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The town of KwaDakuza (Stanger), was the site of King Shaka’s kraal. At the time of his death, his kingdom stretched from the Mozambique border in the north to the South Coast.

Centre town is the King Shaka Visitor Centre with the rock that he was sitting on when he was assassinated and a memorial to him.

On, or around, 24 September 1828, while his army was away on campaign, Shaka was attacked from behind by his half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana, together with an induna named Mbopa. Despite reportedly begging for his life, he was mortally wounded and managed to make his way about 50 metres to the site of this Visitors Centre where he died.  The supposed same rock has been moved to lie on a grave created for the purpose as it is not known exactly where he was buried. Every year, on the 24th September, there is a ceremony held to remember him.

The visitor centre also has two traditional huts on display. One was used for sleeping and the other for storing food.

Call ahead and use their guide, if you are not already with one. Watch a short, but fascinating video of King Shaka’s life and take the short tour of the memorial site.

***

Brief history:

Born in 1787, the illegitimate son of the Zulu chief Senzangakhona and Nandi, of the Langeni clan. As a young man Shaka joined the army of Dingiswayo and soon became its highest commander. With the support of Dingiswayo he gained supremacy over the Zulu clan.

Within 5 years  of Dingiswayo’s death, and Shaka taking control, the areas around him were depopulated, clans and clan structure smashed and smoking ruins remained. Under Shaka (1819-1828), the Zulu territory expanded phenomenally. He built an army of more than forty thousand warriors. Two million of Shaka’s enemies (from any tribes in his path as well as any in his own group he felt threatened or angered by) died during his decade of power.

Shaka as Military Commander:

“Like all the clans, the Zulu were armed with ox hide shields and spindly throwing spears. Battles were little more than brief and relatively bloodless clashes in which the outnumbered side prudently gave way before too many casualties occurred. Shaka, however, fought for extermination, incorporating the remnants of the clans he smashed into the Zulu.” Shaka was, it is said, an innovator but some good scholars talk of his borrowing of tactics used by tribes, earlier. He first “rearmed his men with long-bladed, short-shafted stabbing assegais, which forced them to fight at close quarters. He then instituted the regimental system based on age groups, quartered at separate kraals (villages) and distinguished by uniform markings on shields and by various combinations of headdress and ornaments.

He developed standard tactics, which the Zulu used in every battle. The available regiments (known collectively as the impi) were divided into four groups. The strongest, termed the “chest,” closed with the enemy to pin him down while two “horns” raced out to encircle and attack the foe from behind. A reserve, known as the “loins,” was seated nearby, with its back to the battle so as not to become unduly excited, and could be sent to reinforce any part of the ring if the enemy threatened to break out. The battle was supervised by indunas, or officers, who used hand signals to direct the regiments.

The first Europeans arrived in Port Natal (Durban) in 1824. A dozen settlers of the Farewell Trading Company established a post on the landlocked bay and soon made contact with Shaka…. Fascinated by their ways and their artefacts but convinced that his own civilization was much superior, he permitted them to stay.

In 1827 Nandi died, and with his mother’s death Shaka became openly psychotic. About 7,000 Zulus were killed in the initial explosion of his grief, and for a year no crops were planted, nor could milk, the basis of the Zulu diet, be used. All women found pregnant were slain with their husbands, as were thousands of milking cows, so that even the calves might know what it was to lose a mother.” Britannica

His own behaviour lead to his murder.

Some scholars feel that “Shaka’s line was relatively short-lived and receives undue attention, compared to other, longer established lines and rulers in the region.” Wiki

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  • Price Range Children R5 - Adults: R10
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