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Secrets of the Zulu warriors


Secrets of the Zulu warriors
From 1816 to 1879 the Zulu Kingdom became one of the most powerful tribal societies in what is now South Africa. Only the arrival of the British Empire finally ended their expansion across the KwaZulu-Natal region in the bloody Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, after which the Zulu Kingdom became subject to the authority of British Queen Victoria.

Born around 1787, Shaka Zulu, the illegitimate son of chieftain Senzangakhona, had a lot to prove, and he did so the hard way. Taking control after his father’s death, Shaka curbed the power of the witch doctors and transformed the army with reforms. Among those was a policy of absorbing defeated tribes into his kingdom and promoting men based on ability rather than family ties.
Zulu warriors also gained new weapons, including the short, stabbing iklwa spear (the name gruesomely said to be the sound made when pulled from a corpse), and revised tactics. Zulu warriors were trained harshly too, forced to throw away their sandals so they could run faster – those who complained were simply killed – they reportedly jogged up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) in a day, with children as young as six running after them with food and other vital supplies.
By Shaka’s death in 1828, the Zulu Kingdom had expanded to cover an incredible 29,800 square kilometres (11,500 square miles) of land and ruled over an estimated 250,000 people.

Secrets of the Zulu warriors

The Zulu’s Killer Formation
The ‘Buffalo horn’ or ‘bull-horn’ formation was the core battle strategy of a Zulu army. It had originally been developed for hunting, but Shaka began to use it in battle, with devastating success.
The bulk of the force would be in the middle as the ‘chest’ of the buffalo, made up of battle-hardened warriors. They would charge into the enemy and keep them well and truly occupied while two smaller forces of ‘horns’ would circle around either side to completely surround their foe. The horns were often comprised of younger and faster warriors. A fourth force, the ‘loins’, would be held in reserve ready to provide reinforcements if the enemy looked like they might break out of the Zulu’s deadly trap.