360. 12Hamilton, Identity, 136-38; Wright, Dynamics, 180-87; John Wright, Rediscovering the Ndwandwe Kingdom, in: Natalie Swanepoel, Amanda Esterhuysen, and Philip Bonner (eds.), Five Hundred Years Rediscovered: Southern African Precedents and Prospects (Johannesburg, 2008), 228-31.

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strategic positions on the borders of Shakas kingdom. Mbengwana, Ndukwana tells us, was one of Mkhosis senior men. As one of his moves to strengthen his hold on the upper Black Mfolozi region, Shaka established the ikhanda of iMpangiso (loc. eMpangisweni) in the area, and placed it under the control of Nquhele, one of Mkhosis brothers.13 (An ikhanda was an establishment occupied by one or other of the kings amabutho, or ageregiments.) Overall authority in the region seems to have been exercised by the induna of the uMbelebele ikhanda, which was located nearby.14 The people of iMpangiso were regarded as personal adherents of Shaka, who had encouraged them to remain in occupation of the place where Dingiswayo had settled them. After the assassination of Shaka in 1828, his rival and successor Dingane would certainly have kept a close watch on them for any signs of disaffection. Towards the end of his reign probably during the times of uncertainty which followed the outbreak of war between the Zulu and intruding Boers in early 1838 Dingane ordered the leading figures at iMpangiso to be put to death. Mbengwana was one of those executed. His wives and children scattered. For her part, Nomloya took her children, including the infant Ndukwana, to join her full brother, Gijimi kaMaxalanga. In turn the latter made off to take refuge with Mmama kaJama, a sister of Shakas father Senzangakhona and a politically powerful figure in the kingdom, who lived near Nhlazatshe, twenty-five kilometres to the south. Soon afterwards, in 1840, Mpande overthrew Dingane with the assistance of the Boers and succeeded him as king. In the period that followed, Gijimi emerged as head of a cluster of refugees from the community which had originally lived at iMpangiso.15 Ndukwana grew up at Nhlazatshe among Gijimis adherents. When he was about twelve or thirteen years old (i.e. in about 1850), Mpande reassembled the sons of the Mthethwa izinduna, Mkhosi and Nquhele, and resettled them and their people in their former territory at iMpangiso. Like Shaka before him, Mpande was presumably seeking to strengthen his authority in his kingdoms vulnerable and unstable western borderlands, from which he had recently driven the large Hlubi chiefdom, by reviving iMpangiso as a settlement of people personally loyal to him.16 According to
13JSA, volume 4, 277, 278, 285, 326, 360, 327. 14JSA, volume 4, 277, 327, 360. 15JSA, volume 4, 278, 327, 328. 16John Wright, and Andrew Manson, The Hlubi


John Wright

(Ladysmith, 1983), 32-36.

People in Zululand and Natal: a History

Ndukwana, the king wanted to place iMpangiso under Mthethwa leaders again, but backed down in the face of objections from Mnyamana kaNgqengelele, chief of the abakwaButhelezi, and one of the most powerful figures in the north-western regions of the Zulu kingdom, who claimed that they were mere boys. In the event, Mpande appointed Majiya kaGininda of the abakwaNtombela people, who were closely related to the Zulu royal house, as induna of iMpangiso, and told him to regard the sons of Mkhosi and Nquhele as his younger brothers.17 Gijimi and his adherents were among the people who returned to settle in the iMpangiso area. As one of his mat-bearers, the young Ndukwana travelled with him to eMlambongwenya, one of Mpandes imizi. He later became mat-bearer to Magujwa kaNquhele, and accompanied him to several of the kings other imizi.18 In his mid-teens, with other boys of his agegrade from iMpangiso, Ndukwana went off to kleza (literally, drink milk straight from the udder) at the major ikhanda in the iMpangiso region, uMbelebele. This ukukleza, which could last for a year or two, constituted a kind of apprenticeship, often undertaken voluntarily, before compulsory incorporation into a new ibutho; it involved doing work like herding cattle, carrying mats, fetching firewood, and washing milk buckets. In due course (we are now in the mid-1850s) the boys from iMpangiso, known collectively as uMhlohlalanga, were called up to the kings principal umuzi, kwaNodwengu, at the time of the umkhosi or first-fruits ceremonies. Together with groups of similar age which had klezad at amakhanda in other parts of the kingdom, they were formed into the uDloko ibutho, and sent off to the kwaGqikazi ikhanda.19 The chief induna of the uDloko was Ndumundumu or Ndungundungu kaNokhokhela Zulu.20 The great induna at kwaGqikazi was Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khoza, who in 1879 was one of the commanders of the Zulu army in its victory over the British at Isandlwana.21 From this point until he surfaces as one of Stuarts interlocutors more than forty years later, we know very little about Ndukwanas life: the outlines of it have to be conjectured from passing references in Stuarts notes. Why Stuart recorded only Ndukwanas youth in any detail is difficult to fathom: possibly it is because his later life had become better known to Stu17JSA, volume 4, 328. 18JSA, volume 4, 328, 19JSA, volume 4, 335, 20Statement of Baleni

Ndukwana kaMbengwana


JSA, volume 2, 242. 21JSA, volume 4, 336.

