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Shaka Zulu The Great African Warrior

African Warior Shaka Zulu.

circa 1787 -- 1828

Shaka Zulu the great african warrior and military sratagiest who assumed the throne of the Zulu kingdom. After he organized the zulu into a military clan, he then forged them into a force unchallenged in Southern African kingdoms.

Monteiro-Ferreira, Ana Maria (Temple University): Reevaluating Zulu Religion: An Afrocentric Analysis, Journal of Black Studies 35:3 [January 2005] pp. 347-363

Through a brief overview of Zulu history and traditions, this article, committed to reevaluating traditional Zulu social patterns, questions the European interpretations of Zulu people's system of beliefs and religious and spiritual concepts. From an Afrocentric critical reading of major works by three European authors (Callaway, Hexham, and Berglund), this study is an attempt to trace the spiritual African heritage of the Zulus back to the ancient Kemetic concepts.

Rather than insisting on the attribution of Christian and Muslin traditions to the Southern African indigenous peoples, this article aims at showing the inconsistency of such attributions vis--vis the human being's responsibility that underlies the holistic cosmogony of every African.

As far as the European recognition is concerned, the last glorious achievement of the Zulu army was the battle of Isandhlawana on January 22, 1879, where the Zulu, armed with spears and clubs, wiped out an entire British regiment, rendering their cannons and guns useless against Zulu's war strategy of swift surprise attacks.

Notwithstanding, the perverse effect of the glorious performance of Zulu's intelligence, strength, and military organization determined a reinforcement of the British weaponry and recrudescent military opposition until Ulundi, the Zulu capital, was burned down on July 4, 1897, and the Zululand came under direct British ruling.

Very much from this British military failure and because pre-19th-century Zulu history could not for a long time be traced by written records other than the ones established after 1824 by the reports of the European settlers in Natal, the Zulu peoples have gained their reputation as ruthless warriors, as well as a people with no religion.

On the Zulu side, however, the need for survival to the preconceived ideas of the European missionaries and traders and to the colonialism of the European powers made them tenaciously defend their cultural heritage, and their former pride and political position in South Africa have been regained in the 20th century under Buthelezi.

Nowadays, the largest Zulu population can still be found in the region of KwaZulu on the eastern coast of Africa, but many live in the cities of urban South Africa where, according to an estimate, approximately 8 million South Africans considered themselves Zulu or members of closely related ethnic groups in the 1990s.

As historical sources put it, the African peoples who settled in subequatorial Eastern and Southern Africa descend from two broad groups:

* the Khoi-San, hunters and cattle raisers, ochre-skinned races descendent of Early Stone Age progenitors, who lived all over Southern Africa; and

* the Bantu, a term derived from the Zulu collective noun for ''people'' of Black races who lived in the Great Lakes region of subequatorial Central-to-East Africa. Bigger, stronger, more aggressive, and technologically more advanced, they displaced those of Khoi-San origin when a growing population required more land.

The Bantu-speaking people were divided into two broad groups: Nguni-speaking people who are the Zulu ancestors, and speakers of other African languages.

The Nguni people are named after the charismatic figure who is said to have led a migration from Egypt to the Great Lakes via the Red Sea corridor and Ethiopia and settled in the mystical Embo.

At that time, there was not even a clan called Zulu among those who made up the Nguni people but their wealth was measured in cattle, a tradition that continued throughout the modern Zulu Kingdom. (1)

Most of the speakers of other languages, such as Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga, and Venda, lived in the interior of the country.

Some 3,000 years ago, when the explosion in population of both people and livestock led inevitably to the quest for new land, the Nguni chiefs began moving their communities. First, they moved east and southeast into the territory making up modern-day Zambia and Zimbabwe and later, during the 16th century, into the beautiful coastal strip of Maputaland, modern Mozambique.

Under this extreme pressure, the Lala people, descended from the Khoi-San, were forced to either integrate or move on.

