A historical account on the life of the Zulu King Shaka.
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Series cast summary:
Edward Fox ...  Lt. Francis Farewell 10 episodes, 1986
Robert Powell ...  Dr. Henry Fynn 10 episodes, 1986
Trevor Howard ...  Lord Charles Somerset 10 episodes, 1986
Fiona Fullerton ...  Elizabeth Farewell 10 episodes, 1986
Christopher Lee ...  Lord Bathurst 10 episodes, 1986
Henry Cele Henry Cele ...  Shaka 10 episodes, 1986
Dudu Mkhize Dudu Mkhize ...  Nandi 10 episodes, 1986
Roy Dotrice ...  George IV 10 episodes, 1986
Gordon Jackson ...  Prof. Bramston 10 episodes, 1986
Kenneth Griffith Kenneth Griffith ...  Zacharias Abrahams 10 episodes, 1986
Conrad Magwaza Conrad Magwaza ...  Senzagakona 5 episodes, 1986
Patrick Ndlovu Patrick Ndlovu ...  Mudli 5 episodes, 1986
Roland Mqwebu Roland Mqwebu ...  Ngomane 5 episodes, 1986
Gugu Nxumalo Gugu Nxumalo ...  Mkabayi 5 episodes, 1986
Tu Nokwe Tu Nokwe ...  Pampata 5 episodes, 1986
Vuyisile Bojana Vuyisile Bojana ...  Mgobozi 5 episodes, 1986
Bingo Mbonjeni Bingo Mbonjeni ...  Bhuza 5 episodes, 1986
Simon Sabela Simon Sabela ...  Dingiswayo 5 episodes, 1986
Sam Williams Sam Williams ...  Jama 5 episodes, 1986
Alex Heyns Alex Heyns ...  Vegte 5 episodes, 1986
Graham Armitage ...  Wilkins 5 episodes, 1986
Geoff Albert Geoff Albert ...  Thomson 5 episodes, 1986
Sonke Buthelezi Sonke Buthelezi ...  Nqoboka 5 episodes, 1986
John Carson ...  Lord Kimberley 5 episodes, 1986
Khumbulani Cele Khumbulani Cele ...  Shaka (6-11) 5 episodes, 1986
Dabula Ciliza Dabula Ciliza ...  Ghubela 5 episodes, 1986
Bill Curry Bill Curry ...  Popham 5 episodes, 1986
Terence Dlamini Terence Dlamini ...  Gazi 5 episodes, 1986
Thembinkosi Dlamini Thembinkosi Dlamini ...  Mevana 5 episodes, 1986
Glen Gabela Glen Gabela ...  Shaka (15-19) 5 episodes, 1986
King Beaters Gabelah King Beaters Gabelah ...  Musi 5 episodes, 1986
Winston Gama Winston Gama ...  Mzilikazi 5 episodes, 1986
P.W.M. Gardner P.W.M. Gardner ...  Aithison 5 episodes, 1986
Keith Grenville Keith Grenville ...  Shepstone 5 episodes, 1986
Zipathe Gumede Zipathe Gumede ...  Nkalakata 5 episodes, 1986
Daphney Hlomuka Daphney Hlomuka ...  Queen Ntombazi 5 episodes, 1986
Eugene Hlomuka Eugene Hlomuka ...  Dilikana 5 episodes, 1986
James Irwin James Irwin ...  Gen. Chelmsford 5 episodes, 1986
Ian Jali Ian Jali ...  Sigiyana 5 episodes, 1986
Kerry Jordan Kerry Jordan ...  Rev. Bellow 5 episodes, 1986
Benedict Khambula Benedict Khambula ...  Witchdoctor 5 episodes, 1986
Charles Kinsman Charles Kinsman ...  Cane 5 episodes, 1986
Sokesimbone Kubheka Sokesimbone Kubheka ...  Cetshwayo 5 episodes, 1986
Bruno Luthuli Bruno Luthuli ...  Pungashe 5 episodes, 1986
Khulekani Magubane Khulekani Magubane ...  Zwide 5 episodes, 1986
Victor Majavu Victor Majavu ...  King Makedama 5 episodes, 1986
Phillip Majola Phillip Majola ...  Ngwadi (9 yrs old) 5 episodes, 1986
Humphrey Makhoba Humphrey Makhoba ...  Dingane 5 episodes, 1986
