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Encyclopedia > Shaka
Shaka

Only known drawing of Shaka standing with the long throwing assegai and the heavy shield in 1824 - four years before his death
Born c. 1787
Died 22 September 1828

Shaka (sometimes spelled Tshaka, Tchaka or Chaka; ca. 1787 – ca. 22 September 1828) was the most influential leader of the Zulu Empire. Shaka may refer to: Shaka, leader of the Zulu Nation in the early 19th century Shaka Zulu, a TV miniseries about the Zulu leader Shaka sign, a Hawaiian hand signal Category: ... Image File history File links KingShaka. ... An Askari guards an Allied air training school at Waterkloof, Pretoria, South Africa. ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1828 (MDCCCXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a leap year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... is the 265th day of the year (266th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1828 (MDCCCXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a leap year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...


He is widely credited with uniting the Zulu sub-tribes into the beginnings of a nation that held sway over the large portion of Southern Africa between the Phongolo and Mzimkhulu rivers. His military prowess and destructiveness have been widely credited. He has been called a military genius for his reforms and innovations[1], though other writers take a more limited view of his achievements. Nevertheless, his statesmanship and vigour in assimilating some neighbours and ruling by proxy marks him as one of the greatest Zulu chieftains. The Pongola River is a river in South Africa. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Contents

History and legacy

At the time of his death, Shaka ruled over 250,000 people and could muster more than 50,000 warriors. His 10-year-long kingship had resulted in more than 2 million deaths by warfare alone, not counting the deaths during mass tribal migrations to escape his armies.[1]


Shaka was probably the first son of the chieftain Senzangakhona and Nandi, a daughter of Bhebhe, the past chief of the Elangeni tribe, born near present-day Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal Province. He was conceived out of wedlock somewhere between 1781 and 1787. Some accounts state that he was disowned by his father (Tabile Raziya) and chased into exile. Others maintain that his parents married normally. Shaka almost certainly spent his childhood in his father's settlements. He is recorded as having been initiated there and inducted into an ibutho or 'age-group regiment'. In his early days, Shaka served as a warrior under the sway of local chieftain Dingiswayo and the Mthethwa, to whom the Zulu were then paying tribute. Senzangakona (ca. ... Nandi (c. ... KwaZulu-Natal, often referred to as KZN, is a province of South Africa. ... 1781 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Year 1787 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... -1... The Mtetwa Empire was a kingdom that arose in the 1700s south of Delagoa Bay and inland in eastern southern Africa. ...


Dingiswayo called up the emDlatsheni iNtanga (age-group), of which Shaka was part, and incorporated it in the iziCwe regiment. Shaka served as a Mthethwa warrior for perhaps as long as ten years, and distinguished himself with his courage, though he did not, as legend has it, rise to great position. Dingiswayo, having himself been exiled after a failed attempt to oust his father, had, along with a number of other groups in the region (including Mabhudu, Dlamini, Mkhize, Qwabe, and Ndwandwe, many probably responding to slaving pressures from southern Mozambique) helped develop new ideas of military and social organisation, in particular the ibutho, sometimes translated as 'regiment'; it was rather an age-based labour gang which included some better-refined military activities, but by no means exclusively. Most battles before this time were to settle disputes, and while the appearance of the impi (fighting unit) dramatically changed warfare at times, it largely remained a matter of seasonal raiding, political pressures rather than outright slaughter. Of particular importance here is the relationship which Shaka and Dingiswayo had. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Ndwandwe clan are a subgroup of the Nguni people who populate sections of Southern Africa. ... An Impi is an isiZulu word for any armed body of men. ...


European entrance into the Zulu nation was granted by Shaka under a rare occasion. H.F. Fynn, noted earlier for his report on Shaka Zulu, provided medical treatment to the king after a battle. To show his gratitude, Shaka permitted European settlers to enter and operate in the Zulu kingdom. This would open the door for future British incursions into the Zulu kingdom that were not so peaceful. Shaka did clearly make an attempt at understanding the European way of life.


