Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 10
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Hannaford, Matthew J. and Nash, David J. 2016. Climate, history, society over the last millennium in southeast Africa. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, p. n/a.

    Keitumetse, Susan Osireditse 2016. African Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management.

    Delius, Peter and Schirmer, Stefan 2014. ORDER, OPENNESS, AND ECONOMIC CHANGE IN PRECOLONIAL SOUTHERN AFRICA: A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE BOKONI TERRACES. The Journal of African History, Vol. 55, Issue. 01, p. 37.

    Keitumetse, Susan 2013. Cultural Resources as Sustainability Enablers: Towards a Community-Based Cultural Heritage Resources Management (COBACHREM) Model. Sustainability, Vol. 6, Issue. 1, p. 70.

    Ekblom, Anneli 2012. Livelihood Security, Vulnerability and Resilience: A Historical Analysis of Chibuene, Southern Mozambique. AMBIO, Vol. 41, Issue. 5, p. 479.

    Harris, Lynn Jones, Jennifer and Schnitzer, Kate 2012. Monuments in the Desert: A Maritime Landscape in Namibia. Journal of Maritime Archaeology, Vol. 7, Issue. 1, p. 111.

    Rosenberg, Scott 2001. 'The Justice of Queen Victoria': Boer Oppression, and the Emergence of a National Identity in Lesotho. National Identities, Vol. 3, Issue. 2, p. 133.

    Creary, Nicholas M. 1999. African Inculturation of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe, 1958–1977. The Historian, Vol. 61, Issue. 4, p. 765.

    Rosenberg, Scott 1999. Monuments, Holidays, and Remembering Moshoeshoe: The Emergence of National Identity in Lesotho, 1902-1966. Africa Today, Vol. 46, Issue. 1, p. 48.

    PRIDMORE, JULIE 1996. Beyond Postmodernism? Rehistoricising Shaka and the Mfecane. South African Historical Journal, Vol. 35, Issue. 1, p. 202.


Sources of Conflict in Southern Africa, c. 1800–30: The ‘Mfecane’ Reconsidered*

  • Elizabeth A. Eldredge (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2009

The so-called ‘mfecane’ has been explained in many ways by historians, but never adequately. Julian Cobbing has absolved the Zulu of culpability for ongoing regional conflicts, but his work is severely flawed in its use of evidence. Cobbing is incorrect to argue that the Delagoa Bay slave trade existed on a large scale prior to the disruptions beginning in 1817, and European slaving therefore cannot have been a root cause of political turmoil and change, as he claims. Cobbing correctly identifies European-sponsored slave-raiding as a major cause of violence across the north-eastern Cape Frontier, but his accusations of missionary involvement are false. Jeff Guy's interpretation of the rise of the Zulu kingdom based on environmental factors is inadequate because he examined only stock-keeping and not arable land use, which led him to false conclusions about demography and politics. In this paper I argue that the socio-political changes and associated demographic turmoil and violence of the early nineteenth century in southern Africa were the result of a complex interaction between factors governed by the physical environment and local patterns of economic and political organization. Increasing inequalities within and between societies coupled with a series of environmental crises transformed long-standing competition over natural resources and trade in south-eastern Africa into violent struggles.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of African History
  • ISSN: 0021-8537
  • EISSN: 1469-5138
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-african-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *