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Men, ordinary men, fight the wars that are caused by leaders. These wars are always made out to be something to be proud of. Patriotism is the usual call, the fight is a righteous fight, the enemy is in the wrong and has to be destroyed. Men either join the army voluntarily or are conscripted. They then fight bravely – you kill or are killed.
When patriotism is not available to ensure loyalty and a will to fight and when coercion is not effective loyalty of the fighters has to be found in something else. Shaka instituted loyalty to the regiment as the driving force. Each regiment had its own distinctive shields and battle ornamentation. The French Foreign Legion adopted the same stratagem.
While men fought the wars the women and children stayed behind. The have almost always been the people who have suffered the most. With the men gone off to war they have had to see to all the multitude of matters that needed to be done. If their men were defeated, as happened in all wars, they suffered far more than the men suffered. Women have been the victims of wars. Death, torture, rape, mutilation, being carried off as prizes, severed for ever from their families and people have been their invariable lot.
Shaka continued the unification of the numerous Zulu tribes into a nation which had been started by his mentor Dingiswayo. Shaka’s childhood had ensured that he grew up with a burning hatred in his heart and a burning ambition to be the best and greatest warrior. The result was that when he was an adult he had not a vestige of kindness in him.
Of all the Zulus, Shaka is the best known and the man whose influence on South Africa and indeed on the world is still felt. His reign was one of terror which upset the lives of by far the greater majority of people in South Africa and even had the British government at the Cape Colony troubled.
His wars, total wars, uprooted millions of people who fled helter skelter across the length and breadth of a major portion of South Africa. He destroyed the age old civilisation and culture of the Zulus, turning his country into a massive military establishment.
This is a story evolved around those violent times. About the irrepressible need of men and women to lead normal lives. About the need to love and be loved and to lead normal lives within the family context. About one young warrior’s long lone battle to achieve a modicum of normality in this abnormal country.
It is about the effects of suppressing the basic biological needs of men and women and how this influenced their daily lives. The daily fear, the ever present possibility of death at the whim of a tyrant is shown in its stark reality.
This book is a novel about the life of a warrior who as a young boy during the reign of Shaka was at first an udibi and then a warrior. Udibi’s were young boys of sixteen to eighteen years of age whose duties were when an impi went on an expedition to carry food, water and the sleeping mats of the warriors for the first two days and then to return to their homes, living off the land. This youngster was fifteen years old but slipped in with the older boys and became and udibi. His is a story of seeing Shaka and the manner of his waging war; his cruelty and total disregard of the life and age old customs of the people at first hand.
He was given the name Ugqoyi – the Lustful One – by Shaka when on coming to the aid of a detachment of one hundred warriors they had rescued those men from certain death. At his enquiring from Shaka whether the Udibi who had performed this deed, would they also be required to cleanse themselves from the killing by sula izemba, having sexual intercourse with the first willing maiden that they came across, Shaka gave him this name.
On the death of Shaka’s mother, Nandi, Shaka’s cruelty came to the fore in all its ferocity. Saying that the warriors did not grieve sufficiently he paraded all the warriors naked, and paraded the regiments of maiden also naked in front of the warriors