These are historical divisions of what is nowadays generally known as the Zulu peoples, whose background of historical conquests has made them a multicultural society bound together by similar languages, similar rituals and celebrations performed around common symbols, and common African systems of beliefs.

The social organization of the Nguni clan included an extended polygynous family determined by male lineage as well as other relatives through a variety of kinship ties and people who had attached themselves to the household or imizi.

These social units were politically organized into chiefdoms ruled by the dominant lineage of the strongest clan.

Chiefdom typically included a group of related patrilineal clans or descent groups united by common ancestry only a few generations deep.

These paramount chiefs, however, had insufficient military strength to guarantee loyalty among the vassal chiefs, and their influence thus expanded or disappeared as the result of shifting allegiances or the birth of new clans as chiefs' sons went forth to establish new homesteads.

This was exactly what happened to the ruling days of Malandela, when such a clan came into being by virtue of his son, Zulu, a high spirited and determined young man whose name means Heaven.

Zulu, his wives, and his followers accompanied the new clan further south to the Mkhumbane River basin where he established his own small realm--the first KwaZulu, or Place of Heaven or Sky.

Zulu built his homestead according to the Nguni tradition. The cattle-fold's central position within the kraal(2) evinced animals' crucial role in society.

Cattle were central to most Nguni economies, with an almost complete dependence on herding and crop cultivation, often supplemented by hunting. Cattle were also used for the lobola (dowry) that added more wealth to the clan when the girls were married off; cattle were also the source of meat and milk, with their hides used for clothing and battle-shields. Cattle, and especially the cattle-fold where rituals and ceremonies in veneration of the ancestors took place, were of ritual significance too.

The clan's homesteads were arranged in a crescent at the higher end of a sloping piece of land with irregularly shaped fields for planting grains and vegetables around it, which made them self-sufficient entities.

Until the 18th century or later, historians believe, these chiefdoms were not united under a king or monarch.

In 1805, Dingiswayo, the leader of the Mthethwa people, had become increasingly important due to his military conquests and dominated much of the region north of the Tugela River.

After the paramount Chief Jobe's death, he claimed that he was Ngodongwana, one of Jobe's sons, and took over political power.

To consolidate his political position, Dingiswayo called the other chiefdoms into a confederacy and introduced important reforms, both social and political. Not only did he create a regular army but he also abolished circumcision as the ritual of passage into manhood. Instead, he replaced it with the ritual of entering the army. He established different army units based on age-set, distinguishable by dressings and shields to create a sense of pride and identity. This was the first permanent armed force in the region.

Shaka, who was a child of Senzangakona, Zulu chief in 1787, joined Dingiswayo's army at the age of 16 and won recognition in 1810 by skillfully subduing the leader of the warring Buthelezi chiefdom. Apparently loyal to Dingiswayo while he lived, Shaka took advantage of Dingiswayo's military defeat by the neighboring Ndwandwe armies and began building the Zulu empire after Dingiswayo's death in 1818, establishing its capital in Bulawayo.

United by Shaka, the Zulu or Amazulu kingdom gained supremacy over almost two thirds of South Africa during a period of 10 years. Shaka Zulu (r. 1817-1828) became a remarkable king by adopting new fighting strategies, by consolidating control over his military regiments, and by the enduring warfare capabilities of his warrior regiments, the impis.

In 1879, the Zulus inflicted that major defeat to the British armies at Isandhlwana, but this triumph paradoxically dictated the destruction of the Zulu nation as an independent kingdom.

The Zulu empire weakened after Shaka's death in 1828 and fragmented, especially following military defeats at the hands of the Afrikaners and the British.

Zululand, the area north of the Tugela River, was invaded by the British armies and finally incorporated into the British colony, Natal, in 1887.

Among the many consequences of the destruction of the Zululand as an independent nation, there is one that needs special reference: the increasing activity of the missionaries among the Zulu peoples and their consequent conversion to Christianity.

