'How I Photographed Cetshwayo': Photography and the Spectacle of Exile in Colonial South Africa

Posted: 8 Feb 2020

Date Written: April 15, 2013

Abstract

The photographs taken of Cetshwayo once he was exiled from his kingdom have been reproduced and reprinted several times. As representations of the “Zulu king” prior to his visit to England, they also signal the moment at which Cetshwayo became an imperial celebrity. Moreover, as the leader of the Zulu kingdom, images of Cetshwayo were used to stand in for “Zuluness” in general. This paper will examine Cetshwayo’s relationship to the camera and to the photographers who took his portraits. Since these photographs were taken after 1879, they will be read as markers of the end of Zulu autonomy while also heralding and complementing the proliferation of the image of the “Zulu warrior”. The paper aims to offer insights into how Cetshwayo and “Zulus” became photographic subjects. Specifically, the dividing line between “elites” and “commoners” seems to have been blurred by photographic practice since all “Zulu” men became, through the power of the lens, warriors and all “warriors” became Zulu through the same medium.

Suggested Citation

Mokoena, Hlonipha, 'How I Photographed Cetshwayo': Photography and the Spectacle of Exile in Colonial South Africa (April 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2251364

Hlonipha Mokoena (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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