Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c. 1787 – 1828), also known as Shaka Zulu (also spelled Tshaka or Chaka), was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom.
He was born in the year of 1787 near present-day Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal Province. Due to persecution as a result of his illegitimacy, Shaka spent his childhood in his mother’s settlements where he was initiated into an ibutho lempi (fighting unit). In his early days, Shaka served as a warrior under the sway of Dingiswayo.
Shaka went on to further refine the ibutho system used by Dingiswayo and others and, with the Mthethwa empire’s support over the next several years, forged alliances with his smaller neighbours, to counter the growing threat from Ndwandwe raids from the north.