329. 336, 337. kaSilwana, JSA, volume 1, 24-25; statement of Maxibana kaZeni,

art during the years of their acquaintance after 1888 (see below). Very soon after Ndukwana was incorporated into the uDloko, a fierce contestation between two of Mpandes senior sons, Cetshwayo and Mbuyazi, over the succession to the Zulu kingship came to a head. In a major battle fought on the north bank of the Thukela river near its mouth in December 1856, Cetshwayos forces routed those of Mbuyazi. Ndukwana states baldly that the uDloko fought in the battle; we have to turn to others of Stuarts informants to learn that its members fought on both sides.22 Ndukwana states that he and seven others fled across the Thukela to the Natal side, followed the river up its course, crossed back into the Zulu kingdom, and went back to iMpangiso.23 From this we infer that he was on Mbuyazis side, though whether he actually took part in the fighting is not clear. He also tells us that several of the sons of Mkhosi and Nquhele, leading men at iMpangiso, were killed in the battle.24 As Mpandes people they very probably fought on the side of Mbuyazi, who, as is well known, was favoured by the king. In the years that followed, Ndukwana seems to have been well placed to observe public affairs in the Zulu kingdom at close quarters. He speaks of making numerous visits to the isigodlo, or royal enclosure, at kwaGqikazi.25 He speaks of being sent with a message to Cetshwayo.26 He speaks of being present on particular occasions at kwaNodwengu, the kings capital.27 He speaks of being present at hearings involving men of high standing.28 It is possible that he was an inceku, or personal attendant, to Mpande, though a statement that he made years later to Stuart, to the effect that the kings izinceku had a greater knowledge of intimate court affairs than he did, suggests that this was not so.29 Was he perhaps an isilomo, one who frequently attended court without holding an official position? Or was he simply a messenger sent to court from time to time by his seniors at iMpangiso? There are unfortunately no further clues in the record.


John Wright


JSA, volume 4, 273; Maxibana, JSA, volume 2, 242-43; Mayinga kaMbhekuzana, JSA, volume 2, 246; Mvayisa kaTshingili, JSA, volume 4, 165; Nkukhu kaCangasa, JSA, volume 5, 135. 23JSA, volume 4, 380. 24JSA, volume 4, 329. 25JSA, volume 4, 347. 26JSA, volume 4, 362. 27JSA, volume 4, 295, 303-04. 28JSA, volume 4, 319, 354-55. 29JSA, volume 4, 280.

In 1876 Cetshwayo gave permission to the men of the uDloko to put on the headring.30 This meant that they could now marry, but of Ndukwanas family life then and later we know nothing. When British forces invaded the Zulu kingdom in January 1879, Ndukwana, then aged about forty, was with the amabutho which visited the graves of the ancestral Zulu kings to be strengthened for war.31 Labands and Thompsons researches into the military history of the ensuing war indicate that the uDloko fought in the battles at Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift in January and at Cetshwayos capital, oNdini, in July, but there is nothing in Stuarts notes that tells us whether or not Ndukwana was involved in any of the fighting.32 When next we hear of Ndukwana he had begun a completely new phase of his life, now in the service of the British colonial power in Zululand. After their victory over the Zulu in 1879, the British had exiled Cetshwayo and divided his kingdom into thirteen autonomous chiefdoms under appointed chiefs. The post of British Resident, which carried no executive powers, was created to oversee imperial interests in the region. From March 1880 the office was held by Melmoth Osborn.33 By at least mid-1881 Ndukwana seems to have been on his staff, in exactly what capacity is not clear.34 After the war, the iMpangiso people had fallen under the authority of Hamu kaNzibe, a half-brother of Mpande who had been a bitter rival of the latter and continued to be deeply hostile to his successor, Cetshwayo. He had been the only senior chief to defect to the British during the war, and had no love for supporters of the house of Mpande and Cetshwayo like the people of iMpangiso. By 1881 he was putting pressure on them and others of the uSuthu, as Cetshwayos supporters were coming to be called, to leave his district.35 It was in these circumstances that Ndukwana seems to have decided to seek service with Osborn. It is probably no co-incidence that the latters headquarters were at Nhlazatshe, not far from iMpangiso where Ndukwanas people lived.36
30JSA, volume 4, 273. 31JSA, volume 4, 291. 32J.P.C. Laband, and

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P.S. Thompson, Field Guide to the War in Zululand and the Defence of Natal 1879 (Pietermaritzburg, 1983), 57, 59; John Laband, Rope of Sand: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Kingdom in the Nineteenth Century (Johannesburg, 1995), 218, 231, 314, 361. 33Jeff Guy, The Destruction of the Zulu Kingdom (London, 1980), 82. 34JSA, volume 4, 355-56. 35Guy, Destruction, 74, 84, 85-87, 115. 36Guy, Destruction, 101; Laband, Rope of Sand, 348.

Ndukwana was still in Osborns service in the late 1880s.37 We have no idea of what roles he played in this capacity during the troubled history of Zululand in the intervening years. Violent conflicts had taken place in 18821884 between the uSuthu and the rival uMandlakazi, who were actively supported by British officials, including Osborn. The British had repartioned the former Zulu kingdom and restored Cetshwayo to authority over a section of it in 1883. At the same time Osborn was established as Resident Commissioner in the autonomous southern Reserve section, with his headquarters at Eshowe. Cetshwayo had died in 1884, and had been succeeded as head of the uSuthu party by his son Dinuzulu. Soon afterwards the uSuthu were helped to defeat their uMandlakazi rivals by Boers from the Transvaal, who then proceeded to carve out the independent New Republic from much of the old Zulu kingdom. In 1887 the British had finally annexed the rump of the kingdom as a separate colony in an attempt to restore order to the region. Osborn became the senior official in the colony, with the title of Resident Commissioner and Chief Magistrate.38 Ndukwana seems to have remained on his staff, and we can surmise that it was in this capacity that, in 1888, he crossed paths for the first time with James Stuart.


