Journal on Policy & Complex Systems Volume 2, Number 1, Spring 2015 - Page 47

Policy and Complex Systems - Volume 2 Number 1 - Spring 2015 A Complex Adaptive Systems Analysis of Shaka Zulu and the Mfecane Chris NewmanA This paper applies Complex Adaptive Systems methodology to the historic period, specifically in a case study to explain the mfecane and its relationship to the development and operation of the Zulu nation under Shaka, an example of a revolution and rebellion by a great leader of previously obscure group. Such a revolt involves the leader 1) rising from personal obscurity and powerlessness to control his group; and then 2) expanding the power and control of his group to dominate his region. Keywords: Zulu, mfecane, Africa, increase, population T his paper proposes to apply complex adaptive systems (CAS) methodology to the historic period, specifically in a case study to explain the Mfecane and its relationship to the development and operation of the Zulu nation under Shaka. The rise of the Zulu nation under Shaka is an example of a category of revolution and rebellion by a great leader of previously obscure group. Such a revolt involves the leader (1) rising from personal obscurity and powerlessness to control his group; and then (2) expanding the power and control of his group to dominate his region. Shaka Zulu is one of a number of successful leaders of previously obscure groups to a widespread domination; others include Brian Boru and Temujin/Genghis Khan (Ryan, 1967). Unsuccessful leaders of previously obscure groups include False Dmitrii I; Pancho Villa; Pugachev the Pretender; and Stenka Razin (Dunning, 2003; Longworth, 1973, 1975; Reid, 1981). The appearance of such a leader of such a group, to say nothing of a rise to dominance by that group, would satisfy John Holland’s A definition of emergence “much coming from little” which he characterizes as a hallmark of CAS (Holland, 1998, p. 1). Holland (1998) goes on to note that emergence is a non-linear result of “coupled, contextdependent interactions” leading to the standard test for emergence: “The behavior of the overall system cannot be obtained by summing the behaviors of its constituent parts” (p. 122). Throughout history, there have been many disenfranchised and marginalized groups. There have been many alienated outcasts. There have even been individuals representing the intersection of those two sets. It is rare, however, that an outcast mobilizes a marginalized group to contend for power and still rarer that the combination results in primacy. The paper proposes to use a complex adaptive systems (CAS) modeling technique to illustrate and analyze the process of, the nature of, and even the existence of the Mfecane—a cascade of war and migration in Southern Africa in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Specifically, the paper proposes to use a form of system Elgin Community College 10.18278/jpcs.2.1.6 45