The Mfecane controversy

Aug 2011
Is RU Professor Julian Cobbing (The Cobbing controversy/theory) correct in stating that the Mfecane was caused more by the growth of European settlements, trade and intervention in the region? Or...

Would it be more correct in stating a older belief that it was caused by more dynamic factors like the emergence of corn as a major food supply, population growth and the rise of the Zulu kingdom under the reign of King Shaka and the beginnings of inter-tribal warfare caused by Zulu expansion that lasted from about 1815 to around 1840?


Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
♪♬ ♫♪♩
I always read it was the latter. Could you elaborate some more on Julian Cobbing's hypothesis?
Aug 2011
Certainly. though before i do, is wikipedia considered a reliable source around here? If so...

[ame=""]Julian Cobbing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

"He argued that the Mfecane was a construct of Apartheid politicians and historians attempting to justify the longstanding oppression of black South Africans by their white colonisers. Instead of an internally-induced process of black-on-black destruction, Cobbing argued that much of the violence had been brought about by European slave traders and settlers, who had contracted local tribal leaders to capture slaves for sale at Delagoa Bay (now Maputo). The rise of the Zulu state, under Cobbing's hypothesis, was thus more of a defensive reaction to the slave-trading activities of other tribes in the region, than a process of active internal aggression."

Admittedly and with regret, that i can't offer any more information because i am not that knowledgeable on the subject myself. Becoming aware of this only after rereading the book "Washing of the Spears" and doing some research on it through the internet. Hope this helps?
Mar 2012
New York
In every book I've read it said that it was the Zulus. But the mfecane wasn't all bad though. It created Lesotho.