Rewriting History?

Shalo Mbatha (second from the right) at uZulu book launch
Shalo Mbatha (second from the right) at uZulu book launch

Twenty years in the making, uZulu, Umlando Nobuqhawe bukaZulu, is a new non-fiction book from journalist-cum-author, Shalo Mbatha. The book, which involved years of field research, as well as thousands of hours of desktop research, covers 800 years of Zulu history, and is divided into sections based on the different Zulu kings of the time. The book also looks extensively at diet, education, family structure and warfare, and has been lauded by King Goodwill Zwelithini, who writes in the foreword that “the Zulu voice has been missing in the narration of Zulu history”. The King is also of the belief that Mbatha’s ability to interview people in their own language puts her at a distinct advantage, and that a non-isiZulu speaker would lose the nuances and hidden messages that often get lost in translation.

But the book is not without controversy – Mbatha disputes some long held beliefs, such as the defeat of the Zulu army on the banks of the Blood River. Mbatha says that she visited the area, checked all the available literature, and concluded that there was no evidence of a Zulu loss in the battle.

She admits that she’s already been challenged on segments of the book. “What I’ve written is what I found. It is very important that we have a conversation… If you don’t agree with my research‚ write your book and get it right. Nobody owns the story.”

Image courtesy of Twitter

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