Senzangakhona, the tribal king, is without male children. He decides to marry again so that he can have a male offspring for the kingship. He is attracted to Nandi and, overcome by her beauty, takes her when they are not yet married, in violation of tribal law. She becomes pregnant, whereupon the two are married secretly. Chaka is born. The other wives are jealous of Nandi and her son Chaka, and they threaten to expose Senzangakhona for impregnating Nandi before marriage. In the meantime, other male heirs to the throne are born.
Senzangakhona banishes Nandi and Chaka to another village. At first, he sends them cattle and sheep to help, but when this is discovered by his wives he is forced to discontinue the presents. Chaka grows up lonely—an outcast from his father and from the other young boys, who torment him as an outsider. He learns early to fight and to seek and take vengeance.
Chaka’s courage and boldness grow, as does his strength. He performs deeds of heroism that make him a favorite in the village rather than an outcast. He kills a lion that was terrorizing the people. Later, he kills a hyena as it dragged a girl away.
While bathing in the river, Chaka is visited by an ominous snake. The event foretells that Chaka is destined to greatness. His mother, having witnessed the event, tries to visit a sorcerer, but it is learned that the woman died after arranging for Chaka and Nandi to consult her own master in sorcery, Isanusi.
Chaka becomes the most likely successor to the tribal kingship, and a dispute arises with Mfokanzana, the chosen heir. Chaka is forced to flee the village after his father, Senzangakhona, arrives and orders Chaka killed.
Upon fleeing the village, Chaka meets the sorcerer Isanusi, who likes the young man and promises him that if he will obey in all things that he will one day inherit his father’s kingship, which is rightfully his by birth. Chaka agrees. Isanusi makes several different kinds of medicine with which he strengthens Chaka and his resolve.
Chaka, who previously told his...
(The entire section is 853 words.)