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Shaka Zulu: Military Genius and the Legacy of the Mfecane (APA 7th Edition)

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Question: Discuss Shaka Zulu's rise to power, his military innovations, and how it led to the start of the Mfecane? Please include in-text citation APA 7th referencing style

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Shaka Zulu, born in 1787, was an exceptional military and political leader who significantly influenced the transformation of Zulu society. Despite his upbringing as an outcast, he used his strategic and organizational abilities to rise to power as a king (Buchan, 1937). Shaka Zulu's rise to power commenced upon the death of his father, Senzangakhona KaJama, when he overcame his half brother, Sigujana, and assumed the Zulu chieftainship. This position provided him with the platform to initiate his military and political innovations (Knight, 1986). Shaka’s military innovations were notable and effectively utilized by the Zulu warriors. He started by revolutionizing military tactics, introducing the "Impi" system which grouped warriors according to their age and similar level of training (Mostert, 1992). Innovatively, he replaced the long throwing assegai with a shorter stabbing spear known as "Iklwa," upgrading the warrior's attacking prowess. Additionally, larger cowhide shields were developed to provide better protection (Knight, 1986). Shaka proposed the ‘buffalo’ formation, composed of three parts - the horns aimed at encircling and confusing enemies, the chest attacked the enemy directly, and the loins stayed back to provide reinforcement as needed. This formation ultimately caused enemies to lose stamina quickly (Buchan, 1937). These innovations eventually led to the initiation of the Mfecane (Scattering). As Shaka’s empire expanded, the pressure and displacement his wars caused greatly affected surrounding kingdoms. Surrounding tribes collapsed or fled, which in turn caused others to displace, creating a chain reaction ultimately known as the Mfecane (Hamilton, 1985). References: Buchan, J. (1937). The History of South Africa. Nelson. Hamilton, C. (Ed.). (1985). The Mfecane Aftermath: Reconstructive Debates in Southern African History. University of the Witwatersrand Press. Knight, I. (1986). Warrior Chiefs of Southern Africa: Shaka of the Zulu, Moshoeshoe of the Basuto, Mzilikazi of the Matabele, Maqoma of the Xhosa. Firebird. Mostert, N. (1992). Frontiers: The Epic of South Africa's Creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa People. Alfred A. Knopf.

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March 16, 2024, 3:47 a.m.

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Published: Saturday, March 16, 2024

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