Zulu Regimental Recognition.

 

The creation of the Zulu Empire by Shaka in the early Nineteenth Century saw the amalgamation of differing tribes and clans into what Europeans recognised in 1879 as one nation. In actual fact it was not as simple as this and Shaka and his heirs to the throne had varying degrees of success at controlling opposition political factions. One key part of controlling these clans was the army system. Regiments (ibutho) were created not based on clans but from males of a similar age and therefore no one clan ever politically dominated a regiment. These regiments were then housed in barracks (amakhanda) which were strategically placed around the kingdom to administer the Kings rule.


 A studio portrait of a young warrior in a 'isakabuli' feather headress (typical of the younger regiments) carrying a typical umbhumbuluso-style shield.

Regiments were further split into unmarried and married. On the kings command an entire unmarried regiment would be allowed the honour of marrying. This usually occurred in early middle age. This was significant as unmarried regiments were in effect doing national service and were at the kings command. On marrying the men would be allowed live at home and to give obedience to their families and local chief as well as the King.

There are many incorrect beliefs about the nature of Zulu society and indeed the 1879 Zulu war as a whole. One of these is that the married regiments formed an elite in the army. This is not actually the case. To describe the Zulu army in more European terms one has the regular army of serving troops (unmarried) who on leaving the army went on the reserve list (married). This explanation is perhaps an over simplification of the system but hopefully helps to explain the married, unmarried regimental and social distinction in its political context.

Obviously the experience gained in campaign by long serving men was a benefit but at the younger end of the system the high testosterone levels of young warriors eager to prove their abilities in battle would have been a great asset, especially when lead by older experienced men.

Like European armies regiments wore uniforms, although not in a way that the Europeans would necessarily have recognised. Firstly all married regiments wore the head ring. Unmarried regiments did not. This seems to have been the one part of Zulu dress that was adhered to throughout the entire period.

Secondly Shaka had created a system of shield colours and this had led to the creation of cattle breeding to achieve the necessary skin colours for shield production. In general terms married regiments carried white shields and unmarried black. However as time passed this simple system began to become less specific. For example a regiment may be given an honour by the King which was shown in a change of shield colour. If you will excuse the pun, the system, by 1879, was not as black and white as it had been.

Regiments also had ceremonial dress which was extremely ornate and obviously regimentally specific. Cetshwayo ordered the regiments not to wear these ceremonial distinctions in battle therefore we will not go into too much detail.

What follows is a list of each of the regiments in the Zulu army which will illustrate their shield colours, their married status and what major battles they are known to have been in. This list will be constantly updated.


The Regiments



uNOKENKE
 Unmarried. The shields were black although many of the warriors are recorded as carrying black shields with white spots.
Fought at Isandlwana. 2000 warriors in the chest (Centre Right). Khambula. Ulundi

UMHLANGA (THE REEDS)
Unmarried. Shields were black with white spots.

izinGulube
  Fought at Nyezane






uMxapho (THE SPRINKLERS)
Unmarried. The shields were black although some may have been red or black with red spots.
Fought at Ulundi. Nyezane.






uDUDUDU
Unmarried. Shields were black with white spots.
Fought at Isandlwana. 1,500 warriors. uNODWENGU Corps. Right Horn. Ulundi. Khambula.






iMbubi (LION)
Unmarried. Shields were black with white spots.
Fought at Isandlwana. Khambula.






iNKOBAMAKOSI (THE BENDER OF KINGS)
Unmarried. The shields were of various colours such as black, black with white spots, red, red with white spots.
Fought at Isandlwana. 6,000 warriors. Chest (Centre Left). Hlobane. Khambula. Uhlundi. Gingindlovu






uDHLOKO (NAME OF A SNAKE)
Married. Shields were red with a white spot.
Fought at Isandlwana. 1,500 warriors. Undi Corps (reserve fought at Rorke's Drift). Ulundi. Khambula.






UDUKUZA (THE WANDERERS)

Married. The shields were white with large black spots.

USIXEPI
Married. The shields were white with a large black spot.






