Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Badass #2 - Shaka Zulu

Just hearing the word "Zulu" brings visions of great warriors and a strong and proud people into my mind.  Zulu warriors are legendary.  They are know for their strength, bravery and toughness.  So it stands to reason that the greatest Zulu of all time would make the Baddest of the Badasses List!

Shaka Zulu is this badass!  He was the founder of the Zulu kingdom.  On top of that, he was named after an intestinal parasite. I would say carrying the name of a pesky parasite that makes you vomit and poop all day makes you kind of a badass no matter what.  Shaka had the stuff to back it up. 

Shaka was a natural born killer.  He revolutionized the way wars were fought in Africa.  Before Shaka's time, the two sides would hurl spears at each other for days until one side gave up.  Shaka said Screw That!  He decided he would dodge the flying spears and sprint to the other side, then start stabbing everyone he could until they ran.  His propensity for hand-to-hand combat made him a celebrity amongst his people and feared by other tribes.  He quickly rose up the ranks of the warriors. 

He didn't get rid of spears entirely, but created a new spear called assegai.  He also decided to add machetes and curved spears called Iklwas to the Zulu arsenal.  Shaka decided to make the tiny shields long and wide, in order to give more protection.  He also started a physical training program for the warriors that was so rigid, many died before completing it just out of exhaustion.  And if you looked as though you were tired, kiss your butt goodbey.  Any warrior who was under his command that showed pain, whined, or dropped his weapon was executed on the spot as a coward.  Shaka saw the need for fitness and bravery in his warriors. 

During Shaka Zulu's reign, the Zulu empire expanded from about 2,000 people in 1817 to about 250,000 at the time of his death in 1828.  It also became one of the largest empires during its day, covering more than 2 million square miles.  The reason for the huge increase in numbers was his surrender proposition.  He would give his enemies two options:  Join his tribe or be killed.  Obviously, most people ended up joining the Zulu tribe and honestly, who wouldn't want to be in the Zulu Nation?  They kicked ass everytime they fought.  Thus, he usually finished a battle with more warriors than when he started. 

In the end, Shaka's propensity for violence and acting like a tyrant against his own people led to his downfall.  He was a paranoid dude who believed in witches.  He claimed he could smell a witch and if you smelled like one, you would be burned immediately.  He also would kill anyone that looked at him funny.  He enjoyed having public mass executions of people that he felt were not "with him." 

The most famous demonstration of Shaka's insane psychosis happened after his mom died.  The saddened ruler ordered a three-month period of mourning for all the Zulu people, in which no one was allowed to eat anything.  If you ate, you would be killed.  He also decided to kill a bunch of cows so that the calves would know what it was like to lose a mother.  After that, he was still feeling a little down so he went around executing 7,000 people who "didn't look sad enough".

He was quickly losing his popular support as he mistreated his people.  He was assassinated in 1828 by his brothers, who dumped his body in an unmarked grave and buried him under huge stones so he could never, ever get out. In the end, his badassedness was his undoing. But no matter what you think of the man, there is no denying that he was a badass and one of the greatest military minds of his time.

Don't forget to check out Andrew Jackson, who was our first badass on the list (This is in no particular order)

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