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Shaka Zulu: Assassination, Greed, and Insanity

[Image Source: Shaka Zulu: The Citadel (2001)]

On September 24, 1828, Shaka KaSenzangakhona, the founder of the Zulu Empire, uttered his last words, saying, “Are you stabbing me?” How iconic! But why was Shaka assassinated? One might imagine that greed and the desire to take control of the Zulu empire might have been the motive, but this is only half of the story. Shaka and his empire became a mighty military power, conquering vast lands and forcing peoples out of their respective regions, gaining control of territories nearby and all modern-day Natal. But this is not what caused the anger leading to Shaka’s demise. When Shaka’s mother died, Shaka became… let us say… unnatural. He forced everyone to grieve and killed anyone he believed was not grieving enough, leading to the death of about 7,000 people. Furthermore, Shaka killed pregnant women and their husbands for no reason, and then outlawed food from being planted as well as the use of milk. Of course, people enjoyed their milk too much, and obviously did not take too kindly to the random killings.

This was when Shaka’s two half-brothers decided to take the throne off Shaka’s hands in a… less-than-kind-way: assassination. However, this assassination was more of a trial-and-error sort of ordeal as they failed the first few times. They eventually Perfected their craft, though, leading to Shaka’s true last words, which were translated to, “Are you stabbing me, kings of the earth? You will come to an end through killing one another” (Boddy-Evans). He uttered these words while being killed by his half-brothers, but it may be fair considering this was the same way Shaka gained control--by murdering his older brother. Apparently, what Shaka meant was that the new rulers would be killed as well, and by each other, which tracks based on how Shaka gained the throne. Thankfully, much of the harm done by Shaka was undone and the lives of the people killed will be remembered.

Learn more by watching the movie free on Roku!


Works Cited

Boddy-Evans, Alistair. “The Assassination of Shaka Zulu (September 24, 1828).” ThoughtCo, Feb. 2019,

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