Kingdoms and Chiefdoms of Southeastern Africa

Kingdoms and Chiefdoms of Southeastern Africa

Oral Traditions and History, 1400-1830

Elizabeth A. Eldredge


University of Rochester Press



Examines indigenous oral traditions and histories in order to explain the factors propelling sociopolitical consolidation and the emergence of chiefdoms and kingdoms in nineteenth-century southeastern Africa.
This study traces the social and political history of the peoples of early precolonial southeastern Africa, including the regions of modern KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, southern Mozambique from Maputo Bay southward, and Lesotho. The emergence in the early nineteenth century of well-known southern African kingdoms such as the AmaZulu, AmaSwazi, and BaSotho kingdoms was the culmination of centuries of sociopolitical developments, during which political control was consolidated in the ruling descent lines of small-scale chiefdoms. Providing the first comprehensive scholarly examination of recorded oral traditions from southeastern Africa, Eldredge's work chronicles the events and life stories propelling this consolidation and the advent of large-scale chiefdoms and kingdoms..

Elizabeth A. Eldredge is an independent scholar and author of The Creation of the Zulu Kingdom, 1815-1828: War, Shaka, and the Consolidation of Power.


May 2015
6 black and white illustrations
450 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora
ISBN: 9781580465144
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS001040, POL053000, SOC002010
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Table of Contents

History and Oral Traditions in Southeastern Africa
Oral Traditions in the Reconstruction of Southern African History
Shipwreck Survivor Accounts from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Founding Families and Chiefdoms East of the Drakensberg
Maputo Bay Peoples and Chiefdoms before 1740
Maputo Bay, 1740-1820
Eastern Chiefdoms of Southern Africa, 1740-1815
Zulu Conquests and the Consolidation of Power, 1815-21
Military Campaigns, Migrations, and Political Reconfiguration
Ancestors, Descent Lines, and Chiefdoms West of the Drakensberg before 1820
The Caledon River Valley and the BaSotho of Moshoeshoe, 1821-33
The Expansion of the European Presence at Maputo Bay, 1821-33
Southern African Kingdoms on the Eve of Colonization
Appendix A: AmaSwazi King List
Appendix B: Chronology of Conflicts, Migrations, and Political Reconfiguration East of the Drakensberg in the Era of Shaka
Appendix C: Interviewees from the James Stuart Collection of Oral Traditions


Elizabeth Eldredge's Kingdoms and Chieftains of Southeastern Africa is a valuable addition to an extensive corpus of writings examining indigenous state formation across the southern Bantu world. AFRICAN STUDIES QUARTERLY

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