Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince
by Luke W. Molver & Mason O'Conner
Forward by Mbongeni Malaba, Ph.D.
it is in the stars above us, and the sand beneath our feet...
it is in the clay of our homes...in our blood and our bones...
Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince by Luke W. Molver and Mason O'Connor introduces readers to the early life and ascent to power of the founder of the Zulu Kingdom.
Shaka was born in the 18th century, during the American Revolution and French Revolution. At that time small clans dotted the continent, vying for supremacy. Some chiefs sold conquered individuals to slave traders. With this practice, the southeast coast became "a wound” on Africa’s coastline. Shaka temporarily left the Zulu clan to serve as an army commander under the tutelage of King Dingiswayo. Through victorious battles and strategic planning, he defeated his competition and united the warring factions to create the Kingdom of the Zulu.
African society and Shaka receive even-handed treatment. Throughout the narrative, heroic feats contrast with glaring character flaws. This balance adds credibility to the account. Note: I'm still hurting over Shaka's insistence, despite her objections, that his sister must marry for political gain.
Several interesting visual devices bring the story to life. Setting the story within the context of a storyteller relating the legend to a group gathered around a fire is an excellent way to reinforce the importance of the African oral tradition. Hand and facial close-ups inset within the context of sweeping visual backgrounds highlight both the overall result, as well as the personal impact of key events. During intense battle scenes panels depart from the rectangular shape with diagonal frames.
Mbongeni Malaba's Forward places the story in context and provides the legend's academic foundation. An illustrated "cast of characters" is helpful in identifying key individuals.
Classrooms will appreciate the emphasis on the insightful ideas and the sets of discussion questions devoted to exploring the concepts of leadership, accuracy of historical accounts, the role of women, and social structures. A useful springboard for teachers who wish to expand their students' world view as well as provide opportunities for critical thinking.