Zulu history was ‘falsified’

Zwelithini has now set up a team of experts to investigate how the KwaZulu-Natal region’s history was “falsified”.

Addressing a land restitution function for the Gumbi community in Pongola South Africa recently, Zwelithini said it was false and misleading to say that land had been signed to settlers by previous kings because it was not Zulu culture to give land away as it belonged to the people.

Zwelithini also rejected suggestions that the Zulu kings in the 1830s could have signed away large tracts of land to white settlers, as they could not write at the time.

“To say Zulu kings could have entered into agreements to give away land to white settlers is rubbish because around the 1830s, no Zulu king could write and would have been unable to sign such agreements,” he said.

The king said a popular false story which was peddled was that King Dingane, sitting on a swivel chair at his Umgungundlovu Palace near Ulundi, had signed away large tracts of land to Afrikaner settlers in the 1830s.

“Firstly, it is doubtful that swivel chairs were around during that time. It was also not in the Zulu culture to give away land in KwaZulu because the land does not belong to an individual, but is held by the king in trust for the community,” he said.

It was about time “these lies and the falsification of the history of the African people” came to an end, he said.

Zwelithini said he was assembling a team of experts to investigate Zulu history as it was currently written, with a view to correcting misleading and false aspects.

Jabulani Maphalala, a professor of history at the University of Zululand, agreed with the king, saying that Dingane could not have signed away land as he was illiterate.

Maphalala said: “In the archives, there is something called the Dingane-Piet Retief Treaty. But one wonders how Dingane, who was illiterate, was able to sign his name. This appears to be forgery,” he said.

Maphalala said he was part of the team appointed to investigate Zulu history: “There is justification for a look at the history as it is currently written because it is false and misleading.”

He said another falsehood circulated was that the Income River (Blood River) had become red with blood during the famous battle between the Zulus and the Boers.

“There is information that indicates that the battle was not fought anywhere close to the banks of the river. We need to investigate this history because it is being fed to our children at schools as if it was correct.”

Speaking about how people were settled on land in Zulu culture, the king said people requesting land were first interviewed to find out why they had left their previous abode. Land was never simply handed over.

“This is meant to root out people who would arrive in a village to cause problems for the community. Then (when approved) a person would be given land to settle on and to plough. But that land would not necessarily belong to him, but to the community,” he said. ‘ Mercury.

July 2006
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