The Zulu Kingdom, centred between the Drakensburg Mountains and the Indian Ocean, emerged in the early 19 th century under the command of the great Zulu warrior-king Shaka.
Shake was a young warrior who became the leader of the Zulus in 1816. He was an extraordinary leader, he quickly built up his tribe until it was the most powerful in south Africa. Between 1820s and 1830s there was war and destruction in the central plateau. For the Zulus it was the mfecane, or “crushing”. The Zulus aggressively attacked and defeated other tribes in their area. their success was due to Shaka’s military brilliance and ferocity. He organized his society for warfare end developed an effective style of fighting that involved the use of short stabbing spears. As his power grew, he appears to have become mentally unstable. He increasingly ordered the deaths of his men for no apparent reason . Finally he was assassinated in 1827 by to of his half-brothers. This period of warfare between the tribes, left the Africans weaker than before and more vulnerable to continual demand of the Europeans for more land
The Zulu nation originally had no quarrel with the British. But the British came to see the Zulu as a threat. In the 1870, spurred by a desire for trade and profit, the British sought to bring the Zulu and other independent African nations, along with the Boer republics of south Africa under their control. The stage was set for a war.
The conflict between the Zulu and the British continued. During the 1870s, the British where looking for a pretext to completely defeat the Zulus. The British ordered the Zulus to disband their arm and predictably the Zulus chief, Cetshwayo, refused. On this pretext the British army marched into Zululand. The Zulu, with vastly inferior weapons, killed 1500 British and defeated the army at Islandhlwana. It was a remarkable achievement, and the greatest victory ever won by Africans against Europeans.