Chaka the Great

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CHAKA THE GREAT

In 1786 Nandi gave birth to Chaka. His father Senzangakona was at the time Zulu King. At an early age Chaka*s father drove him and his mother into exile. They took refuge with a rival tribe, where he grew up in the home of Ngomane, who was made second in military command when Chaka rose to power.

Chaka and his mother were not crushed by the hardships they endured in the rival tribe; but conditioned his body so as to be recognised as a warrior. He was six feet three inches tall, with a well proportioned muscular body. Apart from being very intelligent, he was an athletic man who ..."in combats of wrestling and other matches...". was unbeaten, and was also the best and most graceful dancer he came first in everything he did. He was a man of fixed principles, who never abandoned anything until it was completed.

Chaka's intelligence and unusual courage was noted by Dingiswayo a leader of Chaka's tribe. He (Chaka) was trained to become a leader of the Mtetwas tribe which resided in Natal and South Africa. At the age of 26 Chaka*s father died and he became king of the Zulu. His main objective on ascending the throne was to unite the people under one strong king; thus he cho5e the tribal name ZULU AMAZULU.

With a mere 500 undisciplined soldiers he was ill-equipped even to defend his tribe, so his first step was to organise his army. With unusual skill and methods he put his soldiers through rigorous training. Very soon he had a well trained army of 600,000 men and properly armed. Chaka made many radical changes iii military tactics; he did away with the wearing of shoes, as they prevented the soldiers from moving easily and quickly during battle. The long spear (or javelin) was withdrawn and replaced with a short stabbing knife called an "assagai". The assagai was not thrown at the enemy as customary with the long spear; the idea was to get near the enemy and stab him. In this way many more of the enemy were killed.

He converted the shield into an offensive weapon as well as a means of protection. The method Chaka devised was: Hook the left edge of the enemy*s shield with his shield, and spin him around with a powerful backhand sweep. Chaka*s left side would still be protected by his own shield, but the opponent would be off balance, leaving him open for a stab with the assagai. The army was so well trained and conditioned that they could cover 50 miles in one day and be able to fight at the end of the journey. When introduced to firearms, Chaka said that he was impressed by them, but his men were the best fighting machine, because of the length of time it took to reload the rifles. While the soldiers were reloading his men could rush in and stab with the assagai. He laughed at the type ef clothing the Europeans used in battle it was unsuited for battle as it prevented easy movement and was uncomfortable.

The Mtetwas. under the leadership of Chaka started a series of conquests which brought the most of Natal under their control. The invincible army of Chaka had swept North and South and East and West. Once more Chaka had swept North and South and East and West. Once more Chaka used a new method of attack. Instead of the whole body attacking at once, he used the "BuIl Horn" formation: the main body of soldiers and the reinforcements were in the centre, and the two forward flanks were used to enclose the enemy. Chaka used to place spies in a territory months be fore he made an attack. His war Motto was "Death or Victory".

On the eve of a particular battle Chaka spoke to his soldiers, he told them that he was unable to sleep because he was worried about the forthcoming battle. He continued, . . Those you are going to meet are men and not children, you must know that you are facing death. afraid he can withdraw at once. I do not demand that you fight. But all who stay must understand that they may not turn back. They must die with their chief. or conquer with him. . . . There is only one way for a Zulu soldier to march and that is forward".

In the early months of 1824, Chaka was at the height of power. he had increased the wealth of the Zulu nation tremendously. Their territory increased from the original 100 square miles to 11.500 square miles, which no white man dare to settle on. although they lived very near the border. He attacked the Dutch and European with a military genius and drove themi out of Zululand and Natal.

At the age of 34 Chaka had reached hi~ goal of uniting many tribes and taught them to live in harmony. Chaka was not lenient with offenders. If a soldier raped a woman he was put to death, regardless of rank. Chaka was one of the greatest Genera1s the world has produced He was greater than Alexander the Great for within the apace of 12 years he had conquered and united an area twice the size of Europe. He was one of the first generals to have a female army this female army consisted of 10,000 women.

Itt was said that if Chaka had not died so soon. no white man would have been able to establish a government in South Africa. In spite of Chaka's efforts to maintain peace and love in his court, he was stabbed by his jealous brother in 1828, but he "...left a proud people in their unity...

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