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The Birth of Shaka






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The Birth of Shaka. by Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali. Shaka Zulu (1787-1828).
The Birth of Shaka

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The Birth of Shaka

by

MbuyiseniOswald Mtshali

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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  • ShakaZulu (1787-1828)

Shaka Zulu was born in 1787.Shaka established the Zulu Empire and revolutionized warfare in Southern Africa in the early 19th Century.  In 1828, Shaka was assassinated by his half brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana. 

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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His baby crywas of a cubtearing the neckof the lionessbecause he was fatherless.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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The godsboiled his bloodin a clay pot of passionto course in his veins.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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His heart was shaped into an ox shieldto foil every foe.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Ancestors forgedhis muscles intothongs as toughas wattle barkand nervesas sharp assyringa thorns.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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His eyes were lanternsthat shone from the dark valleys of Zululandto see white swallowscoming across the sea.His cry to two assassin brothers:

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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"Lo! you can kill mebut you'll never rule this land!"

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Theme

Title, subject and theme

There is a difference between the subject of a poem and its theme. Explain why the title 'The birth of Shaka' refers to the subject and not the theme

  • The might of Shaka as a great leader is presented and his prowess as a warrior and ability to predict the future is examined.

  • From the three sentences below, select the one that you feel best describes the theme (or central idea) that the poem communicates to the reader, and write it into your workbook:

    .•. Shaka's prowess as a warrior is examined.

    .•. Shaka'sability to predict the future is shown.

    .•. The might of Shaka as a great leader is presented.

    Notice that we always state the theme in a complete sentence.

The title serves to announce the beginning of the mighty warrior – it merely introduces the subject.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Diction

The poet's diction (or choice of words) is very important in creating clear and appropriate images.

  • pawing the neck becomes tearing the neck

  • cooked his blood becomes boiled his blood

  • flow in his veins becomes course in his veins

  • shaped his muscles becomes forged his muscles

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Imagery

  • The poet uses vivid imagery to summariseShaka's life:

  • 'a cub' (line 2: his birth and ancestry)

  • 'a clay pot of passion' (line 8: the gods gave him a

  • dominant personality)

  • 'an ox shield' (line 10: his military prowess)

  • 'Ancestors forged/ his muscles' (lines 12-13: his

  • chieftainshipand traditional beliefs)

  • 'white swallows' (line 21: his death and the future)

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Let’s examine the poem in detail.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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The opening stanza focuses on his birth and his pride and aggression.

Metaphor

His cry was savage

The child is compared to a small lion – his actions are immediately aggressive

  • Shaka was an 'illegitimate' child. His shamed mother was driven out of her homelandwith her son.

His baby crywas of a cubtearing the neckof the lionessbecause he was fatherless.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Alliteration

  • The next four linesdescribe him as a passionate, shrewd, strong, wise leader.

  • Stanza two focuses on his blood, and how the gods contributed

  • to his hot-tempered nature.

Metaphor

  • Repetition of plosive sounds creates a harsh violent effect to emphasise the intensity of Shaka’s power.

  • This image emphasises his aggressive and dominant nature

The godsboiled his bloodin a clay pot of passionto course in his veins.

b

b

p

p

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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His heart was shaped into an ox shieldto foil every foe.

Metaphor

foil

  • This image emphasises his aggressive and dominant nature

halt in its tracks

Alliteration

foe

Enemy

adversary

  • Stanza three focuses on his heart and how it helped him become a courageous leader.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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forged

Simile

Ancestors forgedhis muscles intothongs as toughas wattle barkand nervesas sharp assyringa thorns.

Shape by hammering – usually after heating

  • The sharpness of his nerves is compared to the sharp thorns of the syringa tree, emphasising endurance. These comparisons are particularly apt because they are associated with Shaka’s African background.

  • His muscles are compared to leather strips – used for whips.

  • The toughness of the leather is in turn compared to the bark of the wattle tree – this suggests his considerable strength

thongs

Narrow strips of leather

  • The fourth stanza looks at his nerves and muscles and how his ancestors shaped them to improve strength and sharpen his reflexes.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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Metaphor

His eyes were lanterns

that shone from the dark valleys of Zululand

to see white swallowscoming across the sea.

His cry to two assassin brothers:

  • Lantern symbolises intelligence and insight – he could see into the future – just like lanterns cast a light ahead of you.

Metaphor

  • Swallows refer to the European immigrants who arrived in Africa

  • Swallows refer to the European immigrants who arrived in Africa

  • The theme of the fifth stanza is his eyes, symbol of his wisdom and perceptiveness.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH

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"Lo! you can kill mebut you'll never rule this land!"

An exclamation or interjection used for calling attention to a surprising thing

Lo! -

  • This stanza focuses on the prophecy that the white man will rule and not his brothers who have murdered him in order to claim power.

MADE BY RONEL MYBURGH


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