John Wright

To turn now to Stuarts parallel career.39 He was born in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the colony of Natal, in 1868, as the son of a colonial magistrate. He grew up in the villages of Greytown and Ixopo, and at an early age learnt to speak isiZulu. After the death of his father in the Anglo-Transvaal war of 1880-1881, his mother sent him to senior school in England. In 1888 he was appointed clerk and interpreter to the magistrate in Eshowe, the main administrative centre of the newly annexed colony of Zululand, where Melmoth Osborn was the senior official. Over the next decade he rose through
see Guy, Destruction; Jeff Guy, The View across the River: Harriette Colenso and the Zulu Struggle against Imperialism (Charlottesville / Oxford / Cape Town, 2001); Laband, Rope of Sand, chapters 27-34. 39For biographical information on Stuart, see Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, chapter 4; John Wright, The making of the James Stuart Archive, History in Africa 23 (1996), 333-50; John Wright, entry in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edition, 2006; John Wright, entry in Oxford Dictionary of African Biography (forthcoming). An older sketch by B.J. Leverton appears in the Dictionary of South African Biography, volume 3 (Pretoria, 1977).
37JSA, volume 4, 289, 292. 38On Zululand in the 1880s


the ranks of the native affairs administration in Zululand, becoming magistrate in the newly annexed district of Ingwavuma in the far north of the colony in 1895, and spending two brief spells as Acting British Consul in Swaziland. In 1899-1901 he held short appointments as acting magistrate in a number of centres in NatalPietermaritzburg, Umzinto, Stanger, Durban, Impendhle, Howick, and Ladysmith. In March 1901 he began a new phase of his career when he was appointed assistant magistrate in Durban, the colonys biggest town. Stuart had no doubt had a good bookish education at Hurstpierpoint, the public school which he had attended in Sussex. This may in some measure help account for the interest in the written word that he showed early in his career. He combined this with a growing interest, unusual among Natal colonists, in the language and customs of the African people among whom he lived, and whom, from 1888, he helped govern. He kept diaries from 1887 to 1889; he took down four pages of Melmoth Osborns praises as given by Socwatsha kaPaphu, a member of the Resident Commissioners staff, in February 1889;40 he recorded a genealogy of Biyela chiefs from Mabele kaMagidi in January 1894.41 Though he shared many of the racial prejudices of his fellow colonists, by the mid-1890s he seems to have been developing a questioning attitude towards aspects of native policy in Zululand and Natal. By the late 1890s his interests were beginning to firm up into the beginnings of a serious research project. In January 1897 Stuart recorded a list of Mpandes amabutho from Socwatsha at Ngwavuma. Then in October and November of that year, in the same locality, he turned to Ndukwana as a source of information and made his first written notes, all of them relatively brief, of conversations with the latter on Zulu history and customs.42 Soon afterwards he made notes of discussions with seven or eight other individuals on history and customs in Swaziland and Tongaland.43 Clearly he was developing a new focus of interest at this time. This is confirmed in a letter which Stuart wrote to his mother from Ladysmith in Natal in December 1900, in which he indicates that he had been engaged in closely reading and enquiring into African affairs for nearly four years.44 During his second stint in Swaziland in 189840James Stuart Collection, Stuarts diary for 1889, 41JSA, volume 2, 1-3. 42JSA, volume 4, 263-67. 43See the records in the JSA under Mahungane

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entry for 9 February. and Nkomuza, Mkakwa, Mqayikana,

Mtshelekwana, Mtshodo, Ndaba, and Sibindi. 44Cited in Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 136-37.

1899 he recorded information on the history of the royal house and on local customs from a dozen or so individuals,45 and in 1899-1900, in the very different political and social environment of Natal, made brief notes relating mainly to public affairs in the colony as discussed with another fifteen people.46 In the last months of 1900 he held intensive discussions with Ndukwana and also with a small group of amakholwa notables in Ladysmith. Soon afterwards, he took up his appointment as assistant magistrate in Durban, but, presumably owing to pressure of work in a new post, was unable to resume active research until the end of 1901. From the middle of 1902, and onward into phases of his career which do not concern us here, he was able to engage in more systematic discussion and reading, and now also writing and lecturing, on history and custom in Natal and Zululand.47 A comprehensive study of Stuarts early historical and ethnographic researches would place them in the context of contemporary developments in imperial and colonial thinking about the native peoples of southern Africa, past and present. The period from the 1890s to the 1920s was the heyday of amateur investigation in this field, as conducted primarily by missionaries and administrators.48 Stuarts work needs to be set alongside that of figures like Theal, Junod, Ellenberger, Bryant and others if its full significance is to be grasped. The focus here is on understanding the specific interests that were driving his research project in its earliest stages, the stages during which he held his conversations with Ndukwana. Carolyn Hamiltons researches into Stuarts recording career centre on an in-depth study of the development of his commitment to this project.49 Her work indicates, in brief, that he was driven primarily by his growing conviction that Africans in the colony were being misgoverned, and that the main solution to this misgovernment lay in educating the colonial government and the white public more generally into an understanding of how African law and custom had operated in the traditional tribal system. This
the records in the JSA under Falaza, Gama, Gedle, Giba and Mnkonkoni, Kunene, Mabola, Mgoqo, Mnkonkoni and Giba, and (forthcoming) Thring, Tikuba, and Zulu. 46See the records in the JSA under Antel, Gedle, Ginga, Makewu, Mdepha, Mhlanimpofu, Ngabiyana, Ngangezwe, Mini, Qalizwe, and Rangu (Hangu), and (forthcoming) Sijewana, Teteleku, Tritton, and Tshonkweni (Shonkweni). 47Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 144-50. 48Saul Dubow, Illicit Union: Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Johannesburg, 1995), chapter 1, chapter 3; Patrick Harries, Butterflies and Barbarians: Swiss Missionaries and Systems of Knowledge in South-East Africa (Oxford/Harare/Johannesburg/ Athens OH, 2007), chapter 8. 49Hamilton, Authoring Shaka, 363ff.; Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 130-56.


