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Authors: Walton Golightly

Shaka the Great

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Born in 1966, Walton Golightly is a freelance writer from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal—on the doorstep of what used to be the Zulu Kingdom. He's a film buff with a passion for spaghetti Westerns, seventies action movies and the films of Sam Peckinpah and Jean-Luc Godard. He shares his life with a few thousand books and two dogs. Occasionally the dogs let him sleep on the bed.

Also by Walton Golightly



Being The Further Adventures Of The Induna &
The Boy Among The People Of The Sky
In The Time Of Shaka KaSenzangakhona, King Of Kings,
In Which Are Encountered Many Strange & Wondrous Things,
Such As Zombies, A Vanishing Man & Sly Sangomas,
Not To Mention White Men & Sundry Other Savages

Walton Golightly

New York • London

© 2011 by Walton Golightly

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of the same without the permission of the publisher is prohibited.

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Street, 6
Floor, New York, NY 10019, or to
[email protected]

ISBN 978-1-62365-272-2

Distributed in the United States and Canada by Random House Publisher Services
c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

For Norm Gillespie

Who had to leave early

Reader, there are, in truth … two kinds of history, as different from each other as chalk and cheese. There is
history and there is

Town history … relies on facts and figures. It is knowing … Beginning in the shadow of the law courts, at the end of the day your town history tends to the universities—it becomes academic … Offering proofs, it never strains credulity. But sometimes it can't see the Forest of Arden for the trees …

Your country history is a different matter. Country history is faithful and open-ended. It is a tale told by various idiots on the village green, all busy contradicting themselves in the name of a common truth. It exaggerates and enflames what it talks about. It delights in lies and gossip. It is unwise. Wild and mystical and passionate, it is ruled by the heart. Beginning by the glow of the hearth, at the end of the night your country history tends to pass into balladry and legend—it becomes poetic. Country history is fanciful and maggoty. Easy to mock, it always strains belief. But sometimes it catches the ghostly coat-tails of what is otherwise ungraspable …

The Late Mr. Shakespeare
by Robert Nye

Happy was our laughter there where death became absurd and life still more so.

Wilfred Owen



Potsherds & Ostraca

The Sprouting Moon

How The Induna Came To Serve Shaka

Alarums & Excursions

How The Induna Went Up A Mountain To Beard A Buffalo

Shattering The Calabash

A Night In Africa


Select Bibliography

Main Characters

The Zulus

Shaka KaSenzangakhona

King of the Zulus. Born in the 1790s.
Seized the throne in 1816


Shaka's prime minister


Commander-in-chief of the Zulu army


Three of Shaka's half-brothers




Shaka's most trusted general


A sangoma


A renowned Uselwa Man


Two of his sons



The brother of Ntokozo's chief wife


A brewer renowned for the quality of his beer


A wealthy trader, also known as the Bead Man


Shaka's favorite concubine


Shaka's mother


Sister of Senzangakhona KaJama and hence one of Shaka's aunts


Ntokozo's chief wife; mother of Vuyile


Another of Ntokozo's wives; mother of Gudlo


Masipula's daughter

The Izilwane


Ruler of the Thembus


His chief adviser


King of the Qwabes

Henry Fynn

English traders

Francis Farewell

James King

Jakot Msimbithi

Their Xhosa interpreter; called Hlambamanzi, the Swimmer, by Shaka


It is Untlolanja, the Time of the Fucking Dog: the month of the December–January moon when dogs are believed to be more interested in fornication than food, fleas and fighting. It's also the month that marks the culmination of the First Fruits. Traditionally, the final Umkhosi rituals are conducted by the various village chiefs around the kingdom as well as by the King, their ceremonies mirroring his, but Shaka has decreed that from this year on only the King himself may conduct the rites that conclude the First Fruits.

And so they have come, the People Of The Sky. Leaving their swollen, alluring crops under the watchful eyes of caretakers threatened with a myriad of dire consequences should any harm befall the fields and groves, all but those in the furthest, most inaccessible reaches of the kingdom have journeyed to KwaBulawayo, Shaka's capital, the Place of He Who Kills.

And the amabutho, the Zulu regiments, they have come as well. The Amawombe, with their dun-colored cowhide shields. The Umgumanqa, whose white shields are speckled with red hairs like spatters of blood. The Isiklebhe, who have gray shields the color of the morning mist and pride themselves on their stealth. The Iziyendane, made up of long-haired Hlubis, men of Lala and Swazi stock, carrying rust-colored shields. And there are others, including, of course, the Ufasimba, the “Blue Haze,” with their black shields; one of the first ibutho to have been taught Shaka's new tactics, they remain his favorite regiment. Each comprising men of the same age group, the amabutho have come in all their finery, eager to outdo the other regiments with their war songs and dances, the discipline displayed in their parade-ground maneuvers, the skill with which they wield shield and spear. It's the largest mustering of
the Zulu army in the whole history of the nation, and a show of force partly intended as an ever-present reminder to the White Men of the chastisement Shaka can call down upon them should his guests forget their place, and the signal honor he has bestowed on them.

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