Although the presence of Europeans and Arabs among the African peoples in general was known, prior to 1824 very little was reported about the Europeans living among South African clans, and even less was known about their contact with the Arabs.

Next to 1824, however, there are reports of mutual arrangements between Europeans, mainly adventurers and traders who established in Port Natal (now Durban) for a base for trade with the interior populations, and King Shaka, very much interested in their guns and powder.

Much of what has been written about the Zulu peoples has therefore been authored by these European traders and missionaries during the first 50 years of contact, and their accounts reflect the contradictions and misunderstandings created by the clash of two different stages of development and worldviews.

Although we may not totally agree with Mazrui's (1986) theory of a mixed legacy or ''Africa's Tripartite Heritage'' (Asante & Abarry, 1996 , p. 211) as the cultural coalescence of African indigenous cultures with Christians and Muslims from the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. onward, and especially after the colonizing experience of the 15th century, we must undoubtedly consider that there is an extremely imbricate pattern of cultural fusions that must be sorted out to reach the African essence of Africa and deploy the generally accepted interpretations of African cultures from non-African influences.

Following modern African historians like Diop (1974),(3) Obenga, and Asante, who partake in the idea that ''between the earliest writings in the Nile Valley and the varied writings of Africans at this moment of history, there are fascinating and illuminating cultural linkages'' (Asante & Abarry, 1996 , p. 11), I intend to demonstrate that only by diving into classical Africa can we understand what is truly African about Africa.

Otherwise, the preconceived ideas of the Europeans about African peoples and the extent to which they have changed, influenced, and sometimes erased African culture will hardly be fully assessed. Only through the questioning of present-day overviews of African history and religion, served by Western European interpretations that make the task of understanding what are the traditional roots of African religious ideas a very hazardous one, will we find the path to the true African heritage in ancient Kemetic civilization.

This is, in its essence, the Afrocentric perspective that allows for the understanding that although each African society has developed its unique orientation in the quest for a functional and holistic understanding of the universe and the mysteries of life like birth and death, a common spiritual heritage can be traced back to the ancient Kemetic concepts of the origin of the world and the human beings based on three common functional principles that can be identified in all African religions and whose source is the religious and philosophical thought of Kemet:

Harmony, a concept that keeps a close religious relationship between humans, and between humans and the environment;

Ethics or Ma'at that in African societies is the generative principle of right and righteousness, balance, justice, harmony, respect, and dignity; and

Ancestors worship that embodies the concept of epic memory and wisdom, which is the source of ethical teachings and social harmony.

SOURCES

For the purpose of this study that I claim to be an Afrocentric critical reading of Zulu peoples' system of beliefs through the many interpretative problems that still can arise in the recognition of true African concepts, I selected three major works on Zulu history and religion:

* The outstanding selection of the most representative texts by Nathaniel Isaacs (1836), Allen Gardiner (1836), Francis Owen (1837), and William Holden (1866), among other authors, cited in Hexham (1987) ;

* The re-edition of the extremely valuable publication of The Folk-Lore Society, London, in 1884 of a three-part book by Reverend Henry Callaway (1884/1967);

* The remarkable study of contemporary ''traditional religion'' of the Zulu by Axel-Ivar Berglund (1976) .

DISCUSSION

Although Hexham's selection of texts leaves us with the authors' interpretations of what they could see and experience among the Zulu during the 19th century, and Berglund's book very much relies on his interpretations of the extensive ethnographic research done among 20th-century informants, reading Callaway's outstanding work offered me what I consider to be a much more genuine insight of the Zulu people's system of beliefs.

He named his manuscript--based on the Zulu people's oral traditions--Izinyanga Zokubula; or Divination as Existing Among the Amazulu, in Their Own Words, With a Translation Into English, and Notes.

The majority of his notes, however, are language explanations and the translator's clarifications of more obscure statements.

