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"Where's Shaka Zulu?": Shaka Zulu as an intervention in contemporary political discourse

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This article discusses some of the ideological fall-out of apartheid's discourse of ethnicity as enshrined in the television mini-series Shaka Zulu. After briefly reviewing the various ways that a range of participants in apartheid's final struggles either endorsed or criticized the series, a further look is taken at how, a decade after its first flighting, the series elicited some very different responses, some directly contradicting the earlier ones, from a few of the same sources. Given that the television image does refer to people and events that are part of the historical record, the article then continues to explore the adequacy of film and video as historical record. This is framed in terms of the distinctly different logical forms of historical inquiry and historical film narratives. These, in turn, are viewed along side the rather more practical logic of actual film production. The article concludes by suggesting that the production record of the Shaka Zulu genre of television or film can provide a logical grounding for understanding how producers, distributors and exhibitors of the product exploit the rhetoric of myth in the form of generally unspoken logical quantifiers that frame subsequent reception.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Graduate Programme in Cultural and Media Studies, University of Natal, Durban

Publication date: 01 October 2002

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