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: Princess Mkabayi Kajama (c.1750 – c.1843)

Authors: MZ Shamase

Journal: Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Since the beginning of time, women have had a great share in shaping history by different means during different epochs. Historians, following typical chauvinistic tendencies, wrote about women in a manner that considered them as inferior citizens whose existence was limited to the confines of homes and the care of children. Despite this, Africa in general and South Africa 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 is fraught with women, the most important of whom were princess Mkabayi Kajama; Queen Nandi, the mother of Emperor Shaka and also Queen Monase who contributed in shaping the Zulu monarchy behind the scenes to what it became in the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the contribution of Princess Mkabayi KaJama to the Zulu monarchy. Historical and archival sources about the Zulu royal women provided information for this study. It was largely through the keyhole of oral history or indigenous knowledge that one could comprehend what their thinking, character traits and contributions were. Unravelling the important role played by Mkabayi in the Zulu monarchy and nation is assumed to the major contribution of this paper . Keywords : Oral history, royal women, Zulu monarchy, Princess Mkabayi KaJama