The thorough recording of the stories told by the wisdom of age-old Zulu individuals, the careful questioning to allow the deepest understanding of detail, and the consideration of different clans' sources guided my attention into what I consider the most important challenge for researchers of African religions nowadays:

Is the belief in a Supreme Being compliant with the concept of an Almighty God among the many African ethnic groups? Is it a result of either Muslim or Christian influences, or is it part of a coherent African religious thought pattern?

The texts compiled by Hexham are authored by churchmen, mainly traders and missionaries. Although some of them, like Callaway, might have had a thorough awareness that ''some of the statements here made are the results of contact, in some way or other, with European teaching'' (Hexham, 1987 , p. 466), they could not escape either their personal bias of the inherited accessories of their own religion and European worldview or the Christian ''contamination'' of their sources.

Berglund (1976) was also aware that ''an interaction has taken place between traditional Zulu beliefs and those of missionaries and other outsiders'' (p. 26) and that statement works written in the 1930s presented similar problems of understanding Zulu traditional religious beliefs without inceptions from Christianity.

Notwithstanding, he could not make a clear distinction between past and present beliefs, and by reading his study we get the idea that a Zulu Sky God or Lord-of-the-Sky is the same conceptual idea that Eiselen and Schaper (1937, cited in Berglund, 1976 ) designate as Lord of Heaven, and Bishop Sundkler (1948, cited in Berglund, 1976 ) names High-God.

My contention, however, is that no such concept of one Supreme God governing African cosmogony is even consistent with the spiritual values and ethical responsibilities of the human being in Africans' holistic sense of oneness of humankind and nature.

Actually, I prefer to trace the meaning of this sense of oneness of humankind with nature back to the Kemetic concept of Ma'at, understood as the balanced and harmonious order of the creation where spirit and matter are inseparable.

It was human beings' duty to actively maintain this harmony. To pursue this crux ethical principle, the quest for truth, justice, harmony, and balance ought to be inherent to the righteous person, whose spiritual righteousness and rightness was more than a ''transpersonal experience within the human order. . . . It is a continuous process by which [Africans] align [themselves] with the harmony [they] find in nature'' (Asante, 1998 , pp. 83-84).

It is of no wonder, then, that the Zulu--being a Nguni people said to have descended from Egypt to the Great Lakes via the Red Sea corridor and Ethiopia--focus primarily on the principle they call Ubuntu: They exist because other people exist. This is a powerful concept that they define as the belief that humans are humans only because they interact with other people and nature, and if they were to ignore the rest of humanity and try to live in a vacuum, they would be less than human.

This is also the core of the Zulu Personal Declaration that begins (Asante & Abarry, 1996 ), ''I; I am; I am alive; I am conscious and aware; I am unique; I am who I say I am; I am the value UQOBO [essence]'' (pp. 371-378). The Zulu personal declaration is, so to speak, the corpus of the philosophical and ethical values of the Nguni populations where all the correlation between Kemetic and Zulu philosophical and religious systems can be found.

It is the relationship of humankind with nature and the natural phenomena that are the central issues in the African cosmological understanding of life, death, and creation. Like the ancient Egyptians, Africans believed that the fundamental principle of creation was the equilibrium of opposites, a perfectly established energy whose force regulates the universe; and the harmony that preexists to chaos is translated into Ma'at ''as the organizing principle of human society, the creative spirit of phenomena, and the eternal order of the universe'' (Asante, 1998 , p. 89).

These cosmological and ethical concepts were recreated through oral tradition, narratives of creation generation after generation, symbolized by the spirit of the ancestors, the guardian of an individual's quest for the generative force of cosmic harmony.

From the narratives of creation of different Zulu ethnic sources, one consistent concept of a First Creator--Ukulunkulu, Unkulunkulu, or O(n)kulukulu--emerges. And this is what the essence of Reverend Henry Callaway's work is about.