John Wright

system, in his view, had been successfully used in the time of Theophilus Shepstone, successively Diplomatic Agent to the Native Tribes and Secretary for Native Affairs in Natal from 1845 to 1876, to administer African affairs in the colony, but in recent years had been breaking down. Stuart saw the white settler governments which had ruled the colony since the granting of Responsible Government in 1893 as increasingly indifferent and even actively hostile to the interests of the African population, and as largely out of touch with African opinion. The laws that they passed were often incomprehensible to Africans, and were implemented by mostly unsympathetic officials and police who could not speak isiZulu and knew little or nothing of African laws and customs. The powers of the chiefs, who formed the lynchpin of tribal institutions of government, were steadily being undermined, with consequent erosion of the authority of homestead heads over their families and of the whole social fabric of tribal society. What was needed, in Stuarts view, was a revival of the centralized system of government which had been established in the Zulu kingdom by Shaka, which had operated under his successors, and which, with some modifications had been implemented in colonial Natal by Shepstone. This would be successful only if colonial opinion-makers had a clear and informed notion of how tribal government had operated in the past and of how it was failing in the present. This in turn would come about only through detailed and ongoing research into current African affairs and into African history on the part of a thoroughly qualified and officially recognized official. This, in brief, was what by late 1900 Stuart was calling his Idea, with, it seems, himself as the proposed intermediary.50 Stuarts position was an ambiguous one. At one level, his view of the tribal system was essentially that of a colonial administrator, one unusually sympathetic to the opinions of Africans, but concerned primarily with the maintenance of settler domination and of the white civilization which European colonialism was supposed to serve. At another level, he was informed enough about African opinion to see that in the hands of colonial administrators the system as it operated in Natal was becoming oppressive and urgently needed reforming if challenges to white civilization were to be avoided. The relevant point here is that, whatever their precise roots, his concerns were strong enough to generate the intellectual energies that informed the research project whose emergence we are here concerned with.

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was calling this proposal his Idea by at least December 1900: see the extract from the letter which Stuart wrote to his mother in that month cited in Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 136-37.

In the early years of his career Stuarts prime concerns with researching the African past were to develop an informed understanding of how government had functioned and social order been maintained in precolonial tribal societies in Zululand and Natal. By grasping this, we can better understand why, from the start, he came back over and over again in his questioning of his interlocutors to the same range of themes: how kings and chiefs had come to power and how they had ruled, stories of war and conquest, succession issues, how the amabutho system had functioned, the exploits of individual warriors, life in the kings amakhanda, the roles of izinduna, the importance of cattle, marriage arrangements, ukulobola, control over women, control over young people, religious beliefs, the roles played by diviners, the social and political roles played by taboos. There was comparatively little on economic life, on life in homesteads, on cultural and intellectual life. His main focus was on the Zulu state, but from the start he was concerned to learn what he could about the histories of its predecessor states and of the more important subordinate chiefdoms within the Zulu kingdom. Much of the information he recorded at this stage was by way of anecdotes and answers to specific questions: there were few passages of sustained narrative as compared with the records he made in later stages of his career, when his main objectives had shifted.51


John Wright

As indicated above, Ndukwanas first encounter with Stuart probably took place in Eshowe after the latters appointment to the Zululand administration in 1888. However, the first mention of Ndukwana in Stuarts notes is dated a good nine years afterwards, when, in Ingwavuma, the first of their recorded conversations took place. The next such conversation took place in Impendhle and Howick in mid-1900,52 but it was not until the last few
later phases still need to be delineated and explored in detail. For examples of extended narratives that Stuart recorded, see the testimonies given by Hayiyana kaNdikila (JSA, volume 1, 161-65) and Nsuze kaMfelafuthi (JSA, volume 5, 151-80) in the period 1908-1912 when Stuart was working on his History of the Zulu Rebellion (published in 1913), and those given by Lugubhu kaMangaliso (JSA, volume 1, 284-90), Mandlakazi kaNgini (JSA, volume 2, 177-94), Ndlovu kaThimuni (JSA, volume 4, 218-30), and Mshayankomo kaMagolwana (JSA, volume 5, 106-48) in the late 1910s and early 1920s, when Stuart was recording stories for inclusion in the Zulu readers which he published in the mid-1920s. 52JSA, volume 4, 267-69.


months of 1900, when Stuart was assistant magistrate at Ladysmith, that Ndukwana began to feature in his notes as a frequent interlocutor. In what capacity Ndukwana stood in relation to Stuart in these years is not known with any certainty, but a passing comment made by another of Stuarts interlocutors in December 1900 suggests that by this time he may have been in Stuarts personal service. This was a statement to the effect that I [Stuart] have an induna, viz. Ndukwana, whom I take about with me from place to place.53 The roles played by izinduna, or headmen, in Natal colonial society have not been a subject of academic research, and it is not clear exactly what the commentator meant. At this time magistracies in Natal had izinduna attached to them to serve as intermediaries for the magistrates in their dealings with Africans under their jurisdiction, but they were attached to specific courts rather than to particular magistrates, and it is unlikely that Ndukwana was serving Stuart in an official capacity.54 More likely is that he had for some time been in Stuarts personal employment. This is also indicated by the fact that Ndukwana was available for Stuart to turn to for historical conversations during the Christmas-New Year holiday period in 1900 and again in 1901,55 and is more or less confirmed by Stuarts note, made in November 1902, when he was living in Durban, that because he (Stuart) was moving house, Ndukwana was obliged to remain at home.56 The term induna in this context suggests that Ndukwana served as a head retainer, with authority over servants employed at this time by Stuart in his own and his mothers households. Some of these individuals were numbered among Stuarts other interlocutors and informants, in particular Dlozi kaLanga, his wife Nombango, his son Qalizwe, and Nhlamba. At what point Ndukwana had left the Zululand native affairs administration and at what point he had entered Stuarts service are facets of his life which are unrecorded. But the salient point is that he seems to have stood in a degree of intimacy with Stuart which, even if it was the intimacy of master and servant, placed him in a situation which was different from that of the great majority of the other interlocutors with whom Stuart worked at this stage of his recording career. To understand Ndukwanas testimony in depth, and to hear his own voice with any clarity, it would be necessary to read Stuarts record of it

