Shaka, king of the Zulus, was born in 1787, the son of Zulu Chief Senzangakhona and his wife, Nandi. When Shaka was 26, his father died and left the throne to a son, Sijuana. Shaka ambushed and killed Sijuana, taking leadership of the Zulus. He came to power around 1818.
A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age and training his men to use standardized weapons and unique tactics.
He invented the “assegai,” a short stabbing spear, and marched his regiments in tight formation, using large shields to debar the enemies throwing spears. Over the years, Shaka’s troops earned such a reputation that a lot of enemies would flee at the sight of them.
With cunning and confidence as his tools, Shaka built a little Zulu tribe into a strong nation of quite 1,000,000 people and united all tribes in South Africa against European colonial rule. The Zulu nation continued to use Shaka’s innovations in wars after his death.
Near the top of the 19th century, British exiled King Prempeh from the hinterlands of the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), to require over. By 1900, still not capture, the British sent a governor to the town of Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti, to demand the Golden Stool, the Ark of the Covenant for the Ashanti people.
The Golden Stool was the supreme symbol of the sovereignty and, therefore, the independence of the Ashanti, nation who inhabited dense rain forests of what’s now the central portion of Ghana. The governor, in no way, understood the sacred significance of the Golden Stool, which, consistent with tradition, contained the soul of the Ashanti.
Nana Yaa Asantewaa was present at the meeting with the governor and chiefs. When the meeting ended, and she or he was alone with the Ashanti chiefs, she said: “Now I even have seen that a number of you fear to fight for our king. If it were within the brave days of old, the times of Osei Tutu, Okomfo Anoyke and Opulu Ware, Ashanti chiefs wouldn’t sit right down to see their king removed without firing an attempt. No man could have dared speak to Ashanti chiefs within the way the governor spoke to you chiefs this morning.”
Nana Yaa Asantewaa’s speech stirred the lads. She said, “If you men won’t proceed, then we the ladies will. I will be able to call upon my fellow women. we’ll fight the white men until the last folks fall within the battlefields.”
The Ashantis, led by Nana Yaa Asantewa, fought very bravely.