The whole set of narratives translated by Callaway unanimously points to Unkulunkulu as an agelessness concept of a first human being who came to be before time, as we conceive it, and is said to have made all things and given them to humankind to dispose of them. Then he died.

He did not leave any laws or regulations to be followed, the living present being but the renewed follow-up of past experiences, the actualization of a previous matrix inscribed on an immemorial time whose teachings is the ancestors' duty to perform.

Because the Zulu people believed in a human first creator who died away, Unkulunkulu, unlike a Supreme God, has less influence on their lives ( Berglund, 1976 , was also quite aware of this) than the spirit of the ancestors whom they can place in a time they can recognize.

When we take the Zulu oral traditions of creation, the notion of Unkulunkulu itself is a personal concept, creating and backing away, lost in a non-time dimension, which seems much closer to the Kemetic concept of a First Occasion (Tep Zepi) that contains all the blueprints of a common life than to the Supreme God of the Christian and Muslim traditions that governs humankind and the entire universe.(4)

On the other hand, the ancient Kemetic people also dealt with this nontemporal/nonspatial concept of movement from nonexistence into existence. Rather than conceiving of an all-governing God, the Zulu peoples, following ancestral African religious systems, believe in the existence of ever-present ancestral spirits who watch over daily activities, promote social harmony, and create a sense of accountability among its members.

Unlike the word shades coined by Berglund (1976) , which is, in my opinion, both a negative and a static notion reporting to the underneath world of the dead, the concept of spirits applies to all things. African ontological systems revolve around the core concept of the spirits as the vital universal energy that embodies all living things, human beings and nature alike. Africans' holistic concept of humankind and the universe, whose balance and harmony has to be respected, turned the respect for the spirits into a sacred notion that requires a sense of agency.

The concept of an Almighty God ruling over humankind and the universe as well as the polarized notions of good and evil and the Judaic-Christian sense of guilt centered on the individual are therefore incompatible with the African notion of collective agency and reciprocal respect. Inversely, among African peoples, good and bad coexist and are part of everything and of everyday life.

It is every human being's responsibility to prevent chaos and actively seek for balance and harmony in the community. Instead of guilt, shame is taboo among Africans. It is shameful to be cast out from the community when wrong actions create chaos and the disturbance of ontological order.

Therefore, it is all members of the homestead's requirement to be at peace with one another and nature. For instance, before social events or medicinal treatment can take place, peace and harmony among lineage members have to be achieved, and this provides a significant incentive to resolve their differences expediently.

Because there is no written book of precepts to guide their moral and ethical life, Zulu peoples, following traditional African systems of beliefs, depend on the spirit of the ancestors to teach them the principles of harmony, of visible and invisible, the human and nonhuman, the matter and the mind.

Under this holistic and communal wisdom, whose archetypal imprints date back to the spirit of the ageless ancestor Unkulunkulu, oral traditions of the Zulu peoples developed their ontological and cosmological systems, whose thought patterns and experiences are evinced by Zulu histories of creation.

The various reports by old Zulu people of different ethnic groups, as they appeared in Callaway (1884/1967) , are unanimous about a central concept of antiquity, the old-old one or the great-great-great grandfather, the first ancestor who no longer is, who died and no longer exists.

This timeless conceptual framework in clans like the Amazulu, the Amabaka, the Unokgopoza, and the Uzimase embodies the generative notion of priority--Umvelinqangi (meaning the first out-comer or the first to break off) and the potential source of being, Uthlanga, a feminine concept, and Unsondo, the moral concept of perfection and goodness as well as physical beauty.

Unkulunkulu, both the ancient man and woman, (5) is assigned by the Zulu peoples to a period when ancients understood the history of creation and told the new generations the accounts of Unkulunkulu and of the ancients of long ago.

This is the reason that the conceptual idea of a Supreme Being whom they must worship does not fit into the Zulu people's system of beliefs. No one worships or prays to Unkulunkulu because he is so far away. He is so separated from them in their minds that direct connection between humankind and Unkulunkulu has progressively been erased and he is not regarded as a common deity.

