The story of Shaka Zulu (Black History 365)

In Southern Africa at the beginning of the 19th century, Shaka Zulu set up, propelled the Zulu Kingdom, and completely changed its warfare. 

In 1787 Shaka was born to Senzangakhona who was a minor chief of one of the clans of the Zulu tribe. His mother Nandi was the daughter of the rival clan chief Mbhengi. According to the Zulu people, Shaka’s birth was a sin because his parents did not belong to the same clans. Also, since Shaka was considered an illegitimate child, he was not named heir to the Zulu kingdom. When it comes to his name, Shaka translates to intestinal beetle. It can be quite funny when we in the west call him Shaka Zulu since Zulu means heaven in the Zulu language we are essentially calling him intestinal beetle heaven. So there’s that. 

Anyway, because of the ongoing frustrations and disapproval from tribal leaders, Shaka’s parents split. Shaka and his mother ran away from the clan of his father. This would ultimately end up with his mother and Shaka returning to her clan the Elangeni where she had been shunned. Growing up Shaka was often insulted, bullied, and disregarded, but as Shaka grew into adulthood, the members of the Elangeni clan remembered his determination and ferocity. Subsequently, when Shaka became sufficiently a man he left the Elangeni and became a citizen of the Mthethwa (Mtetwa) clan. 

Under the rule of Mthethwa (Mtetwa) chief Dingiswayo (Dingiswyo), Shaka operated as a six – year fighter. Dingiwayo (Dingiswyo) had been overwhelmed by Shaka’s courage, perseverance, and relentless determination to be at the top ranks of Mthethwa (Mtetwa). Shaka would stay with Mthethwa (Mtetwa) until 1816 when he heard about the death of his father Senzangakhona. 

With Dingiwayo’s (Dingiswyo) military support Shaka demanded to be given the title of chief that was previously held by his father. With the expertise of the Mthethwa (Mtetwa), he turned the army of his clan into a powerful military capable of protection and provocation by a greater symbolic force.

In 1818, Shaka’s mentor Dingiswayo (Dingiswyo) was by Zwide (Zwaydi), the head of the Ndwande (Nawandwe) clan. Shaka sought retribution in the Battle of Mhlatuze (Mylatheus) River in 1820, and won it with Zulu’s dominance over the Ndwande (Nawandwe). 

Afterwards, Shaka went to build a powerful empire for the various Zulu clans. In regards to this, the Zulu Empire numbered approximately 250,000, including rival groups, and its province became the largest in the history of Southern Africa. 

Shaka Zulu Painting by esther deVries | Saatchi Art

At the height of Shaka’s reign in 1827, he managed to control more than 50 thousand warriors and captured the majority of the region in the modern state of South Africa. 

All of Shaka’s strategic moves and actions were extremely strong and cruel. On the other hand, his army became unified under his control. His mother Nandi, died at the height of his power in 1827. Anger due to her death and her Elangeni’s care would result in the death of thousands of tribal people. This nearly directly led to his mutiny in the harsh treatment of his soldiers. 

Shaka Zulu was assassinated in 1828 by Dingane (Dingae) and Mhlangana (Mylanjana) , his half – brothers. Dingane (Dingae) took over the Empire that lasted half a hundred years before the British Army eventually collapsed. 

Shaka Zulu … feared king, innovative warrior and a legend of old - South  Coast Herald

Works cited :

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