Draken Origins – Episode 3: King Shaka

For the 2021 launch of the Tugela, we’ve added an exclusive version called the ‘Shaka’. No, we didn’t name it after the surfer gesture of appreciation 🤙 , but in fact after the legendary Zulu warrior king – Shaka.

Who was Shaka?

The story of how Shaka came to power reads like an episode of Game of Thrones.

Shaka reigned over the Zulu tribe of South Africa between 1816 and 1828. When his father died in 1816, Shaka’s younger half-brother assumed power, being of the legitimate bloodline.

Another chief, Dingiswayo, convinced Shaka to overthrow his half-brother. Dingiswaya lent Shaka a regiment who were the hired muscle in a relatively bloodless coup which ended in his half-brother being sentenced to death.

When Dingiswayo died a year later at the hands of another powerful chief – Zwide, there was a large power vacuum. Shaka united the scattered people of Dingiswayo’s tribe. He sought out revenge against Zwide who at first escaped his clutches. Zwide’s sangoma (or shaman) was not so lucky and was met with a particularly gruesome fate, Shaka locked her in a house and placed jackals or hyenas inside. They devoured her and, in the morning, Shaka burned the house to the ground. Many years later Shaka and Zwide met on the battlefield and Shaka had his revenge.

The above battle was one of many that the Zulus won. Once a small tribe of about 1500 people, but under Shaka’s leadership, the Zulus grew to an army of more than 50,000 warriors (Impi). They became a fierce and formidable tribe. His brilliant military tactics granted them victory over may other tribes, which he integrated into the Zulu tribe.

One of the well-known military tactics he employed was the bull and horns manoeuvre, where an enemy army was flanked on both sides, while being attacked from the front by the main group. He also hardened his warriors by forbidding them to wear sandals, allowing for a quicker more agile soldier. His other great invention was the ‘assegai’ – a short stabbing spear with a long blade – which proved fatal at close range for other tribes who still used throwing spears. It is said that the Zulus also used the practice of creating cairns (piles of stones) as a way of recording the size of the army that has been to, and returned from an area.

Coincidentally, the nylon straps we ship with all Tugelas are called Zulu straps. In case you were wondering how they differ from Nato straps: they only have one strip of nylon and 3 rings at the end, so there is less material between your wrist and the watch. In my opinion, this makes for a comfier wear.

If you are interested in learning more about this formidable African leader, check out the article on Wikipedia.

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