Following on Shaka Rising (2018), this volume further explores the legend of King Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation.
Much research has been done by South African Molver to trace the particulars of Shaka’s life from his birth in the 1780s until his death in 1828. Zulu culture was an oral one, passing down history through the telling of stories, which led to multiple versions of the truth even as the “ignorance or bias” of European written records was understood to be historical fact. Recognizing its own narrative as simply one telling of the story, this book focuses on the last decade of his reign, when external and internal threats challenged his prominence. There’s the arrival of conspiring European settlers and even a bit of nefarious plotting among the siblings who envy Shaka’s throne. Woven throughout are key terms from isiZulu, along with symbolism inherent to Zulu supernatural beliefs, giving readers a deeply contextual immersion in the cultural foundations of the Zulu people who today represent almost a quarter of South Africa’s population. The illustrations show stern and stalwart faces and display the brutal, inflamed action of war. The overwhelming global success of Marvel’s Black Panther is echoed in the final image, which, in opposition to the story’s historical specificity, feels generic and tame.
Authentically enlightening and entertaining. (historical notes, timeline, cultural and linguistic notes, discussion questions, glossary, pronunciation guide) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-18)