Theophilus Shepstone and the Forging of Natal: African Autonomy and Settler Colonialism in the Making of Traditional Authority

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Theophilus Shepstone is recognised as one of the key figures in the history of colonial Africa. He is credited with developing some of the essential and widely copied features of colonial administration, including indirect rule, customary law and segregation. And yet he is also one of colonialism’s most enigmatic personalities: fighting for and against Africans and colonists, admired by some, hated by others, but hiding his thoughts and his feelings with an intimidating and silent public persona. In this book Jeff Guy uses biography and history to break this silence and examine the man and his politics as they evolved in the conflicted and violent history of colonial Natal. He questions long-established and widely held views of Shepstone and his policies, showing that unless he is placed firmly in the context of the histories of the Africans with whom he worked, he cannot be understood.