Shaka Zulu was a fierce warrior, brilliant military strategist, Leader expecting complete fearlessness from his warriors, and a murderous ruler. The Zulu nation today still takes pride in this revolutionary leader, who carved out the Zulu empire from simple beginnings. But Shaka was also brutal and fearless. During his reign he would execute men at will. The constant wars Shaka engaged in and the arbitrary executions eventually led to his downfall, when he was stabbed to death by a half-brother. At the time of Shaka's birth, chief Senzangakona the ruled by the Zulu nation of probably 10,0001. His betrothed wife, Nandi, became pregnant, but according to legend she claimed a certain intestinal beetle caused it. Soon Nandi gave birth to an illegitimate son, who was appropriately named Shaka, for beetle or parasite. In 1794 they were exiled to the Langeni.2 According to stories, Shaka and his mother were constantly fighting and disliked. Shaka began to display his aggressive character in his fights with other boys.3 When his mother married and bore a son Shaka left home to be protected by the ruler of the Mthethwa.
Shaka first served as a warrior under Dingiswayo in 1809, and quickly became distinguished as a fierce warrior. Recognizing Shaka's ability, Dingiswayo made him the commander of a regiment, and in 1816, became the Zulu chief.4
Shaka radicalized African warfare in order to conquer effectively; during that time warfare had not been very damaging. The opposing parties would line up against each other and hurl insults. Eventually they began to throw light spears, and after a few casualties were taken the armies retired. It was designed to raid cattle, not to conquer an enemy. By replacing the light throwing spear with the heavy, short, close quarters, stabbing spear called an assegi and adding improved cowhide shields to knock aside an enemies shield5, Shaka made battle significantly more deadly. Also Shaka redesigned the battle formation in order to...
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