The Questionable Identity of Shaka Zulu

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Shaka Zulu, mass murderer or militant genius? There many different ways to view Shaka Zulu, many think of him as a mass murder due to the amount of people that he massacred for not doing what he wanted them to do but the other viewpoint of Shaka Zulu is that he was a militant genius who actually thought about the strategies that his men used. This topic was of great interest due to the Mfecane’s great historical background. The Mfecane also known by a Sesotho name Difaqane which meant crushing and scattering this was a period of mass chaos between 1815-1840. Shaka used his forces to dominate new territories. Shaka Zulu was a mass murder as he had all of this hatred built up, his father had rejected him as a son, his father figure, Dingiswayo, was killed and his mother Nandi died. Shaka was a very curios person which made him do things that a normal person would not do he once sliced open the belly of a pregnant women to see how the foetus occupied itself in the women’s belly. As a compliment to Shaka’s curiosity he was also a rebel who did not like to do things as other people have done it but to do it us way rather. This assignment will show the different lights of Shaka Zulu and display the real Shaka. A mass murder or a militant genius

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Shaka Kasezangakhona, also known as Shaka Zulu (which could be spelled as Tshaka or Chaka) was born in the month uNtulikazi which is July in 1787.Shaka was born as a result of his parents illegitimacy. This meant that Senzangakhona and Nandi were not married when Shaka was conceived. Nandi was the daughter of a Langeni chief and Senzangakhona was a ruler of an insignificant chiefdom. Shaka got his name from the illness of suffering from intestinal condition caused by the iShaka disease. He spent most of his childhood with his mother in the Nguni homestead.

Shaka changed the whole ibuntho system that was used by Dingiswayo. Dingiswayo was the Mthethwa chief who is well known for his father figure that he played in Shaka’s life. Shaka changed the formation, the appearance of the warriors, as well as changing the weaponry. The weaponry that Shaka changed their long stick spear to a shorter spear that could not be thrown because if the warriors throw their weapons they are rendered as vulnerable because they cannot protect themselves the new weapon was called the ikwla this meant that the warriors had to engage in hand to hand combat.

Shaka reinforced and redesigned the rawhide shield, the idea behind the shield was to use it to unbalance your opponent exposing their left armpit so that they could be killed. He also forced the men to discard of their leather sandals and run barefoot into battle, to prepare for battle Shaka’s men would run on thorns so that their feet could get used to iShaka used young boys to carry sleeping mats and spare weapons. The warriors used the “bull- horn formation” when in battle, the younger warriors would encircle the enemy and create a panic while the chest (which was made of the older warriors) would start killing the enemy. Shaka had a capital named the Bulawayo this name translates to “The place where they are killed” after every battle his troops would all join at this point while Shaka examined every warrior back to see if there were any wounds if there were any the person would be killed immediately. Shaka did this because if you had wounds on your back it mean that you were fleeing from battle which is a result of them being cowards.

Shaka became even more brutal after the death of Dingiswayo and his mother. First Dingiswayo was murdered by the Ndwandwe clan. Shaka took revenge on the clan by capturing the murderer’s mother, locking her in a hut to be devoured by hyenas and jackals then he burnt the hut in the dawn. Shaka finally caught Dingiswayo killer, Zwide, he was killed in the battle near Pongola. When Nandi died in 1827, Shaka could not handle her death he killed thousands of people so that those families could feel the same pain that he was going through. Women who were pregnant were slaughtered along with their husbands, new-born calves mothers were also killed so that they too could feel the pain of losing a mother.

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