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Shaka (and variants of the name) refers to the famous Southern African Zulu king and military leader Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c. 1787 –1828)[1],

Better known outside Zulu culture as Shaka Zulu or Shaka, he is also referred to as Chaka, Tshaka or Tsjaka (in Afrikaans), he is a popular character in numerous works of history and fiction in a range of languages.

The character

He is the most legendary of the Zulu kings, a military genius who revolutionized African warfare and subdued a large part of the sub-continent. He was murdered by his brother Dingane, who then assumed the kingship.

Besides a number of novels (notably Chaka, the famous Sotho novel by Thomas Mofolo (1876-1948)[2]), epic poems (e.g. UShaka KaSenzangakhona - "Shaka, Son of Senzangakhona" - by B.W. Vilakazi (1906-1947)[3]), that have been written on his life, there have also been a number of stage and film versions of his life.

Plays and films about Shaka

For the individual plays, click on the particular title for the full entry:

The plays include

Shaka by Sam Gorey, performed by the Soweto Ensemble in 1968.

Tshaka Seripa sa I, II and III (“Tshaka Chapters 1, 2 and 3)” by E.K.K. Matlala,

Ukufa kukaShaka (Zulu) by E. Zondi,

Xaka (Tsonga) by S.J. Baloyi, Bayede-Shaka: The Spear is Born by Edmund 'Muzi' Mhlongo.

Kwadedangendlale by M. Khumalo, an opera based on Vilakazi's epic poem.

Tsjaka by Pieter Fourie (1940-2021), written in 1963 and published as Tsjaka in Afrikaans (by Perskor, Johannesburg), as well as Shaka in English (translated by Sheila Gillham, published by Longman, Cape Town) in 1976.

Shaka Zulu, an epic television series about his life, was made for the SABC by Bill Faure, introducing and starring Henry Cele as Shaka. (See entry on the film at Shaka Zulu )

Ogun Abibiman (1976), an occasional poem by Wole Soyinka, combines the story of Shaka (referred to as "Chaka") and his military impact with the myth of 0gun, the African god of war, in an exhortation of black people fighting for freedom and human rights in Southern Africa. The Shaka section of the poem was performed as play by Soyikwa Players

Shaka Zulu - The Musical (2010) by Samson Khumalo, Sean Else and Deon Opperman.


De Beer, 1995

Nico Luwes 2010. Pieter Fourie (1940-) se bydrae as Afrikaanse dramaturg en kunsbestuurder: 1965-2010. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Bloemfontein: University of the Free State, pp. [4]

Tanure Ojaide. 1982. Wole Soyinka's Ogun Abibiman [5]

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