Saturday

King Shaka Zulu

Listen to "King Shaka Zulu"

Shaka was born to a Zulu chief and a woman named Nandi. Throughout his life, Shaka would care for Nandi and was greatly affected by her death in 1827 (when he killed thousands of Nandi's subjects so that he would have people to mourn with him). Early on, Shaka became the "apprentice" of Chief Dingiswyao, a great military leader. After proving himself as a soldier, he was eventually allowed to become military chief of the Zulus.

As military chief, he created three new tactics:
  • Shaka used short iklwa stabbing spears instead of long assegai throwing spears. This showed how Shaka used close combat effectively throughout his campaigns.
  • Shaka created a buffalo formation which consisted of the chest, the two horns (flanking forces), and the loins (reserve forces).
  • Shaka forced all the people he conquered to join his force or die. This policy of assimilation made his army grow rapidly.
Shaka's two great wars were both fought against the Ndwandwa tribe, led by Chief Zwide. During the first war, Shaka defeated a much larger force under Nomahlanjana by fighting off several assaults at the top of Qokli Hill. During the second war, Shaka defeated an enemy force under Soshangane at a river crossing and in a plain.

Just before his assassination, Shaka's Zulu nation spanned 2 million square miles consisting of 250,000 citizens and 40,000 soldiers. He had killed around 2 million enemy soldiers during his campaigns.

For more information, read Military History Magazine (October 2002): Africa's Black Napoleon, and http://www.rapidttp.com/milhist/vol044sb.html http://www.carpenoctem.tv/military/shaka.html

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Corrections:

An “umuzi” is a cluster of several houses, not a military encampment.
The story about Shaka being banished after allowing a sheep to be killed is in dispute.
Nandi was a princess, not a lower-class woman.