Society of African Journal Editors

Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

The royal women of the Zulu monarchy through the keyhole of oral history: Queens Nandi (c. 1764 – c.1827) and Monase (c. 1797 – 1880)

Authors: MZ Shamase

Journal: Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Historians, following typical chauvinistic tendencies, have chronicled events in a manner that relegates women to the background and confines their role to caring for homes and children. However, south east Africa in general and the Zulu monarchy in particular are replete with examples of female dynasties, regents and rulers who took up positions of leadership through periods of nation-building and wars of resistance. Zulu culture has 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 18 th and early 19 th centuries. They were undoubtedly 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. As much information as possible has been obtained for this article 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