The Europeans, however, made little early efforts to understand Shaka. The Zulu king maintained a mysterious but powerful presence both in the Zulu Kingdom and in the European colonies throughout his rule. This allowed the Zulu Revolution to, unlike European revolutions, not be based in ideas of individualism or freedom of the citizen, but in ideals that were wholeheartedly African. Such notions, especially those of Shaka, were not transferable to the European mind.


On the death of Senzangakona, Dingiswayo aided Shaka to defeat his brother and assume leadership in around 1812. Shaka began to refine the ibutho system further, used by Dingiswayo and others, and with Mthethwa's support over the next several years forged alliances with his smaller neighbours, mostly to counter the growing threat from Ndwandwe raiding from the north. The initial Zulu manoeuvres were defensive and offensive, and mostly Shaka preferred to intervene or pressure diplomatically, aided by just a few judicious assassinations. His changes to local society built on existing structures, and were as much social and propagandistic as they were military; there were a number of battles, as the Zulu sources make clear. Senzangakona (ca. ... -1... For the overture by Tchaikovsky, see 1812 Overture; For the wars, see War of 1812 (USA - United Kingdom) or Patriotic War of 1812 (France - Russia) For the Siberia Airlines plane crashed over the Black Sea on October 4, 2001, see Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 1812 was a leap year starting...


Later Dingiswayo was murdered by Zwide, a powerful chief of the Ndwandwe (Nxumalo) clan. Shaka took it upon himself to avenge Dingiswayo's blood. At some point Zwide barely escaped Shaka, though the exact details are not known. In that encounter Zwide's mother, a Sangoma (Zulu word for a seer, more than it is a traditional doctor; this person can consult the spirits of the dead, cast spells, bewitch, heal and many others) was killed by Shaka. Shaka chose a particularly gruesome revenge on Zwide's mother, 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 was still eager to kill Zwide. It was not until around 1825 that the two great military men would meet, near Phongola, in what would be their final meeting. Phongola is near the present day border of KwaZulu-Natal, a province in South Africa. The victory went to Shaka, however he sustained heavy casualties and lost his head military commander - Umgobhozi Ovela Entabeni. King Zwide was the chief of the Ndwandwe clan from about 1805 to around 1820. ... A sangoma is a practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counselling in traditional Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi) societies of Southern Africa (effectively an African shaman). ... Year 1825 (MDCCCXXV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... KwaZulu-Natal (often referred to as KZN) is a province of South Africa. ...


In the initial years, Shaka had neither the clout nor the kudos to compel any but the smallest of groups to join him, and he operated under Dingiswayo's aegis until the latter's death at the hands of Zwide's Ndwandwe. At this point Shaka moved southwards across the Thukela River, establishing his capital Bulawayo in Qwabe territory. He never did personally move back into the traditional Zulu heartland. In Qwabe, Shaka may have intervened in an existing succession dispute, and help his own choice, Nqetho, into power; Nqetho then ruled as a proxy chieftain for Shaka. The Tugela River (also known as Thukela) is the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. ...


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 of patronage and reward. The ruling Qwabe, for example, began re-inventing their genealogies to give the impression that Qwabe and Zulu were closely related in the past -a handy fiction. In this way a greater sense of cohesion was created, though it never became complete, as subsequent civil wars attest. Sigujana was killed, the coup was relatively bloodless and accepted by the Zulu. 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 amaNdwandwe and killed. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Shaka had betrayed Dingiswayo. Indeed, the core Zulu had to retreat before several Ndwandwe incursions; the Ndwandwe were clearly the most aggressive grouping in the sub-region. ... -1... The Mtetwa Empire was a kingdom that arose in the 1700s south of Delagoa Bay and inland in eastern southern Africa. ... Languages Zulu Religions Christian, African Traditional Religion Related ethnic groups Bantu Nguni Basotho Xhosa Swazi Matabele Khoisan The Zulu (South African English and isiZulu: amaZulu) are a South African ethnic group of an estimated 17-22 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. ...


