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Shaka kaSenzangakhona c.

Shaka Zulu's brutality was exaggerated, says new book

Shaka kaSenzangakhona c. He was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom, responsible for re-organizing the Zulu military into a formidable force via a series of wide-reaching and influential reforms. Spurned as an illegitimate son, Shaka spent his childhood in his mother's settlements, where he was initiated into an ibutho lempi fighting unit , serving as a warrior under Dingiswayo.

Shaka further refined the ibutho military system and, with the Mthethwa empire 's support over the next several years, forged alliances with his smaller neighbours to counter the growing threat from Ndwandwe raids from the north. The initial Zulu maneuvers were primarily defensive, as Shaka preferred to apply pressure diplomatically, with an occasional strategic assassination. His reforms of local society built on existing structures. Although he preferred social and propagandistic political methods, he also engaged in a number of battles.

He was ultimately assassinated by his half brothers Dingane and Mhlangana. When Senzangakhona Shaka's father died in , Shaka's younger half-brother Sigujana assumed power as the legitimate heir to the Zulu chiefdom. Sigujana's reign was short, however, as Dingiswayo , anxious to confirm his authority, lent Shaka a regiment so that he was able to put Sigujana to death, launching a relatively bloodless coup that was substantially accepted by the Zulu.

When the Mthethwa forces were defeated and scattered temporarily, the power vacuum was filled by Shaka. He reformed the remnants of the Mthethwa and other regional tribes and later defeated Zwide in the Zulu Civil War of — When Dingiswayo was murdered by Zwide, Shaka sought to avenge his death.

At some point, Zwide barely escaped Shaka, though the exact details are not known. Shaka chose a particularly gruesome revenge on her, locking her in a house and placing jackals or hyenas inside: they devoured her and, in the morning, Shaka burned the house to the ground.

Despite carrying out this revenge, Shaka continued his pursuit of Zwide. It was not until around that the two military leaders met, near Phongola , in their final meeting. Shaka was victorious in battle, although his forces sustained heavy casualties, which included his head military commander, Umgobhozi Ovela Entabeni. In the initial years, Shaka had neither the influence nor reputation to compel any but the smallest of groups to join him, and upon Dingiswayo's death, Shaka moved southwards across the Thukela River , establishing his capital Bulawayo in Qwabe territory; he never did move back into the traditional Zulu heartland.

In Qwabe, Shaka may have intervened in an existing succession dispute to help his own choice, Nqetho, into power.

As Shaka became more respected by his people, he was able to spread his ideas with greater ease. Because of his background as a soldier, Shaka taught the Zulus that the most effective way of becoming powerful quickly was by conquering and controlling other tribes.

His teachings greatly influenced the social outlook of the Zulu people. The Zulu tribe soon developed a warrior outlook, which Shaka turned to his advantage. Shaka's hegemony was primarily based on military might, smashing rivals and incorporating scattered remnants into his own army.

He supplemented this with a mixture of diplomacy and patronage, incorporating friendly chieftains, including Zihlandlo of the Mkhize, Jobe of the Sithole, and Mathubane of the Thuli. These peoples were never defeated in battle by the Zulu; they did not have to be. Shaka won them over by subtler tactics, such as patronage and reward. As for the ruling Qwabe, they began re-inventing their genealogies to give the impression that Qwabe and Zulu were closely related in the past.

Shaka still recognised Dingiswayo and his larger Mthethwa clan as overlord after he returned to the Zulu but, some years later, Dingiswayo was ambushed by Zwide's Ndwandwe and killed. There is no evidence to suggest that Shaka betrayed Dingiswayo.

Indeed, the core Zulu had to retreat before several Ndwandwe incursions; the Ndwandwe was clearly the most aggressive grouping in the sub-region. Shaka was able to form an alliance with the leaderless Mthethwa clan and was able to establish himself amongst the Qwabe, after Phakathwayo was overthrown with relative ease.

With Qwabe, Hlubi and Mkhize support, Shaka was finally able to summon a force capable of resisting the Ndwandwe of the Nxumalo clan. Shaka's troops maintained a strong position on the crest of the hill. A frontal assault by their opponents failed to dislodge them, and Shaka sealed the victory by sending his reserve forces in a sweep around the hill to attack the enemy's rear.

Losses were high overall but the efficiency of the new Shakan innovations was proven. It is probable that, over time, the Zulu were able to hone and improve their encirclement tactics.

Another decisive fight eventually took place on the Mhlatuze river, at the confluence with the Mvuzane stream. In a two-day running battle, the Zulu inflicted a resounding defeat on their opponents. Zwide himself escaped with a handful of followers before falling foul of a chieftainess named Mjanji, ruler of a Babelu clan. Zwide's general Soshangane of the Shangaan moved north towards what is now Mozambique to inflict further damage on less resistant foes and take advantage of slaving opportunities, obliging Portuguese traders to give tribute.

