Twentieth-century Natal and Zululand chiefs' conversions to the Nazaretha Church allowed them to craft new narratives of political legitimacy and perform them to their subjects. The well-established praising tradition of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Zulu political culture had been an important narrative practice for legitimating chiefs; throughout the twentieth century, the erosion of chiefly power corresponded with a decline in chiefly praise poems. During this same period, however, new narrative occasions for chiefs seeking to legitimate their power arose in Nazaretha sermon performance. Chiefs used their conversion testimonies to narrate themselves as divinely appointed to their subjects. An alliance between the Nazaretha Church and KwaZulu chiefs of the last hundred years meant that the Church could position itself as an institution of national stature, and chiefs told stories that exhorted unruly subjects to obedience as a spiritual virtue.
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