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 without much of a fight, if any. With Qwabe, Hlubi and Mkhize support, Shaka was finally able to summon a force capable of resisting the Ndwandwe (of the Nxumalo clan). Historians like Donald Morris (Washing of the Spears) state that Shaka's first major battle against Zwide of the Ndwandwe was the Battle of Gqokli Hill, on the Mfolozi river. 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 elements in a sweep around the hill to attack the enemy's rear. Losses were high overall, but the efficacy of the new Shakan innovations was proved. It is probable that over time, the Zulu were able to hone and improve their encirclement tactics. King Zwide was the chief of the Ndwandwe clan from about 1805 to around 1820. ... The Ndwandwe clan are a subgroup of the Nguni people who populate sections of Southern Africa. ... The Battle of Gqokli Hill was conducted in 1818, a part of the Zulu Civil War, between Shaka of the Zulu nation and Zwide of the Ndwandwe, in Shakas territory. ...


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. Shaka then led a fresh reserve some seventy miles to Ndwandwe ruler Zwide's royal kraal, and destroyed it. Zwide himself escaped with a handful of followers, before falling foul of a chieftainess named Mjanji, ruler of the baPedi clan. He died in mysterious circumstances shortly after. Shaka's general Soshangane (of the Shangaan) moved off north towards what is now Mozambique, to inflict further damage on less resistant foes and take advantage of slaving opportunities, causing Portuguese traders to give tribute. Shaka later had to contend again with Zwide's son, Sikhunyane, in 1826. A South African cattle kraal (Photo by Richard Jones) Kraal (also spelt craal or kraul) is an Afrikaans and South African English word for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within an African homestead or village surrounded by a palisade, mud wall, or other fencing, roughly circular in... Rje 00:33, August 23, 2005 (UTC) Categories: Possible copyright violations ... The Shangaan (Vatsonga or Vitsonga) are a large group of people living mainly in southern Mozambique in Maputo and in Gaza Province; there is also a large Shangaan grouping in Limpopo Province in South Africa. ...


Death and succession

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. While the British colonialists considered his regime to be a future threat, allegations that white traders wished his death are problematic given that Shaka had granted concessions to whites prior to his death, including the right to settle at Port Natal (now Durban). Shaka had made enough enemies among his own people to hasten his demise. It came relatively quickly after the devastation caused by Shaka's erratic behavior after the death of his mother Nandi. According to "The Washing of the Spears" by Donald R. Morris and Mangosuthu Chief Buthelezi, in this mourning period, Shaka ordered that no crops should be planted during the following year, no milk (the basis of the Zulu diet at the time) was to be used, and any woman who became pregnant would be killed along with her husband. Massacres were carried out of those deemed insufficiently grief-stricken (though it wasn't restricted to them) and cows were slaughtered so that their calves would know what losing a mother felt like. Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu (ca. ... Umthlangana (? - 1828) (also known as Mahlangane ?) was a Zulu prince - the son of Senzangakona, a brother of Shaka, and half-brother of Dingane and Mpande. ... Jack Ruby murdered the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, in a very public manner. ... Durban is a vibrant cosmopolitian city in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. ... For other uses, see Durban (disambiguation). ...


The Zulu monarch was killed by three assassins sometime in 1828, (September is the most often 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 short of security. It was all the conspirators needed- 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. Film and book portrayals of dramatic pre-death speeches by Shaka warning of future European imperialism lack credibility,[citation needed] as do stories of colorful and impressive burial ceremonies. In reality, Shaka's corpse was dumped into an empty grain pit by his assassins and filled with stones and mud. The exact site is unknown. Historian Donald Morris holds that it is somewhere on Couper Street in the village of Stanger, South Africa. InDuna (plural: izinDuna) is a Zulu title meaning advisor, great leader, ambassador, headman, or commander of group of warriors. ... KwaDukuza (also called Stanger) is a historic capital of the Zulus. ...