Obed Makubane Obed Makubane ...  Messenger 5 episodes, 1986
Africa Manqele Africa Manqele ...  Ngazana 5 episodes, 1986
Sonto Mazibuko Sonto Mazibuko ...  Bibi 5 episodes, 1986
Grissel Mboni Grissel Mboni ...  Mfunda 5 episodes, 1986
Peter Mgaga Peter Mgaga ...  Nzobo 5 episodes, 1986
Eric Mcanyana Eric Mcanyana ...  Godongwana 5 episodes, 1986
Dingeni Mhlongo Dingeni Mhlongo ...  Nomcoba (child) 5 episodes, 1986
Precious Mkhize Precious Mkhize ...  Njani 5 episodes, 1986
Raymond Mkhize Raymond Mkhize ...  Soshangane 5 episodes, 1986
Amos Mkhonza Amos Mkhonza ...  King Kondlo 5 episodes, 1986
Louis Mtetwa Louis Mtetwa ...  Ufasimba 5 episodes, 1986
Sally Mthembu Sally Mthembu ...  Majola 5 episodes, 1986
Lucky Mtshali Lucky Mtshali ...  Nondumo 5 episodes, 1986
Sabelo Ndebele Sabelo Ndebele ...  Ngwadi 5 episodes, 1986
Daniel Ndlovu Daniel Ndlovu ...  Dlaba 5 episodes, 1986
Isabelle Ndlovu Isabelle Ndlovu ...  Noliwa 5 episodes, 1986
Michael Nene Michael Nene ...  Mbopha 5 episodes, 1986
Shadrack Ngema Shadrack Ngema ...  Joko 5 episodes, 1986
Elliot Ngubane Elliot Ngubane ...  Mphepha 5 episodes, 1986
Peter Nkwanyana Peter Nkwanyana ...  Ufasimba 5 episodes, 1986
Alfred D. Nokwe Alfred D. Nokwe ...  Kuta 5 episodes, 1986
Emily Nompumelelo Emily Nompumelelo ...  Mahlana 5 episodes, 1986
Adalbero Ntsele Adalbero Ntsele ...  Luthuli 5 episodes, 1986
Samuel Ntsini Samuel Ntsini ...  The Nameless One 5 episodes, 1986
Horatius Ntuli Horatius Ntuli ...  Njanis Father 5 episodes, 1986
Artwell Nyembe Artwell Nyembe ...  Ufasimba Leader 5 episodes, 1986
Aletta Rabotapi Aletta Rabotapi ...  Maidservant 5 episodes, 1986
Michael Richard Michael Richard ...  Mordechai Abrahams 5 episodes, 1986
Erica Rogers ...  Queen Victoria 5 episodes, 1986
Hugh Rouse Hugh Rouse ...  Worthing 5 episodes, 1986
Cynthia Shange Cynthia Shange ...  Mkabi 5 episodes, 1986
Sibusiso Shange Sibusiso Shange ...  Phakathwayo 5 episodes, 1986
David Sherwood David Sherwood ...  Captain Blair 5 episodes, 1986
Yule Simone Yule Simone ...  Gendeyana 5 episodes, 1986
Leonard Sithole Leonard Sithole ...  Mbuya 5 episodes, 1986
Washington Xisolo Washington Xisolo ...  Bhebhe 5 episodes, 1986
Ron Smerczak Ron Smerczak ...  Ogle 5 episodes, 1986
Sibongile Sokhulu Sibongile Sokhulu ...  Nomcoba 5 episodes, 1986
Daniel Stewart Daniel Stewart ...  Tonino 5 episodes, 1986
Oliver Stole Oliver Stole ...  Mbenghi 5 episodes, 1986
Sean Taylor Sean Taylor ...  The Prince Of Wales 5 episodes, 1986
Reginald Tsokolibane Reginald Tsokolibane ...  The Lion Man 5 episodes, 1986
Sean Weir Sean Weir ...  Hockley 5 episodes, 1986
Robert Whitehead Robert Whitehead ...  Simpson 5 episodes, 1986
Ganza Zama Ganza Zama ...  Mtonga 5 episodes, 1986
Vincent Zulu Vincent Zulu ...  Pakatwayo 5 episodes, 1986
V.E.M. Zulu V.E.M. Zulu ...  King Sodubo 5 episodes, 1986
Patrick Zungu Patrick Zungu ...  Igazi 5 episodes, 1986
Nomsa Xaba Nomsa Xaba ...  Sitayi 4 episodes, 1986