He is as natural as rain, food, and corn and men and women know of his existence through these manifestations that are the everyday living proof of the existence of a first creator. The idea of the Zulu peoples being indebted to the first creator has to do merely with the good things he created for them to have a pleasant life in harmony with nature.

Actually, he created everything; heaven, earth, and everything that exists did not come into existence until Unkulunkulu pronounced them, named them, designated them, and taught humankind how to use them. This is again the central philosophical concept that can be traced back to ancient Kemetic civilization--the power of Nommo (cf. Asante, 1990 ; Karenga, 1993 ).

He left to the human beings the responsibility of the ethical behavior, of the good and bad deeds, and the ancestors as bearers of balance and harmony in the community.

Zulu peoples are, therefore, ancestors' venerators. They pray to, or else they venerate and respect, the Amatongo or Itongo, which is the spirit of the ancestors, the spirit of the dead whom they call Amadholozi (plural of Idhlozi) or Umoya, whom they believe will take care of the living lineage, their wealth, cattle, and the harmony in the kraal.

The Amatongo are, therefore, in charge of bringing correction, cure, balance, and harmony into the community for the good of everybody and are as much present in the homestead just as the living members of the lineage. Communion with the spirit of the ancestors is perhaps the hugest part of traditional Zulu culture performed in the ritual sacrifice of cattle.

Wrong deeds in the community are ''censored'' by the spirits of the ancestors or Amadhlozi--those whose life is still remembered and whose teachings and examples are to be followed--and propitiatory rites are made in their honor.

The dead of a lineage--Amadhlozi or Itongo, those who died and became the inhabitants of the spirit world--manifest their spirit (Amatongo) by means of dreams, omens, or symbols that generally come as advice, warnings, or protection. These are interpreted by a diviner or a doctor and require the sacrifice of an animal (a bullock or a goat).

Cattle killing is then the most important ritual among the Zulu, and specific places within the kraal are, for that matter, the back wall of the chief's homestead where there is a shrine, called umsamo, to revere the Amatongo, the doorway through which the spirits of the ancestors are welcome, and the cattle enclosure for the sacrifices in their honor, as we have already seen.

Zulu's functional system of beliefs is completed by the symbolic position of Earth--a feminine concept of origin--and Sky--the masculine concept above. This symbolic position ties up humankind and nature as the balancing subjects of creation like the crops and the rain.

They say that Unkulunkulu had his origin in a bed of reeds and water as well as everything else, and the knowledge of everything that was brought forth by the power of the word of Unkulunkulu--the power of Nommo. From the Sky above, personified by the spirit of the Lord-of-the-Sky, who emerged from the reeds like everything else, the Zulu got their name (Zulu = sky).

According to the stories of creation, the sky is a big blue rock stretched across the surface of the earth, which is flat. The earth is conceived as being held up on the horns of four great bulls that are the cause of the earthquakes whenever they shake their heads. The sky is different from the earth only in the sense that it is believed to have perpetual light. Otherwise everything is similar to earth. The Lord-of-the-Sky, like the chief of the kraal, has his own cattle that, by tramping on the muddy ground of the sky during the rainy season, make the holes through which the sky light filters that are named the stars.

Actually, the Zulu peoples did not interpret the thunder and the lightning as the wrath of God, neither did they conceive of such a divine entity. (6) For the Zulu peoples, the thunder and the lightning mean that the king of the sky is playing with his wives. He is not angry. As for the lightning or hail, because they can kill people or cattle or destroy the crops, it is believed that they affect only those whose wrong deeds have harmed the harmony of the community or the balance of nature.

