It is astonishing how history remembers or reflects on African heroes, great African men and women, which more often than not tend to mention them in comparison to the white man.
The narrative is usually fine-tuned in a manner that the African man is always hiding behind the shadow of a white man. Often, the white man is then elevated to a position depicting him as the savior of humanity while the African man is applauded for aspiring a height he never gets to as allegedly set by the white men.
More and more, African stories need to be told from an African perspective to the world. Africans need to start exhibiting that some levels of greatness that have rubbed off the rest of the world started in this continent.
Historical judgments of black men and women in different times fighting different regimes are often inaccurate. They are extremely partial and the result often with prejudice. When an African person is compared to a white person the African is deemed as nothing but a failure and will always be put below the white men.
African stories can and should only be compared against fellow Africans who had similar backgrounds and challenges as opposed to white people. In most cases, the white people brought the challenges the Africans had to conquer.
It’s worse when the comparison is done by someone who has never set foot on the African soil, with no idea of what setup was prevalent during the times in question. Without provocation, John Locke after his 1561 voyage to west Africa termed Africans as “Beasts without houses” this automatically creates a sentiment towards Africans who had been proclaimed as beasts thus falling short of the whites who were the only ones regarded as “human beings”.
Despite Shaka Zulu [1787 – 1828] and Napoleon Bonaparte [1769 – 1821] being contemporaries, the narrative of the former’s great leadership and military genius is placed behind that of the latter.
In his article titled “Shaka Zulu: Africa’s Napoleon?” Stephan Wilkinson notes that Shaka Zulu, “emerged from the thin air to lead his people to greatness. But while Shaka Zulu has been called the black Napoleon, he ultimately morphed into the 19th century Idi Amin.”
Don’t be misguided. Shaka Zulu did not emerge from thin air, he was a prophetic leader, he was a Savior to his people. The author’s disregard of these prominent elements in the rise of the great Zulu King is because of an obvious assumption of it being pure fallacy. The histories of prophecies and abracadabra that led to the rise of a great Zulu Empire seems to have been too much to consume for Mr. Wilkinson.
Furthermore, the mention of Idi Amin who is announced as a dictator and crazy tyrant is quite mind-blowing. Napoleon Bonaparte is referred to as a leader and greatness, but as the writer wants to view shaka as a tyrant the comparison is to that of a “Terrible African Dictator”.
The comparisons of Shaka Zulu as long as they are good are put behind the shadow of Napoleon but when there is a need to create a dark scenario of his reign the comparison shifts and moves many years after his demise to a black African man termed as anything but great.
Therefore, more in-depth research needs to be done in order to give readers the actual account of the stories of various great African statesmen during the pre and post-colonial era. Arguably, this continent has birthed legends and despite how toxic their stories might seem; these stories should be told in their purest form. There should not be a placement of the African in the shadows of white people. White historians try to juxtapose against them only to support in elevating the white person’s story.
Until a proper system has been in place there is a crucial need for Africans to champion and tell their own stories. This will entail telling the story in its plain form without the writer’s exaggeration in an attempt to make it more relatable to the intended audience.
Shaka Zulu was a leader of the prophecy, born in Untulikazi (July- also called the month of the prophecy). He assumed the throne of a clan with 1,500 people and 150sq.kms of territory. Within eleven years Shaka Zulu had built an empire with over 50,000 foot soldiers and was the ruler of most of the eastern seaboard and interior of modern-day South Africa. The structures set by Shaka Zulu have survived to this day. The Zulu lineage has continued and in modern South Africa is currently being led by King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu and is situated in the territory known as the province of KwaZulu Natal.