Shaka Notes Founder of the Zulu Nation. An innovative and ruthless warrior he conquered much of southern Africa during the 19th century.
Shaka was born illegitimately to a Zulu chief and a woman from a lower-class clan. The Zulu word "Shaka" literally means "intestinal parasite". Perhaps because he was an outcast in his own clan environment and perhaps because of his mistreatment, Shaka grew up to be a ruthless but highly innovative leader.
When still a teenager, Shaka enlisted in the warrior force of Chief Dingiswyao of the Mthethwa tribe. From Dingiswyao Shaka learned the art of being a warrior. In 1816 Dingiswyao sent Shaka back to the Zulus to become their leader. Shaka instituted a variety of military reforms the hallmark of which was strict discipline. He also developed a battlefield tactical innovation known as the "buffalo" formation which divided his troops into four sections: two horns, a chest and the loin. This formation was used successfully to attack and vanquish his opponents
Shaka's strategy was to offer defeated tribes a choice: join his army or face execution. Starting with an initial army of 350 warriors, Shaka's troops swelled to over 2000 within the first year of his command. He utilized a scorched earth policy as he quickly defeated and absorbed clans in the southern Africa region.
Shaka was assassinated by his half brothers on September 23, 1828. But his empire lasted another fifty years due to his innovative, albeit ruthless, leadership and administrative skills.
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