Shaka epic born anew, in isiZulu

One of the principal functions of uNodumehlezi kaMenzi, the late Professor Mazisi Kunene’s original isiZulu manuscript for his widely translated epic poem Emperor Shaka the Great, is in how it reframes Shaka’s humanity away from the colonial image of the savage despot.

“Shaka was a philosopher king who took on great nations,” says Mazisi Kunene Foundation trustee John Charter. “In Isandlwana he did that.”

Charter’s emphasis on Isandlwana, a battle that saw Shaka’s Zulu army defeat a British colonial army, is clearly coloured by his English roots.

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