Ndukwana kaMbengwana


volume1, 246, statement of Solomon Mabaso, 30 December 1900, in record of conversations with John Kumalo and others. 54My thanks to John Lambert for discussion on this point. 55JSA, volume 4, 344-48. 56JSA, volume 4, 198, under Ndlovu kaThimuni.

with a close knowledge of the testimonies of the other individuals with whom Stuart had important discussions in these years, especially in 1902 and 1903: Socwatsha, Mkhando kaDlova, Ndlovu kaThimuni, Mhuyi kaThimuni, Jantshi kaNongila, and Thununu kaNonjiya. All came from different backgrounds; all had different things to say about history and custom; all provided testimonies that fed into Stuarts specific research interests in different ways. We would need too, a finer understanding than we have at present of the range of factors that shaped the nature of the written records of his conversations that Stuart produced. Engaging in detailed textual examination is beyond the scope of this article: what it aims to do in these closing pages is to outline the main themes in Ndukwanas testimony, and briefly to discuss their provenance. In Stuarts first interviews with Ndukwana in Ngwavuma in 1897 we find the two of them discussing Shakas personality and the nature of his rule, the regimental system under the Zulu kings, and the exercise of control over young men, young women, and wives.57 In his discussions with other informants in Ngwavuma, Stuart enquired into this latter theme as well as the history of the Mabhudu royal house and the extent of external trade and migrant labour in Tongaland, issues which for Stuart represented markers of the spread of civilization.58 A year later, this time in Swaziland, he returned to similar issues: marriage, polygyny, ukulobola, conduct of women, circumcision, and local political history, with the origins, line of kings, succession disputes, methods of government, imizi, amabutho, and wars of the Swazi royal house featuring prominently. For the first time he enquired in some detail into matters pertaining to religion, witchcraft, ancestral spirits, rainmaking, and the work of diviners. The impact of white rule on Swazi custom also drew his attention.59 After Stuarts return to Natal early in 1899, the brevity of his successive magisterial appointments made it difficult for him to develop close contacts with potential discussants. On the other hand, his frequent moves enabled him to develop a knowledge of local affairs that he might otherwise not have been able to do,60 and it was on local affairs that he tended to focus such discussions as he was able to hold.
57JSA, volume 4, 263-67. 58See the references in note 43 above. 59See the references in note 45 above. 60Stuart makes a similar point himself:


John Wright

see his reply to a question from Solomon Mabaso as to why he took so deep an interest in native affairs, JSA, volume 1, 249, notes dated 30 December 1900.

It was not until Stuart was posted to Ladysmith in August or September 1900 that he was able to resume recording in depth. He turned first to Ndukwana, with whom he held discussions on no fewer than forty-five days in the period from the middle of September to the end of December.61 This was the most intensive conversing and recording that he had yet done. In greater detail than before, he focussed again on what he saw as the central institutions and customs in the governing and the maintaining of political and social cohesion in the Zulu kingdom. In the sphere of governance, he tapped into Ndukwanas knowledge of the sisa-ing (or loaning-out) of cattle by the Zulu kings, the umkhosi festival, the royal inkatha (an emblematic grass coil), the settlement of disputes in the kings courts, the influence of the izikhulu or great men of the kingdom, ukukhonza, or the giving of allegiance, and the shifts of identity that it might entail, and the nature of rights in land. Questions of control of women, and of relations between men and women again came up frequently: the formation of womens amabutho, the regulation of marriage, ukuhlobonga (sexual relations between young men and women), the ukuphukula rites carried out by young, unmarried women to ensure the fertility of the fields, prohibitions and taboos involving women. Other topics discussed were the roles of diviners, ceremonies at the kings graves, rainmaking, the rituals surrounding death and burial, and observances connected with the ancestral spirits. Much of this was to do with custom and the workings of institutions, sometimes accompanied by anecdotes, in the times of Mpande and Cetshwayo. Ndukwana had much less to say on the times of Shaka and Dingane. He was not an intimate of the Zulu royal house and was clearly not an expert in the history of the Zulu in olden times. And, as he admitted himself, he knew little about the history of the main or coastal section of the Mthethwa people under Dingiswayo, for he had grown up among the Masondo people, who, though an offshoot of the Mthethwa, lived a long way inland and quite separately from the main house.62 Notably, as compared with certain others of Stuarts informants, Ndukwana seems not to have been a great declaimer of praises, whether of important political figures in the kingdom or of his own forebears. All this is not to say, though, that he did not have a sharp sense of history, for at a number of points Stuart recorded comments that he made, probably on his own initiative rather than
61JSA, volume 4, 269-345. 62See Ndukwanas own comment

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implying his lack of knowledge of the history of the Mthethwa main house: JSA, volume 4, 285.

in answer to questions, about changes over time that had taken place in certain customs and practices in the Zulu kingdom: the ukusisa practices of the kings, the forming of womens amabutho, the location of specific subject peoples, the practice of ukukhonza, the occupation of land.63 Stuart described Ndukwana at this time as my chief informant, and as one of the most perceptive commentators on native affairs that he had encountered.64 It should be said here and it is a point which needs much broader discussion than can be given in this article that he would not have been able to provide the detailed, insightful answers to Stuarts questions that he did unless he had had a prior interest of his own in the same kinds of issue that concerned Stuart: governance and the maintenance of social order in African society. Here the interests of the young European colonial administrator and of the subjected African male elder overlapped. Both wanted to see the tribal system in Natal maintained.65 We should bear in mind the point that social order and tribal system may not necessarily have meant the same thing to African rulers and to colonial administrators.66 We also need to consider that in many ways Ndukwana may already have been primed for Stuarts line of questioning by his years in the service of Osborn and later of Stuart himself. Early on in his career in the colonial service he would have learnt what kinds of issue, past and present, administrators and magistrates were primarily concerned with. He would have mulled them over and very probably conversed about them with other African officials, before eventually coming to the point of being, if not necessarily a widely recognized authority on these issues, then certainly an individual who, in the eyes of a colonial official like Stuart, could make informed comment on them. As background to the unfolding of Ndukwanas conversations with Stuart, we should note the salient features of Natals political and social history in these years. The conferring of Responsible Government to the colony in 1893, with an electorate consisting overwhelmingly of salaried and property-owning white males, had been followed by measures to bring chiefs more firmly under official control, and to tighten up the authority of government
63JSA, volume 4, 269-70, 271-74, 285, 298, 299, 312, 315. 64JSA, volume 1, 265; JSA, volume 4, 326. 65For Ndukwanas opinions on the tribal system see JSA, volume


