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Shaka Ilembe

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Zulu warrior tools explained – Shaka iLembe

20 July 2023
From umkhonto and ihawu to isagila, ziyakhala kuShaka iLembe.
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Zulu warriors are fierce fighters and their tools are designed to complement their fighting style. Below, we explain some of the war tools you may have seen in the action scenes of your favourite show.

Umkhonto (spear)

Made famous by the Zulu king, Shaka kaSenzangakhona, umkhonto is used to attack. Whether crafted from steel or wood, it is among the best weapons as it keeps the opponent at a distance and has amazing force behind each attack. Umkhonto has withstood the test of time.

Ihawu (shield)

Ihawu is used by various ethnic groups among the Nguni people. In war, the purpose of this weapon is to take cover or knock the enemy off balance (depending on the size). In the past, ihawu was believed to have medicinal and magical powers to give warriors strength and protection. Oval in shape, it is hand-crafted from cowhide or goatskin and can be tall enough to cover the owner’s body.

Isagila/iwisa (knobkerrie)

Isagila is a heavy handmade fighting stick with a fist-sized head. It is used during fights and can be aimed at small animals during hunting.

To learn more about the uses of war tools, watch Shaka iLembe every Sunday at 20:00 on Mzansi Magic. If you miss an episode, catch up with DStv here.

Find us on social media: Facebook (Mzansi Magic), Twitter (@Mzansimagic), Instagram (MzansiMagic), and TikTok (@mzansimagictv). Use the hashtag #ShakaiLembeMzansi. Watch it on Sundays on Mzansi Magic DStv channel 161 and the repeat on Fridays at 21:30.

Shaka iLembe's headline sponsor is Telkom. Associate sponsors are Grant's Whisky and LottoStar, while tactical sponsors are Santam and Toyota SA.