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. A virtual civil war broke out. Dingane ruled for some twelve years, during which time he fought, disastrously, against the Voortrekkers, and against another half-brother Mpande, who with Boer and British support, took over the Zulu leadership in 1840, and ruled for some 30 years. Later in the 19th century the Zulus would be one of the few African peoples who managed to defeat the British Army (at the Battle of Isandlwana). This article is about the definition of the specific type of war. ... The Voortrekkers (Afrikaans for pioneers, literally those who move ahead or first/forward traveler) were white Afrikaner farmers, then known as Boers, who in the 1830s and 1840s emigrated during a series of mass movements of a number of separate trekking contingents under different leaders in what is called the... 1840 is a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Languages Zulu Religions Christian, African Traditional Religion Related ethnic groups Bantu Nguni Basotho Xhosa Swazi Matabele Khoisan The Zulu (South African English and isiZulu: amaZulu) are a South African ethnic group of an estimated 17-22 million people who live mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. ... The British Army is the land armed forces branch of the British Armed Forces. ... Combatants Britain Zulu Nation Commanders Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine† Anthony Durnford† Ntshingwayo Khoza Strength 1,400 men 22,000 men Casualties 52 officers killed 1,277 other ranks killed 3,000 killed 3,000 wounded The Battle of Isandlwana was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War in which...


Shaka's social and military revolution

Some revisionists have doubted the military and social innovations customarily attributed to Shaka, denying them outright, or attributing them variously to European influences. Others argue that both explanations fall short, and in fact the Zulu culture which included other tribes and clans, contained a number of practices that Shaka could have drawn on to fulfill his objectives- whether in raiding, conquest or hegemony. Some of these practices are shown below.


Weapons changes

Shaka is often said to have been dissatisfied with the long throwing assegai, and credited with introducing a new variant of the weapon—the Iklwa, a short stabbing spear, with a long, sword like spearhead. It was named, allegedly, for the sound made as it went in, then out, of the body. Shaka is also supposed to have introduced a larger, heavier shield made of cowhide and to have taught each warrior how to use the shield's left side to hook the enemy's shield to the right, exposing his ribs for a fatal spear stab. The throwing spear was not discarded, but used as an initial missile weapon, until the impis closed with the enemy, hand to hand[citation needed]. An Askari guards an Allied air training school at Waterkloof, Pretoria, South Africa. ... An assegai or assagai (from Berber as-zahayah, through Portuguese azagaia) is a weapon for throwing or hurling, a light spear or javelin made of wood and pointed with iron, particularly the spear used by the Zulu and other tribes tribes of southern Africa. ... This article is about the defensive device. ... The human rib cage. ...


Introduction of a shorter stabbing spear area makes practical sense if an attack is to be pressed home, versus ritualized stand-off encounters involving throwing spears, as is the use of a larger shield in such close quarters combat.


Greater mobility via sandal-less feet, constant drill and forced marches

The story that sandals were discarded to toughen the feet of his men may or may not be accurate but the bare feet of many Zulu warriors has been noted in various military accounts. (See Donald Morris "The Washing of the Spears" or Edgerton's "Like Lions They Fought" or Ian Knight's "Anatomy of the Zulu Army"). Implementation was typically blunt. Those who objected to going without sandals were simply killed, a practice that quickly concentrated the minds of remaining personnel. Shaka drilled his troops frequently, implementing forced marches sometimes covering more than fifty miles a day in a fast trot over hot, rocky terrain. He also drilled the troops to carry out encirclement tactics. “Miles” redirects here. ...


Well-organised logistic support by youth formations

Young boys from the age of six up 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, women or young men from neighbouring groups. Nevertheless, the concept of "light" forces is questionable. The fast-moving Zulu raiding party or impi on a mission did travel "light", driving cattle as provisions on the hoof and were not weighed down with heavy weapon and supply packs. The herdboy logistic structure was deployed in support of such activities, and was easily adaptable, whether the force was numerous ("heavy") or simply light to carry on anything. If youre looking for the TV show, see The Apprentice. ... Rationing is the controlled distribution of resources and scarce goods or services: it restricts how much people are allowed to buy or consume. ...


