Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 265

Chaka is a Zulu king and a powerful warrior. During his childhood, Chaka and his mother were banished from his home by his father's other wives. Despite this mistreatment, he strives to protect the tribe by neutralizing all threats. As an adult, Chaka grants control of his soul to a...

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Chaka is a Zulu king and a powerful warrior. During his childhood, Chaka and his mother were banished from his home by his father's other wives. Despite this mistreatment, he strives to protect the tribe by neutralizing all threats. As an adult, Chaka grants control of his soul to a witch doctor in exchange for the power and success he was denied as a child. Chaka develops a lust for blood, and his continued success requires a medicine made from the blood of loved ones. Chaka conquers much territory and becomes king, but he murders his mother, wife, and son in order to achieve his goals.

Senzangakhona is the tribal king who falls into the tribe's disfavor after conceiving Chaka out of wedlock. This makes Chaka an unviable heir, and his father is forced to banish him and his mother.

Nandi is Chaka's mother who, despite her life-long devotion to him, is murdered for her blood.

Dingiswayo is a king of a neighboring tribe who houses Chaka and Nandi after they are banished. When he dies, Chaka fills his role as king.

Noliwa is Dingiswayo's daughter and Chaka's favorite wife who, too, is murdered.

Zwide is the king of an enemy tribe who is killed by Chaka. Chaka becomes king of Zwide's tribe as well.

Isanusi is the witch doctor who controls Chaka and causes his bloodlust. He is immensely powerful, seeming to influence life and death with his evil ways.

Ndlebe and Malunga are Isanusi's assistants who follow Chaka to ensure he obeys the deal.

Nongogo is Chaka's servant who he kills as well.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 556

Chaka

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

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 therefore doomed from the outset. Unable to control the tongues of his wives who would tell that Nandi was pregnant at the time of the secret marriage, Senzangakhona falls to their demands, first banishing Nandi and Chaka, then later ordering them killed.

Nandi

Nandi (NAHN-dee), Chaka’s mother. Nandi loves Chaka unquestionably and uncontrollably. She acts in his behalf on all counts, yet she, too, is murdered by him in his thirst for blood and battle.

Noliwa

Noliwa (noh-LEE-wah), the daughter of Dingiswayo and favorite wife of Chaka. Beautiful, faithful, and faultless, Noliwa never violates any of Chaka’s wishes or orders. She, too, is murdered by him when the witch doctor orders her death at the hands of Chaka.

Isanusi

Isanusi (ee-sah-NEW-see), who is known by the sundry titles of “doctor,” “sorcerer,” and “witch-doctor.” Isanusi is evil, and he inflicts evil on all of African humanity by tempting Chaka to become his primary instrument. Isanusi, seemingly, is given all power of life and death in this world. He knows and controls all human activity—if not immediately, at least eventually. He delivers on his promise to give Chaka everything, but his price is total obedience. Chaka keeps his part of the bargain.

Ndlebe

Ndlebe (ihn-DLAY-bay) and

Malunga

Malunga (mah-LEWN-gah), two agents of Isanusi. After Chaka and Isanusi make their initial contract, Ndlebe and Malunga are sent to Chaka to assist him in war and politics. They have supernatural powers they use toward that end.

Dingiswayo

Dingiswayo (deen-gee-SWAY-oh), a neighboring king who gives refuge to Nandi and Chaka when they are banished by Senzangakhona. Dingiswayo, a good man, is father to Noliwa. Chaka succeeds to the kingship at Dingiswayo’s death.

Zwide

Zwide (ZWEE-day), another neighboring king and enemy to Dingiswayo and Chaka. Zwide is killed in battle by Chaka after the death of Dingiswayo. Chaka becomes king of Zwide’s domain.

Nongogo

Nongogo (nohn-GOH-goh), a faithful servant to Chaka. Nongogo is murdered by Chaka on the whim of a moment.

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