Zulu Civil War

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Zulu Civil War
Date1818
PlaceZululand, South Africa
ResultZulu victory, Difaquane
Combatants
Zulu Nation Ndwandwe
Commanders
Shaka Zulu
Zwide
Strength
? ?
Casualties
? ?

Zulu Civil War or Ndwandwe-Zulu War in 1817-19 was a war fought between expanding Zulu kingdom and Ndwandwe tribe in South Africa

The Zulus were originally a small tribe that had migrated to the eastern plateau of present-day South Africa; they became a strong tribal nation largely due to the efforts of an ambitious chieftain named Shaka (reigned c. 1787-1828). A rebellious young man, Shaka was estranged from his father, who was a Zulu chief, and became a warrior with the Mthethwa people. The Mthethwa paramount chieftain Dingiswayo helped Shaka become recognized as head of the Zulus after Shaka's father died in 1816. The two chieftains were close friends, and their warriors fought together against common enemies, such as the Ndwandwe headed by King Zwide. After Dingiswayo was murdered by Zwide, the Mthethwa people placed themselves under Shaka and took the Zulu name. Shaka revolutionized traditional ways of fighting by introducing the assegai, a light javelin, as a weapon and by organizing warriors into disciplined units that fought in close formation behind large cowhide shields. In the Battle of Gqokli Hill in 1819, his troops and tactics prevailed over the superior numbers of the Ndwandwe people, who failed to destroy the Zulu in their first encounter.

The Ndwandwe and the Zulus met again in combat at the Battle of Mhlatuze River in 1820. The Zulu tactics again prevailed, pressing their attack when the Ndwandwe army was divided during the crossing of the Mhlatuze River. Zulu warriors arrived at Zwide's headquarters near present-day Nongoma before news of the defeat, and approached the camp singing Ndwandwe victory songs to gain entry. Zwide was killed, and most of the Ndwandwe abandoned their lands and migrated north and eastward. This was the start of the Mfecane, a catastrophic, bloody migration of many different tribes in the area, initially escaping the Zulus, but themselves causing their own havoc after adopting Zulu tactics in war. Shaka was the ultimate victor, and his (more peaceful) descendants still live today throughout Zululand, with customs and a way of life that can be easily traced to Shaka's day.

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