Shaka Zulu Influence

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Shaka Zulu was perhaps the single most influential leader in the early history of Southern Africa. He overcame great adversity in his youth, prior to his experiences in the military. He utilized methods that were both brutal and brilliant in his rapid and widespread conquests. Shaka assembled a huge Zulu kingdom comparable to Napoleon’s Empire with a population of over 250,000. Though he achieved many great things, he also had a rather grim downfall. The story of Shaka Zulu is one of great historical significance.

Shaka was born as the ‘illegitimate’ child of a Zulu chief. The Zulu chief publicly distanced himself from Shaka and his mother, Nandi, though they lived with him. This caused Shaka and Nandi to develop an extremely close relationship. After a disagreement between Shaka and his father, both the young boy and Nandi were expelled from the village. The pair attempted to find refuge with the Langeni people, but they were mocked and despised by the locals, forcing them to flee. They eventually found refuge with Mthethwa tribe. It was here that Shaka first demonstrated his military brilliance. He became a warrior at the age of 23, allowing the Mthethwa to win several important battles.

Shaka’s father died in 1816. At this time, the Zulu were a miniscule and powerless clan surrounded by superior neighbors. Shaka was sent by the Mthethwa head chief to conquer the Zulu tribe, a feat he accomplished both quickly and efficiently. He established himself
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