The age-grade regimental system

Age-grade groupings of various sorts were common in the Bantu tribal 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 organized various grades into regiments, and quartered them in special military kraals, with each regiment having its 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[citation needed]. There was no need to look for European inspiration hundreds of miles away. In sociology and anthropology, an age grade or age class is a social category based on age, within a series of such categories, through which individuals pass over the course of their lives. ...


The famous "buffalo horns" formation

Most historians (Morris, Knight et al.) credit Shaka with initial development of the famous "buffalo horns" formation. It was composed of three elements:

  1. the "horns" or flanking right and left wing elements to encircle and pin the enemy. Generally the "horns" were made up of younger, less experienced, but quicker moving troops.
  2. the "chest" or central main force which charged into the enemy center and delivered the coup de grace. The prime fighters made up the composition of the main force.
  3. the "loins" or reserves used to exploit success or reinforce elsewhere. Often these were older veterans.

Coordination was supplied by regimental izinduna (chiefs or leaders) who used hand signals and messengers. The scheme was elegant in its simplicity, and well understood by the warriors assigned to each echelon. Coup de Grace was a a multimedia project under which Michael Moynihan released recordings and print. ... InDuna (plural: izinDuna) is a Zulu title meaning advisor, great leader, ambassador, headman, or commander of group of warriors. ...


Organization and leadership of the Zulu forces

The host were generally partitioned into 3 levels: regiments, corps of several regiments, and "armies" or bigger formations, although the Zulu did not use these terms in the modern sense. Any grouping of men on a mission could collectively be called an impi, whether a raiding party of 100 or horde of 10,000. Numbers were not uniform, but dependent on a variety of factors including assignments by the king or the manpower mustered by various clan chiefs or localities. A regiment might be 400 or 4000 men. These were grouped into corps that took their name from the military kraals where they were mustered, or sometimes the dominant regiment of that locality.


Shakan methods versus European technology

Main article: Anglo-Zulu War

The expanding Zulu power inevitably clashed with European hegemony in the decades after Shaka's death. In fact, European travelers 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 was impressed, but after seeing muzzleloaders demonstrated, he argued that in the time the gunmen took to reload, the gunmen would be swamped by charging spear-wielding warriors. Combatants United Kingdom Zulu Nation Commanders Sir Bartle Frere, Frederick Augustus Thesiger, 2nd Baron Chelmsford Cetshwayo Strength 14,800 (6,400 Europeans 8,400 Natal Troops) 40,000 Casualties 1,727 killed, 256 wounded 8,250+ killed, 3,000+ wounded The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the...


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 1879. Once again, most Zulu successes rested on their mobility, and ability to screen their forces and close quickly when their opponents were unfavorably deployed. Their major victory at the Battle of Isandlwana is well known, but they also forced back a British column at the Battle of Hlobane mountain, deploying fast moving regiments over a wide area in the rugged ravines and gulleys while the British were on the move. The Voortrekker Monument built in 1949. ... Combatants Voortrekkers Zulu Commanders Andries Pretorius Dambuza Ndlela kaSompisi Strength about 470 men between 10,000 and 20,000 men Casualties 3 wounded 3,000 dead The Battle of Blood River (Afrikaans: Slag van Bloedrivier) was fought on 16 December 1838 on the banks of the Blood River (Bloedrivier) in... Combatants Britain Zulu Nation Commanders Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry Pulleine† Anthony Durnford† Ntshingwayo Khoza Strength 1,400 men 22,000 men Casualties 52 officers killed 1,277 other ranks killed 3,000 killed 3,000 wounded The Battle of Isandlwana was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War in which... Combatants Britain Zulu Nation Commanders Evelyn Wood Unknown Strength 675 25,000 Casualties 225 killed 8 wounded Unknown, but Zulus claimed losses to be negligible The Battle of Hlobane was a battle of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 fought at . // No. ...


Shaka as the creator of a revolutionary warfare style

[original research?]


