Zulu - History and Cultural Relations



The Zulu have a reputation as "a proud, fierce, recklessly brave though barbaric warrior race" (Ngubane 1977, viii). In 1815 Shaka, a descendant of the Zulu "clan" originator, came to power. Shaka, who is often referred to as the "Black Napoleon," organized a standing army and proceeded to conquer many of the surrounding Nguni "clans." The results of this turbulent period were widespread; tribes such as the Matabele, Shangana, and Ngoni were formed by people fleeing in Shaka's wake. During Shaka's reign, the first European trading company was established in Port Natal (later Durban). Up to that point, there had been only sporadic contact with Whites. In 1828 Shaka was assassinated by his brother Dingane. In 1835 the missionary Gardner established himself among the Zulu. Piet Retief and a number of Boer Trekkers were massacred by Dingane in 1838. After Dingane's defeat at the Battle of Blood River, his brother Mpande made an alliance with the Boers and forced Dingane into exile. In 1843 Natal became a Crown colony. Mpande was succeeded in 1872 by his son Cetshwayo, during whose reign the Zulu war of 1879-1880 took place. Britain established a magistracy in 1887, and in 1910 Natal became a part of the Union of South Africa. The end of the era of effective Zulu monarchs came with the death of Cetshwayo's son, Dinzulu, in 1913. As with the other indigenous South Africans, the Zulu were outcastes in White-controlled South Africa. Establishment of indigenous control in the 1990s brought conflict with the Xhosa and then accommodation. Zulu social, political, and economic interests have been represented since 1975 by the Zulu National Cultural Liberation Movement (Inkatha Ye Sizwe), commonly known as Inkatha or the Inkatha party.

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