John Wright

1, 229, 232, 238, 246, under John Kumalo. 66On this point, see Igor Kopytoff, Introduction, in: Igor Kopytoff (ed.), The African Frontier: the Reproduction of Traditional African Societies (Bloomington/Indianapolis, 1989), 20-21.

and of white employers over African farm tenants and labourers in the towns. The annexation of Zululand to Natal at the end of 1897 in effect brought that territory under the domination of Natals white settler population. In the African reserves of both regions, the economic autonomy of homesteads was eroding rapidly as the land became overcrowded. Chiefs and homestead heads found that their authority over their adherents and families was weakening as numbers of people shifted off to the towns to find waged employment. For their part, the small but politically vociferous class of westernized and Christianized Africans, the amakholwa, was becoming increasingly frustrated with the discrimination it faced at the hands of the settler government. In 1900, numbers of kholwa men came together at a meeting in Pietermaritzburg to form a new protest organization, the Natal Native Congress. At another level, the increasing intrusion of British imperial interests into the affairs of southern Africa led to the outbreak of war in 1899 between Britain and the two Boer republics of the interior. For a while in 1899-1900, northern Natal was a major theatre of war.67 To appreciate Stuarts concern with the particular issues on which he pressed Ndukwana, we need to note that from the middle of October 1900 to the beginning of January 1901, interleaved with their conversations, he was also having intensive discussions with a small group of kholwa notables from the Ladysmith district, led by John Kumalo.68 Virtually from the start, Stuart invited Ndukwana to be present. His main concern seems to have been to find out what their main grievances with official native policy or lack of it were. In sum, these had to do mainly with the increasingly oppressive conditions under which Africans lived on white-owned farms, the weakening of the authority of homestead heads over their wives and children, and the growing feeling that white people had no interest in ruling Africans justly. Beyond these issues, Stuart also led the group into discussions of the tribal system, the conduct of women, Christianity and civilization, and the failure of Africans to achieve as much as Europeans had. Of the reactions of Ndukwana, Kumalo and the others to these discussions we know nothing except the comments from their side that Stuart recorded: these were generally, though not always, positive.

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Odendaal, Vukani Bantu! The Beginnings of Black Protest Politics in South Africa to 1912 (Cape Town, 1984), 16-19; John Lambert, Betrayed Trust: Africans and the State in Colonial Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1995), chapter 8, chapter 9; John Lambert, and Robert Morrell, Domination and Subordination in Natal, 1890-1920, in: Robert Morrell (ed.), Political Economy and Identities in KwaZulu-Natal: Historical and Social Perspectives (Durban, 1996), chapter 3. 68JSA, volume 1, 215-66, John Kumalo.

Hamilton has discussed Stuarts talks with Kumalo and his associates and with Ndukwana what she calls the Ladysmith conversations and their impact on Stuarts thinking in some detail. In her view they were central in shaping his conceptions of native policy and in giving form to his Idea, which, as we have seen, he was beginning consciously to articulate at just this time.69 It is not possible to establish from his notes what their impact on Ndukwana might have been. As Stuart has it, he sat in on the conversations with the kholwa elders mainly as a listener, but at a number of points proved well capable of intervening to defend the tribal system as having its own aspects of civilization (ukukhanya, or enlightenment, in the discussions). On several occasions, after the others had departed, Stuart in fact turned to him for commentary on their remarks. Stuarts conversations in Ladysmith with Ndukwana and with the kholwa leaders came to an end in January 1901 with the expectation that they would continue soon afterwards. In the event this did not happen, as in March 1901 Stuart left Ladysmith to take up the post of assistant magistrate in Durban. With him, in all likelihood, went Ndukwana. Apart from brief spells in Durban and Pietermaritzburg in 1899, this was Stuarts first experience as a magistrate outside small rural villages and, as far as we know, also Ndukwanas first extended experience of town life. Since the opening of the railway to the Witwatersrand in 1895, Durban had been growing rapidly as a seaport and commercial centre. It grew faster still after the outbreak of war between Britain and its colonies on the one side and the South African Republic and Orange Free State on the other in 1899.70 The population increased from about 39,000 in 1899 to 67,000 in 1904, including, in this latter year, some 19,000 Natives in service.71 In their new abode, both Stuart and Ndukwana could see the tribal system eroding before their eyes. Something of Stuarts response was expressed in official reports in which he graphically expressed his concerns about what he saw as rising rates of crime and of immorality (by which he meant prostitution, among both European and African women), and lack of official control over the African day-labourers who made up the bulk of the citys workforce. Africans in the city behaved very differently from the way they did in what Stuart saw as their real homes in the country districts, and
69Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 133-38. 70J.W. Howard (ed.), Twentieth Century


John Wright

ff. 71Howard (ed.), Twentieth Century, 64.

