Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire

Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire

Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire

Shaka Zulu: The Rise of the Zulu Empire

Excerpt

VERY on the Izi-cwe regiment was doctored again for war. The biggest black bull available was driven into the cattle-kraal of the military barracks, and for an hour chased round and round. Then the regiment hurled itself on the animal with bare hands. Some of them were hurt, but the rest of them got a grip on the bull, wherever they could, and threw it to the ground. Then using the horns as levers they twisted its neck till the spinal cord was broken. The witch-doctors then got busy and cut off the parts required for the medicine -- a mixture of herbs and stewed bull's meat made into a soup. The rest of the bull was roasted.

The warriors then filed past the witch-doctors, who gave each one some of the decoction to drink, while some of it was sprinkled over the person with an ox-tail. Now the warriors each had to go to a deeply dug pit and vomit, and thereafter repair to the cattle- kraal. Here bits of the roasted bull were thrown into the air, and each warrior had to catch a piece and eat it. After each one had partaken of this meat, whatever remained of the bull was completely incinerated, and the ashes buried.

In the following campaign Dingiswayo took personal command of the Izi-cwe regiment, brigaded with the Yengondlovu regiment. The year was 1810 and Shaka twenty-three years old. When the army marched its destination was only known to senior officers. Its first halt, after reaching the Umhlatuzi river, was present-day Melmoth. Zulu armies were fed by a supply of cattle 'on the hoof' and some grain.

Much interest was displayed by Shaka's comrades in the fact that he wore no sandals, and in the single massive stabbing-assegai . . .

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