Mfecane

Posted by admin on November 14, 2017 in Articles

The Mfecane The term ‘Mfecane’ has been used to describe a period of extreme adversity, widespread famine, depopulation and displacement of people over a large area of South Africa which took place during the early 19th century. It is also identified by the Sotho word “difaqane” or “lifaqane”. The word Mfecane roughly translates to “crushing” and “forced migrating.” According to Shillington the “Mfecane was a series of wars and population movement that took place over much in south Africa from 1810’s to 1830’s.” according to various historians it came about as a result of factors such as over population, land shortages, increase in trade, the rise of the Zulu Nation, and the emergence of ambitious leaders. The population explosion which began during the 18th century caused competition for resources. According to David Beach “populations had increased greatly in Zululand following the Portuguese introduction of maize in Mozambique from the Americas in the late 17th century, reaching the inland Zambezi basin around 1750.” While corn was more productive than the grains from native grasses, it required more water during cultivation. The agricultural surpluses and increased population enabled ambitious leaders such as Zwide of the Ndwandwe, Sobhuza I of the Ngwane, the Mthetwa under Dingiswayo, the Ngwane of Mathiwane, the Zulu under Senzangakhona, and the Hlubi of Mpangezitha to establish strong defensive states. By the end of the 18th century, the Zulus occupied much of their arable land. Declining rainfall and a ten year drought in the early 19th century set off a competition for land and water resources among the peoples of the area.According to Historians such as Max Gluckam, J.D Omer Cooper and J Guy, the Mfecane was largely due to the land shortages that existed due to the population explosion. The increased population required additional land which was not readily available as the tribes could not expand into the east west due to the Indian Ocean and…