The Other Zulus

The Spread of Zulu Ethnicity in Colonial South Africa

The Other Zulus

Politics, History, and Culture

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Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 3 maps Published: July 2012

African Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

In 1879, the British colony of Natal invaded the neighboring Zulu kingdom. Large numbers of Natal Africans fought with the British against the Zulus, enabling the British to claim victory and, ultimately, to annex the Zulu kingdom. Less than thirty years later, in 1906, many of those same Natal Africans, and their descendants, rebelled against the British in the name of the Zulu king. In The Other Zulus, a thorough history of Zulu ethnicity during the colonial period, Michael R. Mahoney shows that the lower classes of Natal, rather than its elites, initiated the transformation in ethnic self-identification, and they did so for multiple reasons. The resentment that Natal Africans felt toward the Zulu king diminished as his power was curtailed by the British. The most negative consequences of colonialism may have taken several decades to affect the daily lives of most Africans. Natal Africans are likely to have experienced the oppression of British rule more immediately and intensely in 1906 than they had in 1879. Meanwhile, labor migration to the gold mines of Johannesburg politicized the young men of Natal. Mahoney's fine-grained local history shows that these young migrants constructed and claimed a new Zulu identity, both to challenge the patriarchal authority of African chiefs and to fight colonial rule.


“Mahoney plunges straight to the heart of the pulsing academic debate over the problematic origins of Zulu ethnicity. His important study will certainly assume its well-merited place in the literature. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” — J. P. Laband, Choice

 “…this is a work that historians of Southern Africa must wrestle with, and one that suggests new paths of research for the future.” — Robert J. Houle, Canadian Journal of History

"In this work, Michael R. Mahoney provides a keen examination of Zulu ethnicity during the crucial formative phases of the precolonial and colonial periods." — Aran Mackinnon, The Historian

“This is a rich and thought-provoking study. The Other Zulus is an important contribution, not only to the social history of Natal and South Africa but to our understanding of the development of ethnic identities in colonial Africa and globally.” — Sara C. Jorgensen, African Studies Quarterly

“Michael Mahoney’s The Other Zulus: The spread of Zulu ethnicity in colonial South Africa is an ambitious yet careful study of the development of an overarching Zulu ethnic identity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries….[H]istorians of southern Africa and Natal... will nonetheless likely find his approach refreshing and his argumentation a productive challenge. Mahoney’s book, although based in meticulously gathered Natal and Zulu sources, has real generalized appeal for the scholar of colonialism more broadly, and would be a very useful text to assign for graduate students. Mahoney’s work is of immense interest to scholars of settler colonialism, particularly those seeking a valuable example of uncovering Indigenous motivation and articulation from the pages of imperial source material.” — T. J. Tallie, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"Michael R. Mahoney's synthetic history of how Natal Africans became Zulu is bold and provocative. It is bound to spur debate and discussion of an issue that is at once historically important and vitally relevant in the present." — Paul La Hausse, Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Michael R. Mahoney is Adjunct Professor of History at Ripon College and Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Lawrence University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Maps xii

Introduction 1

1. The Failure of Zulu Ethnic Integration in the Precolonial Zulu Kingdom 21

2. A Zulu King Too Strong to Love, a Colonial State Too Weak to Hate, 1838–1879 47

3. Increasing Conflict among Natal Africans, 1879–1906 83

4. The Role of Migrant Labor in the Spread of Zulu Ethnicity, 1886–1906 117

5. Natal Africans' Turn to Dinuzulu, 1898–1905 150

6. The Poll Tax Protests and Rebellion, 1905–1906 182

Epilogue 217

Notes 225

Bibliography 261

Index 277
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5309-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5295-2
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