History of the Zulu People

warriors dancing

The history of the Zulu people can be traced back to the 19th century hero, Shaka Zulu, who, after the death of his father Senzangakhona, conquered many nations and amalgamated them under his reign, thus creating a huge Zulu nation. The name AmaZulu literally means “the people of heaven.” Shaka was the third born son of Senzangakhona. When Senzangakhona died in 1816, Shaka took over the reigns and within a time period of twelve years he became the greatest leader of his time. He formed the phenomenal nation of the Zulu people. During his wars that were known as Mfecane (or Difaqane), many people fled KwaZulu-Natal, then known as Natal, and moved north, spreading along their paths the IsiZulu language. In 1828 Dingaan, Shaka’s brother, assassinated him. After Shaka’s death in1828, Dingaan became the king of the Zulus but was killed in the battle of Ncome. However, the Zulu people won this battle. Cetshwayo, his brother, took over the reigns and in 1879 the Zulu warriors defeated the British in the battle of Isandlwana. In 1887 the British annexed Natal, today known as KwaZulu-Natal, and later incorporated Natal into a colony. Many of the cultures, customs, and traditions of Shaka’s time remain the corner stones of the Zulu people, and each year the Zulu nation celebrates the Heritage Day during which they commemorate their hero, Shaka Zulu and also revive their cultural traditions.