Sweeping claims that Shaka 'changed the nature of warfare in Africa' from 'a ritualised exchange of taunts with minimal loss of life into a true method of subjugation by wholesale slaughter'[citation needed], are open to question. Certainly his military campaigns created widespread destruction and local distress where his impis were active. When the bigger picture of the entire region is considered, several other factors come into play, including European expansion at the Cape, slaving in Mozambique, and the usual assortment of agricultural pressures common to that region. Still on the balance, it seems clear that Shaka's military expansion caused much disruption and turmoil of the Mfecane, and played a major role in shaping the area where he resided and beyond. Mfecane (Zulu), also known as the Difaqane or Lifaqane (Sesotho), is an African expression which means something like the crushing or scattering. It describes a period of widespread chaos and disturbance in southern Africa during the period between 1815 and about 1840. ...


Like every other aspiring hegemon, Shaka faced dissent and opposition, but the mere presence of these did not negate his activities or plans. And while sweeping broad brush claims of Shaka's revolutionary impact must be treated with caution, so too must more limited revisionist assertions, which in turn fail to achieve a balanced view of the Shakan tenure, and fail to see that the tribal structures and culture itself, provided enough precedent and raw material for Shaka to embark on his plans of hegemony or expansion, and many of the innovations he is traditionally credited with.


Shaka in Zulu culture

He is Shaka the unshakeable,
Thunderer-while-sitting, son of Menzi
He is the bird that preys on other birds,
The battle-axe that excels over other battle axes in sharpness,
He is the long-strided pursuer, son of Ndaba,
Who pursued the sun and the moon.
He is the great hubbub like the rocks of Nkandla
Where elephants take shelter
When the heavens frown...

Traditional Zulu praise song, English translation by Ezekiel Mphahlele

The figure of Shaka still sparks interest among not only the contemporary Zulu but many worldwide who have encountered the tribe and its history. The current tendency appears to be to lionize him; popular film and other media have certainly contributed to his appeal. Against this must be balanced the devastation and destruction that he wrought. And yet traditional Zulu culture still reveres the dead monarch, as the typical Praise Song above attests. It should be noted that praise names are among the most widely used poetic forms in Africa, applying not only to gods but to men, animals, plants and even towns.


Mfecane

Main article: Mfecane

The increased military efficiency led to more and more clans being incorporated into Shaka's Zulu empire, while other tribes moved away to be out of range of Shaka's impis. The ripple effect caused by these mass migrations would become known (though only in the twentieth century) as the Mfecane. Some groups which moved off (like the Hlubi and Ngwane to the north of the Zulus) could have been impelled by the Ndwandwe, not the Zulu. Some moved south (like the Chunu and the Thembe), but never suffered much in the way of attack; it was precautionary, and they left many people behind in their traditional homelands. Mfecane (Zulu), also known as the Difaqane or Lifaqane (Sesotho), is an African expression which means something like the crushing or scattering. It describes a period of widespread chaos and disturbance in southern Africa during the period between 1815 and about 1840. ... An Impi is an isiZulu word for any armed body of men. ... Mfecane (Zulu), also known as the Difaqane or Lifaqane (Sesotho), is an African expression which means something like the crushing or scattering. It describes a period of widespread chaos and disturbance in southern Africa during the period between 1815 and about 1840. ...


Among the many fascinating cases of the Mfecane is that of Mzilikazi of the Khumalo who was a 'general' of Shaka's, who fled Shaka's employ, and in turn conquered an empire in Zimbabwe, after clashing with European groups like the Boers. Other notable figures to arise from the Mfecane include Shoshangane, who expanded from the Zulu area into what is now Mozambique. Shaka was clearly a tough, able leader, the most able of his time, and during the last four years of his reign indulged in several long-distance raids. Mzilikazi (meaning the path of blood) (ca. ...