Impression of Natal (Perth, 1906), 352-60, 416

were led into committing crimes unheard of in the old Zulu order. Particularly worrying, in his view, was the sinking of wives and daughters from the countryside into rampant prostitution. For their part, Europeans had no concern for the welfare of Africans, and management of what was an honest and noble race by the authorities was marked by its laxity.72 Of Ndukwanas response to life in the modernizing metropolis we know nothing, unless it was indirectly expressed in the historical conversations which he and Stuart resumed at the end of 1901 and beginning of 1902. To begin with, their discussions ranged mainly over relations between Dingane and Mpande, and, more briefly, over what he knew about the history of the Mthethwa main house.73 They held further intermittent discussions from July 1902 to June 1903, with a final round in September-October 1903. The management of womens age-regiments and of the women of the isigodlo (royal establishment of wives and of young women given as tribute), relations between men and women, and ukuhlonipha (formal avoidances practised by women) were treated at length. Other topics examined in some detail were rights in land, the Zulu royal inkatha, and boyhood in the Zulu kingdom. Of event-oriented matters, the history of the Mthethwa in the early nineteenth century, relations between Mpande and Cetshwayo, and the advent of the pretender Sitimela in the Mthethwa chiefdom in 1881 were among those touched on.74 By this time Stuart was actively seeking out other potential discussants with special knowledge of the reigns of the Zulu kings, and of earlier times. At the end of December 1901 and the beginning of January 1902 he held prolonged question-and-answer sessions with another long-standing acquaintance from his Zululand days. This was Socwatsha kaPhaphu, whom he regarded as smart as well as knowledgeable on Zulu history, and whom he had specially requested to come to visit him from his home near the Nsuze river in southern Zululand.75 In the middle of 1902 Stuart launched into what became a more structured programme of discussion than anything he had done previously. Particularly important conversations were held with a network of men from the Mapumulo district: Mkhando, Ndlovu, Mhuyi, and Jantshi, and with Thununu from the Qwabe country north of the lower Thukela.
72Natal Government, Blue Book on Native Affairs 1901 (Pietermaritzburg, 1902), B61B63. 73JSA, volume 4, 345-48. 74JSA, volume 4, 349-83. 75Stuart Collection, File 71, page 63, note dated 9 December 1901.

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In this period of his research, Stuart for the first time showed a strong interest in recording the praises of the Zulu kings and of other notables. As he himself noted, he was by this time coming to realize that praises were not only of great social importance among African people but were also a major source of evidence on the past; in his view, in fact, they constituted the national record.76 As already noted, Ndukwana was not among the individuals from whom Stuart recorded praises at any length. By this time, too, Stuart seems to have been shifting towards enquiring somewhat more about political history and somewhat less about custom than is to be found in his notes of Ndukwanas testimony. For his part, Ndukwana was present during nearly all of the discussions between Stuart and his other major interlocutors in this period, and occasionally provided commentary and supplementary information.77 By this time his role as sounding board and critic may have been as important to Stuart as was his role as interlocutor.


John Wright

We know very little of how Ndukwana had come by his knowledge of history and custom. Much of it, pertaining to the latter part of Mpandes reign (1840-1872) and to Cetshwayos reign (1872-79), would have been a product of his own experiences and observations. As a not infrequent visitor to the kings courts, he would have been well placed to pick up information on public affairs, past and present, from conversations with other officials and with visitors, great and otherwise, from other parts of the kingdom. He would no doubt have learnt yet more from his attendance at public hearings, where issues rooted in the past were often aired in minute detail, and from hearing the declamations of praise-singers and the singing of regimental songs and of tribal anthems.78 Stuart records the names of a few individuals from whom Ndukwana heard statements about the past. One was Mnyamana kaNqgengelele, already mentioned as chief of the Buthelezi.79 Another was Zibhebhu
76Stuart Collection, File 60, nbk. 4, pages 7-8, note dated 3 January1902. 77For example, JSA, volume 1, 190-91, under Jantshi; JSA, volume 4, 206,

217, under Ndlovu. 78On the importance of praise-singers as conduits of knowledge about the past, see the explicit statement made to Stuart by John Gama in Swaziland in November 1898: JSA, volume 1, 365. 79JSA, volume 4, 282.

kaMaphitha, head of the uMandlakazi section, whom Ndukwana frequently heard speak and whom he describes as having a very intimate knowledge of old Zulu affairs.80 A third was Mqikilelo, who seems to have held some sort of official position under Mpande as a great composer of songs for his amabutho; one of these, as referred to by Ndukwana, was about people who had fled from the Zulu kingdom into Natal.81 A fourth was Ndukwanas maternal grandmother, Sonyumba kaNdingotshe of the abakwaMtshali people, who told him about the attacks made by the Mthethwa under Dingiswayo.82 Ndukwanas father and other senior Masondo men of his generation, we should remember, had been killed off in his infancy by Dingane, which probably cut off an important conduit of the history of the Masondo and of Ndukwanas own family. The details that he imparted to Stuart had no doubt come to him from others of his people at iMpangiso. At various points, Ndukwana also names individuals who, in his opinion, were capable of giving Stuart detailed information on specific historical topics.83 Whether he himself had ever conversed with them on the past is not recorded. At a more general level, Ndukwanas perspectives on the past would have been influenced in important ways by the nature of the forces political, social, cultural, intellectual which shaped the generation and circulation, in private and in public, of ideas about the past in the Zulu kingdom in which he lived for the first forty years of his life. Very little academic research has been done in this historiographically important and complex field, and only a few pointers from Ndukwanas testimony, some of them explicit, others not, can be given here. Thus he told Stuart: People did not know of matters pertaining to the times of Dingiswayo and Tshaka. They only narrated war stories, not customs etc.84 And thus: Mpande refused to allow his regiments to sing songs (raya) about the white people whom he regarded as his friends.85 One wonders here how much information and opinion on historical matters was thus prevented from entering wider circulation. And, to take a third example, this time from the period when the Zulu kingdom was disintegrating, Ndukwana cites the case of Mnyamana who, on an important public occasion, invoked a precedent which he claimed had been set by Shaka, to justify his not turning against the white people in the
80JSA, 81JSA, 82JSA, 83JSA, 84JSA, 85JSA,

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volume 4, 307. volume 4, 265. volume 4, 326, 361. volume 4, 264, 289-90. volume 4, 325. The italics indicate translation from the isiZulu original. volume 4, 265. The italics indicate translation from the isiZulu original.

