Objectivity of “Shaka Zulu” by Ritter

Subject: History
Pages: 2
Words: 377
Reading time:
2 min

There are several European writers that provided narratives about Shaka. Shaka’s reign, as well as the story, was revised by recent scholarly studies. Nathaniel Isaacs, aided by Henry Francis Fynn, are two of the earlier eyewitness on the Shaka adventures. They are white adventurer-traders who met Shaka in his last years of reign. Incidentally, the book Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa in 1836 depicted Shaka as a lowlife monster.

Fynn’s diary also had accounts of Shaka. It was edited by James Stuart in 1950, and The James Stuart Archive balanced the negative picture with the rich oral histories collected around 1900 by Stuart supported by accounts and the African oral tradition of retelling epics. Another D. Mac Malcolm in 1950 and A.T. Bryant pictured Zulu in a more objective manner, but Ritter’s novel is at most romantic and repackaged as historical. Donald Morris’ 1965 “The Washing of The Spears” had extensive sources that span from Stuart to A.T. Bryant, known to have done research and interviews in four decades which acknowledges Shaka’s military and social innovations. Up to this day, Morris’ version of the Shaka and Zulu legend was considered the most reliable and factual.

While it was not very certain how historian writer Ritter treated Zulu and Shaka’s stories and history, it was obviously slanted towards emphasizing the personal achievements of Shaka over many tribes that have characterized political domains in the African region. The language used failed to objectively present views of various sectors or parties that may represent conquered tribes, neighboring tribes, and even European authoritative voices that may add credence and validity to what has been narrated. Other writers, however, presented more bias towards an unbelievably evil Shaka, which is also contestable.

As such, it was possible that the African oral tradition of preservation of historical data is employed, which is at most influenced by beliefs of deity-warriors with which Shaka may have been associated. African narration of pre-European accounts are orally transmitted from one generation to another, and there is the possibility that the stories may have either been deducted or added with the actual or imagined exploits of those who were doing the narration.