Multi-Histories: Creative and Narrative Plurality in Graphic Novels Exploring Indigenous Histories

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Pfunzo Sidogi


In this paper, I examine select graphic novels that narrativise intersecting histories by artists who possess distinct social positionalities and subjectivities. The first is Luke W Molver’s two-part graphic novel about King Shaka, Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince (2017) and King Shaka: Zulu Legend (2019). This epic illustrates King Shaka’s rise to power and his unmatched conquering pursuits that helped form the Zulu Kingdom. The second case study is Zinhle (Zhi) Zulu’s – hereafter Zhi Zulu – part-historical, part-futuristic graphic novel The Spiritual Adventures of Nandipha: Protector of the Zulu Kingdom (2019), which visually narrates the story of Nandipha, a superhero whose identity is inspired by King Shaka’s mother, Nandipha, and the influential women in Zhi Zulu’s life. I am specifically interested in how the positionalities of these two comic artists – Molver, a white man, on the one hand and on the other, Zhi Zulu, a black woman – influence their artistic approach, narrative arc, content selection, stylistics and overall treatment of indigenous Zulu histories. Using the notion of pluri- or multi-histories, I argue that these distinct but convergent comic book explorations of the interlinked lives of King Shaka and Nandipha are poignant artistic exemplars of how indigenous histories should always be retold in the plural.

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Author Biography

Pfunzo Sidogi, Tshwane University of Technology

Pfunzo Sidogi is a lecturer in the Department of Fine and Studio Arts, Faculty of Arts and Design at the Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. His latest books are Mihloti Ya Ntsako: Journeys with the Bongi Dhlomo Collection (Pretoria: Javett Art Centre, University of Pretoria, 2022) and The De-Africanization of African Art: Towards Post-African Aesthetics (New York: Routledge, 2021), which he co-edited with Denis Ekpo.