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Shaka Zulu and His Significance in Foundation of the Zulu Ethnical Group

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The Zulu can be described as one of the most larges ethnical groups and was originally founded by the powerful and brave leader, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, in the year 1820. King Shaka was born in the year 1787 and past on 22 September 1828. King Shaka was assassinated by people that were very close to him and the people he probably trusted the most. The fears ruler was killed by his half-brother Dingane and his other brother Umhlangana as well as advisor Mbopa had a hand in killing the King.

This term ‘Zulu’ initially refers to a person or member of the Ngani peoples who lives in KwaZulu-Natal. This Zulu group started off as a small group of only 1500 people and is today known as a monumental group. The Zulu group would be labelled as a tribe. One can say that a tribe can be explained as a group of sharing the same culture society and they share the very same ancestry. This term was developed by Europeans and it referred to identity which is unchanging . Referring to the Zulu group as a tribe, holds deceiving histories and also misunderstanding of culture. This term also holds this power over the originality and the oral history and it suggest that this tradition can and has never changed, although it is evident that the Zulu culture had change through time.

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As states by John Wright, “Zulu ethnic identity did not take root before the twentieth century”, this indicates that people who regarded themselves as Zulu was not born into this ethnical group they simply inherited this culture and that this group became bigger and stronger over several years. People North and South of the Thukela River was influenced by the Zulu group. According to Wright “From the time of their earliest contracts with Shaka, Europeans in the neighbouring colonial world generically categorised all the people over whom he ruled a Zulu, both north and south of the Thukela”. The Europeans regarded everyone who lived between Mkhuze and Thukela Rivers as Zulu. Numerous of people especially the people who lived South of Thukela did not regard themselves as Zulu. They did not except the Zulu identity therefor they were treated unfairly. People who did not consider themselves as Zulu had less in comparison with Shaka’s subjects. Although they were treated in an unfair manner they still fought for Shaka. Shaka’ s subjects is those people who had no problem taking on this identity as an Zulu. “But for the majority of people in the far-flung homesteads that yield to the new paramount power tribute in the form of cattle, young woman and the labour of young men, there was little, it anything, to draw them into identifying with the dominant Zulu group”. King Shaka basically persuaded and bribed them to join the Zulu group.

King Shaka first took over the Zulu group when the ruler Dingiswayo died. Dingiswayo died in a war against Zwide troops, as a result Shaka was appointed by Dingiswayo to become the tribal chief therefor Shaka made the Mthethwa part of the Zulu group. Shaka Zulu was seen as someone who had power.

The terms crushing, forced migration scattering and forced dispersal come to mind when referring to Mfecane. The term Mfecane was originally used to describe the period when the Mzilikazi controlled the Transvaal. Mzilikazi was known as a Southern African king and was also part of King Shaka’ s army. He left the Zulu when he and King Shaka had a disagreement and form his own army. The Southern African king overcome and took control of Transvaal. People who was not in favour or who did not want to be part of his army were being murdered and this particular happening indicates where the words crushing and scattering come about. The Mfecane of the 19th century was a constant warfare in the area of Thukela River and Delagoa Bay. The warfare resulted into the rise of the Zulu kingdom. The Mfecane is described as a changing proses and it started at the beginning of the 18th century. Multiple changes took place in the time that the Mfecane occurred.

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Shaka Zulu and His Significance in Foundation of the Zulu Ethnical Group. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from
“Shaka Zulu and His Significance in Foundation of the Zulu Ethnical Group.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
Shaka Zulu and His Significance in Foundation of the Zulu Ethnical Group. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Oct. 2023].
Shaka Zulu and His Significance in Foundation of the Zulu Ethnical Group [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Oct 3]. Available from:
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