Answer to Question #142465 in History for Thobeka Sylvester

Question #142465
n your own words, summarise Julian Cobbing’s argument regarding the events of the early 19th century commonly known as mfecane.
Expert's answer

The Mfecane was a period of widespread chaos and warfare among indigenous ethnic communities in southern Africa during the period between 1815 and about 1840. According to Julian Cobbing, the accounts of Mfecane were a self-serving, constructed product of the apartheid politicians and historians. According to him, other politicians erred in conceptualizing the Mfecane as a period of internally induced black-on-black destruction. To him, the roots of the conflicts could be found exclusively in the labor needs of the Portuguese slave traders operating out of Delagoa Bay, in modern-day Mozambique, and of the British colonists in the Cape. As a result of this pressure, there was massive displacement, famine, and war in the interior allowing later Afrikaner settlers to seize control of most land.

Julian Cobbing erred in his argument which showed little evidence of the resumption of the Portuguese slave trade out of Delagoa Bay before 1823 and the Mfecane was not Shaka’s early military activities as a response to slave raids but rather those responsible for the slave raids were the missionaries coming from the cape. The Mfecane was also as a result of the ivory trade in Delagoa Bay where the African groups and leaders sought to establish more centralized and complex state formations to control ivory routes and the wealth associated with the trade. These pressures resulted to internal movements and reactions against European activities that drove the state formations and concomitant violence and displacement.


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