Shaka later had to contend again with Zwide's son Sikhunyane in Shaka granted permission to Europeans to enter Zulu territory on rare occasions. In the mids Henry Francis Fynn provided medical treatment to the king after an assassination attempt by a rival tribe member hidden in a crowd see account of Nathaniel Isaacs. Shaka observed several demonstrations of European technology and knowledge, but he held that the Zulu way was superior to that of the foreigners. Dingane and Mhlangana , Shaka's half-brothers, appear to have made at least two attempts to assassinate Shaka before they succeeded, with perhaps support from Mpondo elements and some disaffected iziYendane people.

Shaka had made enough enemies among his own people to hasten his demise. It came relatively quickly after the death of his mother Nandi in October , and the devastation caused by Shaka's subsequent erratic behaviour.

According to Donald Morris, Shaka ordered that no crops should be planted during the following year of mourning, no milk the basis of the Zulu diet at the time was to be used, and any woman who became pregnant was to be killed along with her husband. At least 7, people who were deemed to be insufficiently grief-stricken were executed, although the killing was not restricted to humans: cows were slaughtered so that their calves would know what losing a mother felt like. The Zulu monarch was killed by three assassins sometime in ; September is the most frequently cited date, when almost all available Zulu manpower had been sent on yet another mass sweep to the north.

This left the royal kraal critically lacking in security. It was all the conspirators needed—they being Shaka's half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana, and an iNduna called Mbopa. A diversion was created by Mbopa, and Dingane and Mhlangana struck the fatal blows. Shaka's corpse was dumped by his assassins in an empty grain pit, which was then filled with stones and mud.

The exact location is unknown. A monument was built at one alleged site. Shaka's half-brother Dingane assumed power and embarked on an extensive purge of pro-Shaka elements and chieftains, running over several years, in order to secure his position.

The initial problem Dingane faced was maintaining the loyalty of the Zulu fighting regiments, or amabutho. He addressed this by allowing them to marry and set up homesteads which was forbidden during Shaka's rule and they also received cattle from Dingane. Loyalty was also maintained through fear, as anyone who was suspected of rivaling Dingane was killed. He set up his main residence at Mmungungundlovo and established his authority over the Zulu kingdom.

Some older histories have doubted the military and social innovations customarily attributed to Shaka, denying them outright, or attributing them variously to European influences. Shaka is often said to have been dissatisfied with the long throwing assegai , and is credited with having introduced a new variant of the weapon: the iklwa , a short stabbing spear with a long, broad, and sword-like, spearhead.

Though Shaka probably did not invent the iklwa , according to Zulu scholar John Laband , the leader did insist that his warriors train with the weapon, which gave them a "terrifying advantage over opponents who clung to the traditional practice of throwing their spears and avoiding hand-to-hand conflict. It is also supposed that Shaka introduced a larger, heavier version of the Nguni shield.

Furthermore, it is believed that he taught his warriors how to use the shield's left side to hook the enemy's shield to the right, exposing the enemy's ribs for a fatal spear stab. In Shaka's time, these cowhide shields were supplied by the king, and they remained the king's property. Some had black shields, others used white shields with black spots, and some had white shields with brown spots, while others used pure brown or white shields. The story that sandals were discarded to toughen the feet of Zulu warriors has been noted in various military accounts such as The Washing of the Spears, Like Lions They Fought, and Anatomy of the Zulu Army.

Implementation was typically blunt. Those who objected to going without sandals were simply killed. Historian John Laband dismisses these stories as myth, writing: "What are we to make, then, of [European trader Henry Francis] Fynn's statement that once the Zulu army reached hard and stony ground in , Shaka ordered sandals of ox-hide to be made for himself?

They spent two whole days recuperating in one instance, and on another they rested for a day and two nights before pursuing their enemy. Boys and girls aged six and over joined Shaka's force as apprentice warriors udibi and served as carriers of rations , supplies like cooking pots and sleeping mats, and extra weapons until they joined the main ranks. It is sometimes held that such support was used more for very light forces designed to extract tribute in cattle and slaves from neighbouring groups.

Nevertheless, the concept of "light" forces is questionable. The fast-moving Zulu raiding party, or "ibutho lempi," on a mission invariably travelled light, driving cattle as provisions on the hoof, and were not weighed down with heavy weapons and supply packs. Age-grade groupings of various sorts were common in the Bantu culture of the day, and indeed are still important in much of Africa.

Age grades were responsible for a variety of activities, from guarding the camp, to cattle herding, to certain rituals and ceremonies. Shaka organised various grades into regiments , and quartered them in special military kraals, with regiments having their own distinctive names and insignia. The regimental system clearly built on existing tribal cultural elements that could be adapted and shaped to fit an expansionist agenda.

Most historians [ who? Shaka created ruthless determination in his army by instilling in his warriors the knowledge of what would happen if their courage failed them in battle or their regiments were defeated. A brutal fate awaited them and their families if they did not perform well in combat.

