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Shaka Zulu was the most influential leader of the Zulu Kingdom. One of the greatest in world history, Shaka started his accomplishments as a young boy, when he first entered battle. To many, he was considered a god and his people looked up to him. Shaka was a son of former chief, ruler of an insignificant small chiefdom, the Zulu. His mother was Nandi, the daughter of a Langeni chief. His career was a transforming influence in the history of southern and central Africa.
Shaka’s early childhood affected his success as a warrior and a leader in many various ways. As a young child, he was exposed to violence. He saw limbs and blood shed so often to the point where he became desensitized, in other words, violence became a normal event to Shaka at such a young age. He wanted to feel acceptance, approval and love from his father by establishing objectives. He defined his manhood through his victories and through his abilities to fight.
Violence was one of the few things Shaka grew up with, therefore he used violence to feel accepted by his father. He gained respect by being fearless and leading his troops to battle, knowing he had power and confidence to take on anyone. Shaka showed no mercy. When he was chief, he rewarded the families that lost a family member by giving them free land, cattle, and being put on high status throughout the tribe.
People had confidence in Shaka, they worshipped him and considered him as a god to their community.
His own warriors weren’t afraid to die for him. They trusted that Shaka would take care of their families if they died. He taught his tribe new military strategies, such as hand to hand combat. Before Shaka, they only had long spears as weapons, in hope they would hit one another. He exposed the U-Shaped formation, where tribes would fight in waves and the purpose was to enclose a tribe for kill. Warriors could never retreat and they would be prepared to die if the Zulu tribe were coming. Shaka’s early childhood created him to be exposed to violence, accomplish objectives, be trustworthy and provide new military strategies.
Shaka’s relationship with his mother Nandi gave him balance in his life to constantly be fighting and killing others, yet knowing she would always be there to offer him love and support. He fought mainly to get the approval of acceptance from his father and proving to him that he is a strong warrior. His mother always had unconditional love for him and helped Shaka’s life become less stressful by pampering him and making him feel special after all his hard work. Shaka’s mother become a person to fall back on; he knew his mother loved him and would never criticize his work. Shaka may have been a person that would have just wanted to kill to win, but because of his mother’s love he was able to stay balanced. He needed the love his mother offered to be able to do the things he could do as a strong warrior.
The Difaqane caused tribes to not return and meant that African tribes were scattering from the Zulus. They affected the voortrekkers, or the Dutch farmers on the Great because they left wide open spaces where no one was so when the tribes heard that Shaka was coming they would run. The voortrekkers took this fertilized, perfect grazing land to grow crops and as a place to settle and live permanently. The previous tribe had lived the same way as the voortrekkers. When the tribes ran away from the Zulus, they ran into other tribes, also known as the ripple affect. The ripple affect was an ongoing battle of stealing and killing. The death of Shaka’s mother led to a break into his balanced life, therefore he became extremely paranoid. His paranomia was aimed toward his own warriors because he was very fearful that they would kill him. Shaka’s response to that was that he started to kill some of them. Finally, his own half brothers killed Shaka by stabbing him, one from the front, one from the back. The reason why they killed him was because they were in fear that Shaka was going to kill them and they wanted to protect themselves. After Shaka’s death, the Zulu nation started to go downhill and drift away. Some of the generals took their warriors and left.
All in all, Shaka was known as a patriarch, a father-figure or a god for his many accomplishments as a leader. A master of strategy and battle tactics, he injected a new military strategies by training his men in novel methods of close combat. His efforts to reach an acceptance with his father caused him to be one of the greatest warriors in world history. With support from his mother and objective to get approval from his father, Shaka had a motivation to succeed like no other.
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