Shaka was the illegitimate son of a Zulu chief, who came to prominence as a general of the neighbouring Mthethwa. After wresting leadership of the Zulu, he embarked on a series of campaigns and raids, expanding the Zulu kingdom by conquest, vassalage and displacement. He is credited with a number of military innovations, including the ‘Bull Horn’ battle formation used to encircle enemies, the iklwa stabbing spear and the introduction of rigorous drilling and discipline. The Mfecane (‘rippling migration’) of tribes in the region has been ascribed to his attacks (although, later historians assign European incursions greater responsibility). Displaced tribes formed new kingdoms: the Ndebele in Zimbabwe under Mzilikazi, and the Ndwandwe in Swaziland. The Sotho Kingdom was formed from a defensive confederation of mountain clans against the Zulu threat. In 1828, Shaka was assassinated by his half-brother, Dingaan, who would suffer defeat at the hands of encroaching Voortrekkers.
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