Book Review – The Assassination Of King Shaka

The Assassination Of King Shaka: Zulu History’s Dramatic Moment by John Laband (Jonathan Ball) ISBN: 9781868428076

There are few more qualified writers than John Laband to write an academic but engaging book about the revered and remembered almighty maker of the Zulu kingdom.

Many South African academics and authors have attempted to draw this story together through various oral traditions, early Cape Colony and Port Natal government documents, and written accounts of the reign of Shaka, King of the Zulu. This account focuses very much on the journey Shaka’s military campaigns took to arrive at the point where his rule became a perceived threat to the kingdom itself.

Laband presents many viewpoints on why the king’s half-brothers killed him and what that dramatic moment meant for the Zulu people. It is certain that the shadows cast by Shaka’s assassination stretch into cultural beliefs and attitudes among South Africans to this very day.

It was inspiring and humbling to read a book so relevant and yet so alien to my own South African experience. The account left me feeling nourished and educated on an aspect of South African heritage that I did not previously appreciate.

Justine Cullinan

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