For a people who can claim a common identity that is less than 250 years old, the Zulu have certainly achieved a worldwide following and fame. Perhaps it is their reputation as fearless warriors. It could also be their culture, which is rich and colorful. Whatever the magic formula is, Zulu is a name which is recognized almost all over the world. The interesting thing is that most people have heard about them and yet know very little about them. But in the relatively short time that they have been identified as a common tribe, they have certainly gained an oversized reputation. Fortunately, most of it is well justified.
The Early Zulu History
The Zulu are actually a subgroup of the Bantu, a large sub-Saharan tribe that has members in most parts of the southern African continent. Originally, the Zulu were composed of hundreds of small clans spread out across the eastern end of South Africa, in the area commonly referred to as kwaZulu-Natal. This was a fairly rowdy lot, often competing against each other for the choicest grazing areas, the best cattle, and the most desirable dwellings. At the time, they were not terribly violent. Yes, they often got quite upset with each other, but they expressed this more with shouting matches or throwing a few small objects back and forth. In some ways, their encounters resembled the scene at a modern-day car accident. But then the illegitimate son of a local chieftain came of age, and many things changed.
The Era of Shaka Zulu
Shaka was literally thrown out from his clan, along with his mother, which was a fairly uncommon practice at the time. But the experience proved to be beneficial for him, and he developed a personality which was both strong and fearless. He also changed the way Zulus interacted with each other and the outside world. A ruthless warrior, he developed the short-thrusting spear, which became the weapon of choice among Zulu warriors. Armed with this novel weapon, he conquered large swaths of not only the Zulu nation but also adjoining territories. He is often compared to Napoleon, in terms of his tactics and boldness. The fact is that, at the peak of his powers, he actually lorded over a greater geographic area than Napoleon ever did.
The White Man Arrives
When the colonization of South Africa occurred, the Zulu came face to face with the first white people. First, it was the Boers, and subsequently the British. They fought them bravely, but the Westerners were too many and too well armed. Some of the Zulus fought with the Boers, and some followed the British during the Boers Wars at the turn of the 20th century. Promises of emancipation by the British were not kept, and a growing resentment grew amongst the Zulu. They were instrumental in the fight against apartheid over the last several decades, and once a new democracy was able to flourish in South Africa, they were able to finally live on some of their native lands in peace.
Visiting South Africa
South Africa is an ancient land that has many stories to tell. This is one of the primary reasons why visitors from all over the world come to visit and explore all the wonders that this amazing country has to offer. In almost every large and medium-sized city across South Africa, the Tsogo Sun Hotel chain has a location which offers the same excellent accommodations, providing all of the latest amenities and luxuries that a traveler would expect.