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The period 1840-1872 forms a watershed in Zulu political history.
It was the epoch that witnessed the rule of the longest reigning monarch in the history of the Zulu Kingdom, Mpande Ka Senzangakhona.
The increasingly altered circumstances under which Mpande had to rule, however, were foreshadowed by British colonial and Voortrekker establishments and intervention.
The consolidation of European domination over most of the subcontinent and the subsequent White settlement in Natal, exarcebated problems that Mpande had to face.
Mpande became an ambiguous and contested metaphorfor both genealogical inferiority and skilled diplomacy which, within historically shaped limits, could be used and re-worked by different commentators in a range of different circumstances.
Born in about 1798, King Mpande Ka Senzangakhona was the third in succession in the dynasty of 'martial' Zulu potentates whose military valour transformed small clans into a single powerful nation.
The evolvement of the ideal of nationhood among the Zulu people ruled by Mpande had its genesis in the praise poem of his father Senzangakhona Ka Jama.
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