The theory of the Mfecane holds that the aggressive expansion of Shaka's armies caused a brutal chain reaction across the southern areas of the continent, as dispossessed tribe after tribe turned on their neighbors in a deadly cycle of fight and conquest. This theory must be treated with caution, as it generally neglects several other factors such as the impact of white encroachment and expansion in that area of Southern Africa around the same time. Revised histories have cast doubt on the concept of the Mfecane and its attribution of wholesale migration and destruction to the Zulu. A more balanced approach sees Zulu expansionism as one of a number of factors (albeit an important one) that disrupted traditional patterns of the local area. One outstanding example of the traditional view of the Mfecane is J.D. Omer-Cooper's "The Zulu Aftermath". Mfecane (Zulu), also known as the Difaqane or Lifaqane (Sesotho), is an African expression which means something like the crushing or scattering. It describes a period of widespread chaos and disturbance in southern Africa during the period between 1815 and about 1840. ...


It is safe to say that Shaka was not like an African version of Napoleon or Bernard Montgomery with a "master-plan". To the contrary the record shows a shrewd, if harsh manipulator of circumstances, customs and events to cobble together the Zulu nation under difficult circumstances and with at times patchy success. Napoléon I, Emperor of the French (born Napoleone di Buonaparte, changed his name to Napoléon Bonaparte)[1] (15 August 1769; Ajaccio, Corsica – 5 May 1821; Saint Helena) was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from... Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC (17 November 1887 – 24 March 1976) was a British Army officer, often referred to as Monty. He successfully commanded Allied forces at the Battle of El Alamein, a major turning point in World War II, and...


Scholarship in recent years

Scholarship in recent years has revised views of the sources on Shaka's reign. The earliest are two eyewitness accounts written by white adventurer-traders who met Shaka during the last four years of his reign. Nathaniel Isaacs published his Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa in 1836, creating a picture of Shaka as a degenerate and pathological monster which survives in modified forms to this day. Isaacs was aided in this by Henry Francis Fynn, whose diary (actually a rewritten collage of various papers) was edited by James Stuart only in 1950.


Their now discredited accounts may be balanced by the rich resource of oral histories collected around 1900 by (ironically) the same James Stuart, now published in 6 volumes as The James Stuart Archive. Stuart's early 20th century work was continued by D. McK. Malcolm in 1950. These and other sources such as A.T. Bryant gives us a more Zulu-centred picture. Most popular accounts are based on E. A. Ritter's novel Shaka Zulu (1955), a potboiling romance which was re-edited into something more closely resembling a history. The work of John Wright (history professor at University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg), Julian Cobbing and Dan Wylie (Rhodes University, Grahamstown) have been among a number of writers that have modified these stories. It has been suggested that University of Durban-Westville be merged into this article or section. ... Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city of the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. ... Julian Cobbing is a British-South African historian, and professor of History at Rhodes University, known best for his groundbreaking research into 19th century Zulu history. ... Rhodes University is a university in South Africa. ... Grahamstown from Fort Selwyn Grahamstown is a city in the Eastern Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa and is the seat of the Makana municipality. ...


Various modern historians writing on Shaka and the Zulu point to the uncertain nature of Fynn and Issac's accounts of Shaka's reign. A standard general reference work in the field is Donald Morris' "The Washing of The Spears" (1965) which notes that sources as a whole for the historical era are not the best. Morris nevertheless references a large number of sources, including Stuart, and A.T. Bryant's extensive but uneven "Olden Times in Zululand and Natal" which is based on four decades of exhaustive interviews of tribal sources. After sifting through these sources and noting their strengths and weaknesses, Morris generally credits Shaka with a large number of military and social innovations, and this is the general consensus in the field. (Morris 617-620).


Military historians of the Zulu War must also be considered for their description of Zulu fighting methods and tactics, including authors like Ian Knight ("Anatomy of the Zulu Army") and Robert Edgerton ("Like Lions They Fought"). General histories of Southern Africa are also valuable including Noel Mostert's "Frontiers" and a detailed account of the results from the Zulu expansion, J. D Omer-Cooper's "The Zulu Aftermath", which advances the traditional Mfecaneh theory.

King of the Zulu Nation
Preceded by:
Senzangakhona
Reign
1816-1828
Succeeded by:
Dingane

This List of Zulu kings gives a list of Zulu chieftains and kings from their earliest known history up to the current monarch: Mnguni Nkosinkulu Mdlani Luzumana Malandela kaLuzumana, son of Luzumana Ntombhela kaMalandela, son of Malandela. ... Senzangakona (ca. ... Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu (ca. ...