Framed around Queen Victoria's decision on England's political stance towards the Zulu Nation, this mini-series details King Shaka's rise and fall with mythic detail. Prophecy is mixed with recorded fact regarding Shaka's birth, exile, innovations in warfare, assumption of the throne, building of the Zulu Empire, first contact with Europe and the events that lead to his downfall. Written by Renee Ann Byrd <byrdie@wyrdbyrd.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Savage Warrior of All Time!


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English | Zulu

Release Date:

24 November 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shaka Zulu See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The filming set of this mini-series was intended to be used for additional big screen and television productions, but with the slump in the South African film industry at the time, it wasn't sustainable. So the enterprising owners, passionate about Zulu heritage and culture, turned the set into a cultural hotel and conferencing venue, which has gone on to become a very successful stopover for international tourists wanting an authentic Zulu experience. See more »


Shaka: A man chosen to wield life and death on the battlefield must be an artist, if he isn't, he is simply a murderer.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also released on video in an edited, 'feature length' version. See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Kirsten Dunst/Eminem (2002) See more »


We Are Growing
By Patric van Blerk, Julian Laxton, Margaret Singana and David Pollecutt (as Dave Pollecutt)
Sung by Margaret Singana and the Baragwanath Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

Quite rewarding!
1 January 2001 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

When Nandi and her unborn child are saved by the ancient witch doctor, he proclaims: "A force has been generated that in time will rock the foundation of the African sub-continent."

Indeed the prophecy shaped the event and Shaka was the ruthless founder of southern Africa's Zulu Empire... In less than a decade, the paramount chieftain of the Zulu clan revolutionized the techniques of tribal warfare and fashioned an efficient and terrifying fighting force that devastated the entire region...

Set against the emergence of British power in Africa during the early 19th Century, the film provides some valuable insights into comparative cultures...

Shaka (Henry Cele) is a man of considerable height, thin, with athletic body and white teeth who can read and write... He is a great warrior, tactically, strategically and physically... He rearms his army with a long-bladed, short-shafted stabbing spear, which forced them to fight at close quarters... He goes for extermination, incorporating the remnants of the clans he smashed into the Zulu, making it increase with numbers and power..

The Mini-Series begins with a letter to the British king (George IV) regarding the Zulus' potential threat to the Cape Colony... In an attempt to intimidate Shaka into an alliance with the British empire, the Secretary of War sends a delegation to inner African to meet with the fearful warrior...

We see:

  • The meeting of Nandi, an orphaned princess of the neighboring Langeni clan and Senzangakona, the chief of the then small Zulu tribe... They are instantly attracted to each other... Nandi becomes pregnant, at the same time as Kona's wife, but the marriage did not last... Their marriage violated Zulu custom, and the stigma of this extended to the child...

  • The couple separated when Shaka was six, and Nandi takes her son back to the Langeni, where he passed a fatherless boyhood among a people who despised his mother and makes him the butt of endless cruel pranks... He grows up to be bitter and angry, hating his tormentors... The Langeni drove Nandi out, and she finally found shelter with the Dletsheni, a sub-clan of the powerful Mtetwa...

  • Shaka rules with an iron hand from the beginning, distributing instant death for the slightest opposition...

  • While en route to Shaka's capital, the crew's doctor saves a girl who is in a coma and nearly buried alive by her tribe... Impressed by both the deed and their horses, Shaka agrees to meet with the crew... And so begins the clash of two cultures, two different worlds...

  • Shaka, seriously wounded for saving an unknown warrior (King Dingiswayo), is nursed to health by a beautiful Mtwetwa girl...

  • Shaka, believing in total annihilation, joins the Mtwetwa army and creates a dangerous weapon for the African warfare...

  • Shaka grants Port Natal, with its ivory rights, to the British crew after he is saved by the crew's doctor from an assassination attempt...

  • Shaka's mighty army saving the British delegation in a battle against thousands of Ndwandwe warriors... To test the alliance and allegiance of the British delegation, Shaka orders them into battle alone against the Ndwandwe warriors...

  • With his mother's death Shaka becomes openly psychotic... Shaka rules by the sheer force of his personality, building, by scores of daily executions, a fear so profound that he could afford to ignore it...

Set against the spectacular panorama of the Zulu tribal homelands, and with graphic violence and frequent nudity, "Shaka Zulu" is a tremendous epic Mini-Series, chronicling the rise and fall of one of the most famous South Africans who has already passed into legend...

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