Nomalanga Mkhize: In Search of Native Dissidence

In a 2018 article published in International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, Nomalanga Mkhize presented an analysis of R.T. Kawa’s 1929 book Ibali lamaMfengu. Mkhize argued that Ibali lamaMfengu made an important contribution to Mfecane historiography, but that it was nevertheless rejected by the white-dominated academies. As Mkhize outlined, Ibali lamaMfengu made three contributions to the historiography: it examined who the Mfengu refugees in the Eastern Cape region were; what their status was among the Gcalek-Xhosa groups; and why they allied with the British in 1835 against the Xhosa. Notably, Kawa’s arguments deviated from those made by John Ayliff and Joseph Whiteside, who addressed the same questions in their 1912 book History of the Abambo. According to Mkhize, Ibali lamaMfengu was a critique of colonial writing and missionary perspectives on Mfengu history. Mkhize further argued that “mainstream” scholars’ failure to examine Kawa’s work raises questions about the lack of systematic engagement with African writers and vernacular texts generally. She noted that Kawa’s contribution was ignored by Julian Cobbing’s anti-Mfecane thesis. Mkhize concluded that more scholarship on African historiographies is necessary.

Relevant Works

Ayliff, John and Joseph Whiteside. History of the Abambo: Generally Known as Fingos. Fingoland (Cape Colony): Butterworth “Gazette”, 1912.

Cobbing, Julian. “The Mfecane as Alibi: Thoughts on Dithakong and Mbolompo”. The Journal of African History 29, no. 3 (1988), 487-519.

Kawa, Richard Tainton. Ibali LamaMfengu. Alice: Lovedale Press, 1929.

Maxengana, N. S. “Impact of Missionary Activities and the Establishment of Victoria East, 1824–1860.” MA dissertation, University of Fort Hare, 2012.

Mkhize, Nomalanga. “In Search of Native Dissidence: RT Kawa’s Mfecane Historiography in Ibali lamaMfengu (1929)”. International Journal of African Renaissance Studies – Multi-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity 13, no. 2 (2018), 92-111.

Online from: 31 Aug 2021