Shaka and Zulu

Topics: South Africa, Shaka, Africa Pages: 6 (2402 words) Published: March 28, 2006
The extreme pressure for the Zulu to find new land because of drought caused an expansion in territory and led to a series of wars for control which was dubbed Mfecane. The Mfecane was a period of warfare between different ethnic groups which led to many changes in the political structure of Southern Africa. This series of wars called the Mfecane was revolutionary during 1817-1828 ( and it was mainly due to the abolition of the Trans – Atlantic slave trade, coupled with the increase in population, also with the loss of natural resources, and the economic restructuring moving from slaves being the main economic trade to the search for a new method resulted in a major change in southern Africa. During the Mfecane many people died because of the sheer warfare that was happening during this time, and with this catastrophe many more people lost their homes and territories. At the heart of the Mfecane was Shaka who saw the old small stateless communities and turned his entity Zulu into a large scale political entity with large armies and because of Shaka this time turned out to be one of major expansion in Southern Africa. Shaka and the Zulu were at the heart of the Mfecane and are the most important part to shed light on, but the Mfecane also saw the creation and expansion of many other nations which should be discussed further as well. To further illustrate a look at what caused the Mfecane, The kingdom of Zulu and their leader Shaka, and the expansion and creation of other kingdom's during the time of the Mfecane.

During the time of the Mfecane many people died from the warfare which also left many more displaced. Due to the Mfecane large states arrived which made the smaller states expand and allowing for larger armies and ultimately for Shaka to be able to control area's with an iron fist. With the increasing population's levels and resources becoming scarce it was obvious that this would become a crucial period of time in African history. Nation's that were previously divided and in smaller states were now becoming highly concentrated and more settled into where they were situated. Trading of ivory with the Portuguese became a major reason for settling down in a certain area. The amount of land that could be inhabited by different communities in Africa was becoming limited because of the expanding nation's taking control of certain land. "The introduction of corn from the Americas through the Portuguese in Mozambique was one major reason for this trend. Corn produced more food than indigenous grasses on the same land, and thus could sustain a larger population." ( Corn becoming the major form of substance caused a huge problem in itself because corn requires a heavier amount of water in order for it to grow. The declining rainfall brought about a drought which caused disruption and suffering throughout society. "Bantu-speaking farmers had reached the margins of arable land on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in the northwest and in the mountains on the southern border of the Highveld, and people settling in the area found their access to water more and more limited." ( This resulted in many people fighting each other for basic supplies like grain and cattle, and whatever else they could find, this literally became a desperate attempt to survive on anything that could be considered eatable. Thus warfare came about, and two kingdoms' came to the forefront which were Dingiswayo and Ndwandwe ( who both ended up fighting for resources. The two kingdoms were the first to become more centralized as well as to gain a strong military sense. Although the Ndwandwe were victorious when they were able to kill Dingiswayo's leader, it was a short lived victory as Shaka and the kingdom of Zulu were soon to provide a grave opposition.

The kingdom of Zulu was the epicenter of the Mfecane and was the main driving force behind...

Bibliography: "Zulu Rise & Mfecane" The story of Africa, BBC World Service.
"Mfecane" Tiscali Reference. 2005
Mills, Wallace G. "Zulu State-building and the Mfecane" Hist. 322 5 Mfecane. 2002
"Migrations of the Mfecane" Encarta.
"Background to the Mfecane" South Africa.
"Shaka and the Rise of the Zulu State" South Africa.
"Mfecane" Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 1997 – 2000
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