Shaka kaSenzangakhona, the Zulu king and founder of the Zulu empire, was assassinated at kwaDukuza in 1828 by his two half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana — one date given is September 24. After the assassination, Dingane took over the throne.
Shaka’s Last Words
Shaka’s final words have taken on prophetic significance, with popular South African/Zulu legend having him warning Dingane and Mhlangana that “white people who will come up from the sea” will rule the Zulu nation, not them. Another version claims that swallows would rule, a reference to white people who, like swallows, build their homes out of mud.
However, Mkebeni kaDabulamanzi, King Cetshwayo’s nephew and grandson of King Mpande (another half-brother to Shaka), gives an accurate version— “Are you stabbing me, kings of earth? You shall meet your death by killing one another.”
Shaka and the Zulu Nation
Assassination by throne rivals has been a common occurrence in monarchs throughout history and around the world. Shaka was the illegitimate son of Senzangakhona, a minor chief, whereas Dingane, his half-brother, was legitimate. Nandi, Shaka’s mother, was eventually placed as the chief’s third wife, but the marriage was unpleasant, and she and her son were eventually forced away.
Shaka joined in the Mthethwa military, which was led by chief Dingiswayo. Dingiswayo aided Shaka in assassinating his elder brother, Sigujuana, who had claimed the throne after Shaka’s father died in 1816. Shaka was now the Zulu chief, albeit a vassal of Dingiswayo. Shaka took over the Mthethwa state and army after Dingiswayo was murdered by Zwide.
As he rebuilt the Zulu military organization, Shaka’s dominance rose. The bullhorn formation and the long-bladed assegai were both inventions that contributed to greater battlefield success. He maintained merciless military discipline and his forces included both men and youths. He prevented his soldiers from marrying till they reached certain age.
He conquered surrounding lands or formed alliances until he had complete control of modern-day Natal. Many rivals were thrown out of their areas and forced to migrate, wreaking havoc across the region. He was not, however, at odds with the local Europeans. In the Zulu realm, he authorized some European settlers.
Why Was Shaka Assassinated?
Shaka’s grief over the death of his mother, Nandi, in October 1827 led to erratic and lethal behavior. He made everyone else mourn with him and murdered anyone who broke the rules. He ordered that no crops be planted and that no milk be used, two directives that would almost certainly result in starvation. By that time, no woman was allowed to become pregnant.
Shaka’s two half-brothers attempted to assassinate him several times. When the majority of the Zulu forces were deployed north and security at the royal kraal was low, they were successful. Mbopa, the servant, joined the brothers. The servant or the brothers did the actual killing, according to various accounts. His body was dumped in an empty grain hole and then filled it, so the exact location remains unknown.
Dingane ascended to the throne and expelled Shaka’s supporters. He permitted the troops to marry and establish a farmstead, which increased military devotion. He ruled for 12 years until his half-brother Mpande defeated him.
Shaka greatly changed the welfare of Zulu nation as he protected the land and his people from external threat. Africa positively recognize him for his unmatched strength that he carried on to protect mother Africa from external influence. His kind of leadership portrays patriotism and visionary leadership.