See also

This List of Zulu kings gives a list of Zulu chieftains and kings from their earliest known history up to the current monarch: Mnguni Nkosinkulu Mdlani Luzumana Malandela kaLuzumana, son of Luzumana Ntombhela kaMalandela, son of Malandela. ... -1... The Mtetwa Empire was a kingdom that arose in the 1700s south of Delagoa Bay and inland in eastern southern Africa. ... King Moshoeshoe I Moshoeshoe (1786?-1870) was born at Menkhoaneng in the Northern part of present-day Lesotho. ... King Zwide was the chief of the Ndwandwe clan from about 1805 to around 1820. ... The Ndwandwe clan are a subgroup of the Nguni people who populate sections of Southern Africa. ... Mzilikazi (meaning the path of blood) (ca. ... The Ndebele people are three tribes or nations of people living in South Africa and Zimbabwe; there are three main groups of Ndebele: The Southern Transvaal Ndebele, who live around Bronkhorstspruit The Northern Transvaal Ndebele, who live in Limpopo Province (formerly Northern Transvaal or Northern Province) around the towns of... Senzangakona (ca. ... Nandi (c. ... Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu (ca. ... Umthlangana (? - 1828) (also known as Mahlangane ?) was a Zulu prince - the son of Senzangakona, a brother of Shaka, and half-brother of Dingane and Mpande. ... Mpande (1798 - 1872) was king of the Zulu nation from 1840 to 1872, making him the longest reigning Zulu king. ... DVD cover of Shaka Zulu television miniseries Shaka Zulu was a 1986 television miniseries directed by William C. Faure and written by Joshua Sinclair for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). ... SABC is an abbreviation for either South African Broadcasting Corporation - in South Africa or Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council - in the United Kingdom ... This is a list of notable South Africans with Wikipedia articles. ... Great South Africans was a South African television series that aired on SABC3 and hosted by Noeleen Maholwana Sangqu and Denis Beckett. ... Chaka is the most famous novel by the writer Thomas Mofolo of Lesotho. ... Thomas Mokopu Mofolo (December 22, 1876- September 8, 1948) is considered to be the greatest Lesotho writer. ...

References

  • E.A. Ritter 'Shaka Zulu' - "HE THREW OFF A BRAND OF SHAME TO BECOME THE FEARSOME WARRIOR CALLED - SHAKA, KING OF THE ZULU"
  • Donald Morris, The Washing of The Spears.
  • Ian Knight, Anatomy of the Zulu Army.
  • Robert Edgerton, Like Lions They Fought.
  • Noel Mostert, Frontiers.
  • J.D. Omer-Cooper, The Zulu Aftermath.
  • Dan Wylie, Myth of Iron: Shaka in History.
  • Rory Carroll in Johannesburg, Shaka Zulu's brutality was exaggerated, says new book, Monday May 22, 2006, The Guardian.

“Shaka Zulu,” Carpe Noctem, http://carpenoctem.tv/military/shaka.html Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... For other uses, see Guardian. ...

 David Shingirai Chanaiwa, “The Zulu Revolution: State Formation in a Pastoralist Society,” African Studies Review 23(3) (Dec. 1980): 1-20. 

External links

  • The South African Military History Society - The Zulu Military Organization and the Challenge of 1879
  • Shaka: Zulu chieftan
  • The History of Shaka
  • Statue proposal

  Results from FactBites:
 
Shaka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (5095 words)
Shaka was probably the first son of the chieftain Senzangakhona and Nandi, a daughter of a past chief of the Langeni tribe, born near present-day Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Shaka is often said to have been dissatisfied with the long throwing assegai, and credited with introducing a new variant of the weapon—the Iklwa, a short stabbing spear, with a long, swordlike spearhead.
Shaka is also supposed to have introduced a larger, heavier shield made of cowhide and to have taught each warrior how to use the shield's left side to hook the enemy's shield to the right, exposing his ribs for a fatal spear stab.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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