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The Impact Of The Mfecane On The Cape Colony

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“The impact of the Mfecane on the Cape Colony,” dealt with the impact that the movement had on the lives of those included in the movement. These individuals were the Nguni- speaking and Sotho- speaking people of Southern Africa. The article points out how this movement brought upon major changes to the way these groups lived and the outcomes in the end.

Mashingaidze discusses how black- white relations between the Xhosa and the Dutch settlers was sometimes full of turmoil. In 1652, Jan van Riebeeck’s settlement at the Cape stretched northward which caused conflict with the blacks that were pushing their settlement towards the Cape. There was also conflict between the Nguni and Khoisan people because of stock- raiding by the San (Khoisan). Mashingaidze points out that another source of conflict was because even though the Fish River was considered a boundary by the Cape’s government, neither the colonists nor the Africans respected the bounds. Also, both group’s common interest in economic development and the arrival of Nguniland were also factored in the arising reasons for conflict.

The author briefly speaks on the hardships waged by the 1820s settlers. Financial burden, shortage of labor, volatile situation of the Eastern Frontier, and unskilled workers (the settlers) were some of the main problems stopping the settlers from advancing.

The author goes in depth on the beginning of the Mfecane movement. This was peculiar how it came down to one conflict between the Zwide’s Ndwandwe and Sobuza’s Ngwane that sparked the flame that was to become the Mfecane Movement. There is a lot of detail throughout the article which helps to give a good background knowledge of the events that followed.

Mashingaidze has a good way of depicting the information to where the reader can get a grasp of the main ideas. It lacks simplicity, though. The fact that there is a lot of information helps to set the background, but on the other hand it makes following the article (especially if you aren’t clear on the history) slightly difficult. This is only because for the amount of information he is trying to convey, twice as much elaboration is used.

He does a good job at looking at the movement from several different perspectives, which is unlike many writers. He shows how the different clans of Africans, such as the Zulu, Nguni fugitives, Ngwane felt the need to press the movement an how the Dutch and other settlers reacted to the attacks. He doesn’t have a bias to who was right or wrong or at least he doesn’t let it show in his work.

In conclusion, Mashingaidze’s article is very helpful in the understanding of the Mfecane movement. Even if one has to read it several time to grasps all the information. Without all the details the article would have had less of an impact on the teachings of this event (these events). His conclusion wrapped everything up nicely. By the reiteration on information in a concise form the article came to a great close. Nothing seems to have been left unsaid.

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