The historiography of the KwaMachi people: a frontier community between amaZulu and amaMpondo in the ninteenth century.
Cele, Nokuthula P.
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This article examines the establishment of the KwaMachi chieftaincy in Harding, on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal in the early nineteenth century. This province is often associated with popular notions of ethnic history that see all Africans living in KwaZulu-Natal as AmaZulu. This universal outlook not only fails to acknowledge the significance of the history of pre-Shakan communities, it also does not take into consideration borderland communities whose history has been shifting in time, and who should be understood in terms of their unique history. Analysis of the processes of community building in what became KwaZulu-Natal shows that it is often difficult to categorize people along a single ethnic line. People of various backgrounds in the region influenced the development of their own communities as well as the definition of “Zuluness”. Locating KwaMachi within this context, I argue on the basis of archival and oral research that official and rigid distinctions are not completely dominant due to ongoing interaction through migrations, creation and shifting of colonial boundaries, and marriages and other alliances, all of which clouded and undermined ethnic homogenization. Such distinctions rarely have been incorporated into the subject literature. The construction of Zulu identity in the KwaZulu-Natal province was thus not a fixed practice; it underwent various processes defined by social and political dynamics emerging at different times in history.