Zululand rebellion of 1888.86 The documentary sources need to be combed for historiographical statements of this kind. From another angle, Carolyn Hamilton has drawn attention to the lines of contestation of the past which were drawn in Zulu society by four major political fissurings in the kingdoms history: the assassination of Shaka and the succession of his brother Dingane in 1828, the overthrow of Dingane by his brother Mpande in the civil war of 1839-1840; the war over the succession to the kingship between Cetshwayo and his brother Mbuyazi in 1856, and the civil wars, largely fomented by British officials, that effectively destroyed the kingdom in the 1880s.87 In this context, we need to take account of the fact that as a member of the iMpangiso royal section, Ndukwana would have been an Mpande man over against the supporters of the house of Dingane. Loyalty to the house of Mpande also seems to have placed him among the supporters of Mbuyazi rather than of Cetshwayo. By his own account, he saw Mbuyazi as Mpandes rightful successor.88 But later, in the wars of the 1880s, as a member of the iMpangiso section he would have been seen by the enemies of the Zulu royal house as a royalist and supporter of the uSuthu following of Cetshwayo, Mpandes successor. The ways in which these complex and shifting affiliations shaped the kind of testimony that he gave to Stuart can be determined only through the close textual examination of it which still awaits doing.


John Wright

Stuarts last recorded discussion with Ndukwana took place in October 1903.89 After this he is lost to the historians view. By this time he would have been about 65, and it may be that employer and retainer decided between them that it was time for him to retire to his home. Whether this was still located in the iMpangiso region near Ceza we do not know. Nor do we know when he died and joined the ancestors whose names Stuart had recorded. Unlike the testimonies of others of Stuarts major informants, only one brief statement that can be attributed to Ndukwana on the Zulu royal inkatha found new if anonymous life in the isiZulu school readers
86JSA, volume 4, 264-65. 87Hamilton, Terrific Majesty, 55-59. 88JSA, volume 4, 198-99, note recorded


1902. 89JSA, volume 4, 382-83.

in testimony of Ndlovu kaThimuni, 7 November

which Stuart published in the 1920s.90 The lengthy records of his discussions with Stuart began to be examined by academic historians in the 1970s, but remained largely out of public sight until they were published in the James Stuart Archive in 1986.91 To the extent, though, that his views on the past, and on native affairs in the present, served to shape Stuarts thinking, and thus the latters interviews with his other interlocutors, Ndukwanas indirect influences may have gone much wider in his own lifetime. Dubow, Saul, Illicit Union: Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (Johannesburg, 1995). Guy, Jeff, The View across the River: Harriette Colenso and the Zulu Struggle against Imperialism (Charlottesville/Oxford/Cape Town, 2001). Hamilton, Carolyn, Identity, Oral Traditions and the Struggle for Power in the Early Zulu Kingdom, MA thesis, University of the Witwatersrand (1985). , Authoring Shaka: Models, Metaphors and Historiography, PhD thesis, Johns Hopkins University (1993). , Terrific Majesty: the Powers of Shaka Zulu and the Limits of Historical Imagination (Cape Town, 1998). , Bernard Mbenga, and Robert Ross, The Production of Preindustrial South African History, in: Carolyn Hamilton, Bernard Mbenga, and Robert Ross (eds.), The Cambridge History of South Africa, Volume 1, from Early Times to 1885 (New York, 2010), 1-62. Harries, Patrick, Butterflies and Barbarians: Swiss Missionaries and Systems of Knowledge in South-East Africa (Oxford/Harare/Johannesburg/Athens OH, 2007). Kopytoff, Igor, Introduction, in: Igor Kopytoff (ed.), The African Frontier: the Reproduction of Traditional African Societies (Bloomington / Indianapolis, 1989), 8-78. Laband, John, Rope of Sand: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Kingdom in the Nineteenth Century (Johannesburg, 1995). Laband, J.P.C., and P.S. Thompson, Field Guide to the War in Zululand and the Defence of Natal 1879 (Pietermaritzburg, 1983).

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Stuart, uKulumetule (London, 1925), 123. The English original is reproduced in JSA, volume 4, 373. 91Wright, Making, 348.

Lambert, John, Betrayed Trust: Africans and the State in Colonial Natal (Pietermaritzburg, 1995). , and Robert Morrell, Domination and Subordination in Natal, 18901920, in: Robert Morrell (ed.), Political Economy and Identities in KwaZulu-Natal: Historical and Social Perspectives (Durban, 1996), 6395. Mokoena, Hlonipha, Magema Fuze: the Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (Pietermaritzburg, 2011). Natal Government, Blue Book on Native Affairs 1901 (Pietermaritzburg, 1902). Odendaal, Andr, Vukani Bantu! The Beginnings of Black Protest Politics in South Africa to 1912 (Cape Town, 1984). Stuart, James, uKulumetule (London, 1925). Webb, Colin, and John Wright (eds.), The James Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples, volume 4 (Pietermaritzburg, 1986). Wright, John, The Dynamics of Power and Conflict in the ThukelaMzimkhulu Region in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries: a Critical Reconstruction, PhD thesis, University of the Witwatersrand (1989). , The making of the James Stuart Archive, History in Africa 23 (1996), 333-50. , Rediscovering the Ndwandwe Kingdom, in: Natalie Swanepoel, Amanda Esterhuysen, and Philip Bonner (eds.), Five Hundred Years Rediscovered: Southern African Precedents and Prospects (Johannesburg, 2008), 217-38. , and Andrew Manson, The Hlubi People in Zululand and Natal: a History (Ladysmith, 1983).


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