These are omens whose meaning requires the extraordinary knowledge of the doctors, the most important person in the social hierarchy next to the king or chief. As it is evinced by the diagram in the appendix, the Zulus' social organization, mirrored in the topography of the kraal, reflects both Zulus' cosmological and religious interpretations of the world. But they also mirror an imbricate pattern where sorcerers and witches, following the popular expansion of Christian concepts of good and evil, the god and the devil, easily mingled with the naturalistic trend of the Africans' cosmological perspectives.

CONCLUSION

Where do Christian interpretations clash with African worldviews? Where do they imbricate? How would one separate ones from the others? It is an almost impossible task, I agree. However, from the various oral traditions compiled by Callaway, although many could not escape the White man's perspective, I drew the following assumptions as core issues in my effort to help correct a few misreadings by non-Afrocentric scholars.

The Lord-of-the-Sky cannot be regarded as the First Being and the distant and unpredictable ruler who is to be revered and feared (Berglund, 1976), neither can we assume any relationship between the Lord-of-the-Sky and Unkulunkulu for the reasons mentioned before; much less can we regard him as the native denomination to an Almighty God.

Actually, it is not a matter of vocabulary. It is a matter of ontological views.

Quite the opposite, I would say that the importance of the Lord-of-the-Sky as well as the mythological figure of Unkulunkulu is inscribed in the functional relationship between the human beings and the natural forces that regard thunder and lightning as part of life in the sky as much as on the earth.

On the other hand, it is my opinion that the extreme logic and comprehensibility of the Zulu religious and philosophical systems became the fertile ground where the seeds of good and evil, sent over humankind by an Almighty God of Christian inspiration, easily grew into worship and veneration of a Supreme Deity, this Lord-of-the-Sky as interpreted by Berglund.

This is one more reason that I believe in an unquestionable urgency to revise the history of African peoples, reinterpret ancient sources, and reread and reevaluate previous concepts for the sake of a true African conceptual identity.

This article that was primarily committed to reevaluating traditional Zulu social patterns based on their traditional religious system of beliefs under an Afrocentric perspective, avoiding the focus of Western European conceptual framework as much as possible, has another main purpose: to be challenging enough to stimulate new discussions and bring new light into African issues so that African religions may be one more source of peace and unity rather than separation of Black people.

Footnotes:

1. For more information, please see http://www.Zululand.kzn.org.za

2. A kraal is a village formed by the homesteads of people with a common ancestor (lineage group).

3. Diop (1974) stated that ''the history of Black Africa will remain suspended in air and cannot be written correctly until African historians dare to connect it with the history of Egypt'' (p. xiv).

4. See Asante (1990) : ''Akhenaton's heresy, after thousands of years of the Egyptian attempt for harmony through Ma'at working internally, was that he sought in Aton the one cosmic generator that gave meaning to life. But this force, this one god heresy, was external, outside of the individual, a cosmic weaver weaving from afar. Thus, Akhenaton's heresy was ... [the attempt to replace] the individual's quest for Ma'at with a giver or chief of Ma'at'' (p. 84).

5. Kulu = great, expresses age. This can be clearly understood in the following word family:

Ubaba--my father Umame--my mother

Ubaba-mkulu--my grandfather (or Ukulu) Umame-mkulu--my grandmother

Ukoko--ancestor (male, female)

Unkulunkulu--ancient man or woman

6. Compare Isaacs (1836, cited in Hexham, 1987 ): ''Chaka, when we first held a conversation with him on the subject of the existence of a Supreme Being, at once evinced he had no idea of a deity, and that his people were equally ignorant on this subject''.


Ana Maria Monteiro-Ferreira is presently conducting research for her Ph.D. in American literature and culture, gender and ethnicity at Temple University. She received her M.A. in women's studies at Universidade Aberta, Lisbon, Portugal, and postgraduate in migration, subjectivity, and deconstruction at IFU, University of Hanover in Germany. She is a researcher at the Centre for Anglo-American Studies and the Centre for the Studies of Migration and Intercultural Relations of Universidade Aberta, Lisbon, as well as a boardmember of the Portuguese Association for Women's Studies.

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