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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)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (original)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This has been the most repeatedly screened mini-series ever shown on television in the U.S. By 1992, over three hundred fifty million viewers had seen it. This mini-series dislodged The Hunters (1957) and The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) and its sequels as the prime shaper of American perceptions of "tribal" history in southern Africa. The series even achieved cult status. The U.K. actors and actresses who worked on the project were nearly blacklisted by the U.N. See more »


Shaka: [last words, as he is slain by his own bodyguards] ... THE SWALLOWS HAVE WON!
["Swallows" is the Zulus' term for the British... since they, like their bird-namesakes, first came to Africa from across the sea]
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Alternate Versions

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


Referenced in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000) See more »


(uncredited) (music box)
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User Reviews

A highlight among 1980's mini-series
1 February 2013 | by t_atzmuellerSee all my reviews

Thinking of South-Africa and the 1980s in one context, three things come to mind: apartheid, boycott and the mini-series "Shaka Zulu". I'd place this among the best mini-series of the 80's and 90's, among shows like "Shogun", "Tai-Pan", "Roots" and "North and South". "Shaka Zulu" has bit from all of them. It's got history; it's got adventure and action, it has compelling characters and story lines that keep you glued to the screen.

Shaka has most often been described as the „Napoleon of Africa", which isn't incorrect, yet, I myself do like to see him as the King Arthur of South Africa. This is mainly due to having read Thomas Mofolos "Chaka Zulu" prior to having seen the TV-series. If you're the reading type, I recommend you to pick it up; it's not only a masterpiece of storytelling, but combines history and mysticism perfectly. Some of the mystic elements have made it into the series (the prophecy of Shaka's rise to power; the forging of Shaka's spear), but generally the story of the TV-show is rooted in reality.

What's to be said about the actors? Well, people like Edward Fox, Robert Powell or Fiona Fullerton are beyond dispute, doing a fine job as would be expected. Same goes by short but poignant guest-appearances by the likes of Sir Christopher Lee, Trevor Howard and Roy Dotrice (superb as a decadent King George IV) but the real kudos must go to the South African cast which, despite being mainly laymen actors, come across as convincingly and authentic as they come.

Former South-African football hero Henry Cele embodies Shaka Zulu like Helmut Berger embodied King Ludwig II of Bavaria, imposing and final. Dudu Mkize virtually steals the scenes she's in, with a mix of grace and dignity that is rare to see on modern TV or Conrad Magwaza as Shakas father Senzagakona and Gugu Nxumalo as Shakas feline-like aunt Mkabayi. Sadly, most of those actors were never seen on screen again; Cele starring in a couple of low-budget action / horror flicks (among them "The Ghost and the Darkness), same goes for Mkizi and for Magwaza (apart in a guest-appearance in a film about Albert Schweizer) and Nxumala, "Shaka Zulu" that remained their only appearance on the silver screen.

In essence, this is a (mini)-series that makes you feel sad once you've reached the final episode: sad that it's over and that there is no more. One wishes it would have gone on, that one could have seen more of the characters, their stories, and more of the rich Zulu culture and its history.

I'd give it 10/10 points if it wasn't for the abrupt, sudden ending, which comes as a bit of a let-down, so 9 from 10 will have to do.

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