Rider Haggard learned about Shaka's methods from his great nephew and late 19th-century Zulu king, Cetshwayo kaMpande :. As [Shaka] conquered a tribe, he enrolled its remnants in his army, so that they might in their turn help to conquer others. He armed his regiments with the short stabbing Iklwa , instead of the throwing assegai which they had been accustomed to use, and kept them subject to an iron discipline. If a man was observed to show the slightest hesitation about coming to close quarters with the enemy, he was executed as soon as the fight was over.

If a regiment had the misfortune to be defeated, whether by its own fault or not, it would on its return to headquarters find that a goodly proportion of the wives and children belonging to it had been beaten to death on [Shaka]'s orders, and that he was waiting their arrival to complete his vengeance by dashing out their brains. The result was, that though [Shaka]'s armies were occasionally annihilated, they were rarely defeated, and they never ran away. The expanding Zulu power inevitably clashed with European hegemony in the decades after Shaka's death.

In fact, European travellers to Shaka's kingdom demonstrated advanced technology such as firearms and writing, but the Zulu monarch was less than convinced. There was no need to record messages, he held, since his messengers stood under penalty of death should they bear inaccurate tidings. As for firearms, Shaka acknowledged their utility as missile weapons after seeing muzzle-loaders demonstrated, but he argued that in the time a gunman took to reload, he would be swamped by charging spear-wielding warriors.

The first major clash after Shaka's death took place under his successor Dingane, against expanding European Voortrekkers from the Cape. Initial Zulu success rested on fast-moving surprise attacks and ambushes, but the Voortrekkers recovered and dealt the Zulu a severe defeat from their fortified wagon laager at the Battle of Blood River. The second major clash was against the British during

Shaka Zulu (1787-1828)

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Shaka , also spelled Chaka or Tshaka , born c. He is credited with creating a fighting force that devastated the entire region. His life is the subject of numerous colourful and exaggerated stories, many of which are debated by historians. Shaka was a Zulu chief —28 and the founder of the Zulu empire in Southern Africa. Shaka was the son of Senzangakona, chieftain of the Zulu , and Nandi, an orphaned princess of the neighbouring Langeni clan.

Conclusion

By John Laband. In Eight Zulu Kings , well-respected and widely published historian John Laband examines the reigns of the eight Zulu kings from to the present. In the course of this investigation Laband places the Zulu monarchy in the context of African kingship and tracks and analyses the trajectory of the Zulu kings from independent and powerful pre-colonial African rulers to largely powerless traditionalist figures in post-apartheid South Africa. Thirty-five years ago I witnessed a spectacle of potent symbolism. In Cetshwayo had ordered the construction of oNdini, envisioned as his principal ikhanda , in the thorn-bush country of the Mahlabathini plain on the northern banks of the White Mfolozi River, right in the heart of the Zulu kingdom.

Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. DOI: Eldredge Published Engineering. Elizabeth A Eldredge is an independent scholar whose publications include: A South African kingdom: The pursuit of security in the nineteenth-century Lesotho and Power in colonial Africa: Conflict and discourse in Lesotho,

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The Creation of the Zulu Kingdom, 1815-1828: War, Shaka, and the Consolidation of Power

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Sigidi kaSenzangakhona commonly knows as Shaka was a great Zulu king and conqueror. He lived in an area of south-east Africa between the Drakensberg and the Indian Ocean, a region populated by many independent Nguni chiefdoms. During his brief reign more than a hundred chiefdoms were brought together in a Zulu kingdom which survived not only the death of its founder but later military defeat and calculated attempts to break it up. Shaka was a son of Senzangakhona, ruler of an insignificant small chiefdom, the Zulu. His mother was Nandi, the daughter of a Langeni chief.

Kwamlah, Johnson. MINA ngizoqala ngibonge ku mfoka Mavuso ngokuthi aqaphele amagalelo abantu besimame nokuyinto thina lapha kwa Zulu ikakhulukazi esingavamile ukuthi siyikhathalele ukuthi siyenze. Nxumalo, Executive Councillor for Education and Culture in the KwaZulu Government, and presented to him on She has little individuality, no name is given for her. Vultures — Chinua Achebe 7. Hons Communication B.

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When Shaka became chief of the Zulus in , the tribe numbered fewer than 1, and was among the smaller of the hundreds of other tribes in southern Africa. However, Shaka proved a brilliant military organizer, forming well-commanded regiments and arming his warriors with assegais, a new type of long-bladed, short spear that was easy to wield and deadly. The Zulus rapidly conquered neighboring tribes, incorporating the survivors into their ranks.

Shaka Zulu assassinated

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Gaby C. 20.06.2021 at 03:46

Shaka Zulu, the 19th-century warrior king dubbed Africa's Napoleon, was not the bloodthirsty military genius of historical depiction, says new research.

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