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Shaka Zulu; His Life, Times And Legacy

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Shaka Zulu was an intelligent and powerful warrior during the early1800’s. In Shaka’searly years, he joined the warrior force of Chief Diniswayo, who ruled the Zulus. Shaka learned military tactics and organizations while he was with Diniswayo’s army. Shaka Zulu was not a great leader because of his personality, but rather because he trained his warriors exceptionallywell.

Shaka’s biggest accomplishment was that hecreatedan army of 20,000 and had destroyed an area of land 100 miles wide south of Tugela. Even more significantly, 1828 Shaka ruled 250,000 people and created an army of 40,000 warriors, and killed 2,000,000 people during his reign. Mass executions keep him in power until he started to overstrain his army and the unrest caused by the enforced celibacy became too much. On September 23, 1828 Shaka’s half brothers assassinated him. After becoming so bloodthirsty, Shaka’s bothers deemed Shaka mentally ill and feared he would cause the downfall of the Zulu tribe. The following illustration accurately depicts a typical battle for Shaka and his warriors. Mary Evans did the painting in 1847. This lithograph portrays thousands of Zulu warriors emphazing how success Shaka was in creating an army out of a rabble of five hundred men.

The assegai and the shield made Shaka godlike. The assegai is a long stabbing spear that was made out of wood. Both sides of the tips of his weapon were sharpened to go through any human body with a slight poke. Both sides of the weapon are sharp so Shaka can fight enemies in front of him and kill the enemies that try to attack him from the back. The second weapon that he used was his powerful shield. His shield was a specialized made shield that had sharp tips on the front so he could block and stab people at the same time. Shaka lead a great military unit that even after he died, his army was still fighting.1Shaka worked tirelessly to train his army of 500 men. Nearly every day he visited one of his two other military kraals and woe betide the defaulters. His kingdom was so small — a paltry ten miles by ten — that from his central position he could reach any of its confines within an hour.Shaka left his mark on the Zulu kingdom and his tactics showed the British that the Zulus were a tenacious and fierce enemy.

Shaka paid close attention to detail and had an astounding work ethic. In E.A Riter’s well known novel, Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire, Ritter comments that Shaka “always insisted on inspecting everything himself. In every one of his critical battles he insisted on personally reconnoitring the ground and the disposition of the enemy forces.” Shaka believed that it is the master’s eye, which makes the cow grow fat. Shaka Zulu was bloodthirsty policies altered the Kingdom of the Zulu. His greif caused him to become illegitimate. After Shaka’s mother, Nandi, died Shaka prohibited farming, outlawed milk, and demanded that pregnant women be murdered along with their families. This harsh reaction cost 7,000 people their lives.

To understand the task which presently lay ahead of Shaka with his ‘army’ or rabble of 500 men, which he had inherited, the following comparison may assist in forming a picture. In 1879 — sixty-three years later — to conquer Zululand, it required a British Army of 20,000 Imperial foot soldiers and cavalry armed with breech-loading rifles, cannon and rocket batteries, in addition to Colonial mounted troops and thousands of Natal Native levies, many of them armed with rifles. It further needed more than 1000 ox-drawn wagons capable of carrying three tons each to provide the commissariat. Nor did the British Army have to look for the Zulus, for without exception it was the latter who attacked, and yet the campaign lasted for a full six months due to the initial grave disasters of the British.

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