Chaka (SHAH-kah), the most powerful of all Zulu warriors and kings. At first, Chaka is depicted as an undeserving victim in every respect. Because of circumstances of birth, he cannot peacefully ascend to his father’s kingship. Moreover, he and his mother, Nandi, are driven from his father’s house by the other wives. Chaka is described as having the most painful of childhoods because of this banishment. Even so, he acts the part of the hero-warrior, destroying a lion, hyena, and madman, all enemies of the tribe. Midway through his life, however, Chaka transforms himself from protagonist to antagonist. He sells his being to the control of the witch doctor Isanusi, after which his own moral destruction is assured. Isanusi gives him everything as promised, but the price Chaka must pay is an unquenchable thirst for blood. Chaka conquers all, but to do so he must make medicine from the blood of those whom he loves. He murders, in turn, his son, wife, and mother. Chaka never loses a battle and incessantly conquers more lands and peoples, yet he never attains any satisfaction or happiness in life. He dies alone and to everyone’s manifest relief.
Senzangakhona (sayn-zahn-gah-KOH-nah), Chaka’s father. King Senzangakhona violates the moral code of his tribe by impregnating Nandi before they are married. the long-awaited son, Chaka, is...
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