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ZULU!

Going to South Africa and not visiting Zululand is like going to Southern California and not visiting Disneyland. It would be like going to Memphis and not visiting Graceland. I do not understand how anyone could miss it when you have the chance.

The  Kwazulu Natal Province is probably the gem of South Africa. It ranges from the warm white sand beaches on the Indian Ocean to the peaks of the Drakensberg mountains. In between is the homeland of a great culture, which by the way still exists today, the Zulu Nation.

The Zulu Nation can arguably be called the creation of Shaka. Shaka was the illegitimate son of a king. His rise to power was ruthless with murder and fratricide. One legend has him tossing  the mother of a rival into a hut with a few hyenas, who of course ate her, then burning the hut to the ground.

He was also a politician of sorts. He managed to integrate rival tribes under the banner of the Zulu nation. In an act of gratitude he undoubtedly later regretted, he allowed British settlers on his territory in thanks for a British doctor who saved the king after an assassination attempt.

shaka

No true contemporary portraits of Shaka exist. This is idealistically sound. The necklace is still worn in Zululand, in fact my wife owns one now.

During his rule he would fight both the British and the Boers. His first major battle against Europeans was against the Voortrekkers. These were Boers who decided that their manifest destiny was northward from the cape and into what they considered virgin territory. But the Zulu considered the area their homeland. He also fought epic battles against British forces. One of these is immortalized in a movie called Zulu starring Micheal Caine. This was the Battle of Rorke’s Drift  which the Zulus actually lost, but it was preceded by  the battle of  Isandlwana a day before, where the Zulu kicked some serious butt.

Shaka is remembered as a great innovator of warfare. He went up against the modern european weapons with swords.  He had his warriors abandon the long throwing spear, mainly because you only got one chance with it. Instead he developed a short spear for up close and personal warfare. He also changed the tip of this spear so that when you stabbed someone with it, the results were almost always fatal.

Shak spear head

If you get stabbed with this spear, called the Iklwa, and then have it ripped out of you, a drink is the last thing you need.

His other innovation was the formation of the  famous “bull horn” formation. It was composed of three elements:

  1. The main force, the “chest,” closed with the enemy and held  it in position. The warriors who comprised the “chest” were senior veterans.
  2. The “horns. While the enemy was pinned by the “chest,” the horns  would flank the enemy from both sides and encircle it; in conjunction with the “chest” they would then destroy the trapped force. The warriors who comprised the “horns” were young and fast juniors.
  3. The “loins,” a large reserve, was placed, seated, behind the “chest” with their backs to the battle. The “loins” would be committed wherever the enemy threatened to break out of the encirclement.

The scheme was elegant in its simplicity, and well understood by the warriors assigned to each echelon. It was almost always successful. Shaka has been compared to Napoleon for his understanding and development of tactics.

But enough history. This is a travel blog, right?

Shakaland

When you get to Zululand, you definitely want to stay at Shakaland.

Shakaland is is an authentically recreated Zulu village. It is more than a tourist attraction. You get a good feeling for the people and their timeless customs.

Shakaland village

we stayed in an authentically recreated village.

beehive hut

In an authentically recreated beehive hut.

shakasunset

We watched an authentically recreated sunset over an authentically recreated lake.

shaka musician

While we drank authentically recreated Zulu beer we listened to Zulu music, live.

The Zulu girls like to sit around and gossip like girls anywhere.

The Zulu girls like to sit around and gossip like girls anywhere.

me dancing

As the music picked, and the Zulu beer kicked in, I got out of my seat and had to dance, at least an authentically recreated form of dancing.

zulu maiden

The maiden would not dance with me.

zulu bop

I guess I did alright, I got a bop afterwards.

zulu king

The authentically recreated King just watched, and probably laughed at me.

next Zulu king

But I got the last laugh when I usurped his authentically recreated throne.

next Zulu Queen

Meanwhile an authentically recreated Zulu warrior tried to make off with my wife. “Hey wanna see my basket?”

Once again I owe thanks to Southern Eagle Travel and Tours  for finding Shakaland for us. And no, they do not pay me to do this even in authentically recreated Rands.

Please share this with someone. Anyone. Please make a comment, or at least an authentically recreated comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response so far.

  1. nicon77 says:

    Loved this authentically recreated post! I want to go to Disneyland– er, Zululand. It looks like fun.

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