Women of valour: character exposition of some Zulu royal women

  • Maxwell Z. Shamase
Keywords: Oral history, Royal women, Zulu monarchy, Queen Nandi, Queen Monase


Historians, in typical chauvinistic tendencies, chronicled events in a manner that relegated women to the background and confined their role to that of homes and the care of children. On the contrary, South East-Africa in general and Zulu monarchy in particular, are replete with many examples of female dynasties, regents and rulers who took up positions of leadership through periods of nation-building and wars of resistance. Zulu culture is fraught with a plethora of women, the most important of whom included queen Nandi, the mother of Emperor Shaka and queen Monase who contributed in shaping the Zulu monarchy behind the scenes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They were unequivocally the heroines of the Zulu monarchy. The very mention of the word ‘heroines’ conjures up images of larger-than-life personalities, hearty souls who never backed down from danger. For this paper one has researched and found as much information as possible from resource material and interviews about these Zulu royal women. In researching the subject one could not find many written historical sources that give a detailed account of their influence except for brief references and descriptions. It was only through the keyhole of oral history or indigenous knowledge that one could comprehend the nature and extent of their thinking, character traits and contributions.

Keywords: Oral history, Royal women, Zulu monarchy, Queen Nandi, Queen Monase


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9231