BULAWAYO (THE PLACE OF KILLING)

Married. The shields were white and white and red.






uDlambedlu (ILL TEMPERED)

Married. The shields were white with either black or red spots.
Fought at Nyezane.





MBELEBELE

(THE LITIGIOUS) Married. Shields were white with red spots.

uTULWANA (NAMED AFTER A BASUTO CHIEF)

Married. Shields were white.

Fought at isandlwana. 1,500 warriors. Reserve fought at Rorke's Drift. Uhlundi. Khambula, Gingindlovu.

 

A large group of uTulwana surrendered to

Col.Wood's column and were drafted into Wood's Irregulars.






iNDHLONDHLO (EUPHORBIA)
Married. The shields were white.
Fought at Isandlwana. 900 Warriors. Reserve fought at Rorke's Drift. Ulundi. Khambula.

NKONKONE (BLUE GNU)
Married. The shields were white.






UMLAMBONGWENYA (ALLIGATOR SWAMP)
Married. The shields were white with large black spots.

UMZINYATI
(BUFFALO RIVER) Married. Shields white with black spots.





UDABAKAOMBI ( The Affair Of Ombi)
Married. Shields white with either black or red spots.
 

 
 

USIXEPI
Shields white with large black spots. 80 years old!
 

 
 

NSUGAMGENI
(Name of a hill in Zululand). Unmarried. Shields black with white spot on lower side. Fought at Ulundi.
 

 
 

NGWEKWE 
(Crooked Stick). Unmarried. Shields white with black or red spots.
 
NGULUBI 
(The Pigs). Unmarried. Shields white with black or red spots.
 
UMKUSI
(River in Zululand). Unmarried. Shields white with black or red spots.
 

 
 

MKULTYANE
(The Straight Lines). Unmarried. Shields were white.
 

 
 
 

isAngqu

(Vaal River). Unmarried. Shields were white.

Fought at Isandlwana.1,000 warriros. uNodwengu Corps (Right Horn). Khambula. Ulundi.

 

 
 

iNDLUYENGWE

(Leopards Den). Unmarried. Shields were black with a white spot on the lower half.

Fought at Isandlwana. 1,000 warriors. Reserve fought at Rorke's Drift. Ulundi. Khambula.

 


 

AMAKWENKWE
Unmarried. Shields were red with white spot.
 
IQWA
 (Frost). Unmarried. Shields were black although some witnesses describe them as also carrying red and white shields. Fought at Ulundi.
 

 
 
 
uMbonambi

(The Evil Seers). Unmarried. Shields were red with a white spot.

Fought at Isandlwana. 1,500 warriors. Chest (centre). Khambula, Uhlundi, Gingindlovu.

 

 
 
 
AMASHUTU
(The Lion Eaters). Unmarried. Shields were black or black with white spots.
 
umCijo also called uKhandempemvu

(The Sharp Pointed). Unmarried. Shields were black.

Fought at Isandlwana. 1,500. Chest (Centre). Hlobane. Khambula. Ulundi, Gingindlovu.

 
UNQAKAMATYE
(Stone Cobblers). Unmarried. Shields were black.
 
UMTULISAZWI
(The Peace Makers of the Land). Unmarried. The shields were black.
 

 
 
 
 uVE

(Name of a Bird). Unmarried. Shields were white with black and red spots.

Fought at Isandlwana.3,500 warriors. Left Horn. Hlobane. Uhlundi, Gingindlovu.

 abaQulusi

The abaQulusi were an administration section of the Zulu Riyal House.Shaka had built a royal homestead upon Hlobane mountain and in the following 50 years the local population had mixed with the household staff and their descendants who had settled in the area.

 Due to this history they were fiercely loyal to the Zulu Royal family and under the immediate authority of the King. As such they had managed to stay outside the Zulu military system and developed some form of independence. They had no chiefs as such but instead were ruled by Indunas appointed by the King.

Their Independence meant that they did not carry specific shield colours and didn't have married and unmarried regiments. Instead married and unmarried men seem to have been mixed together in company sized units of around 50 to 70 warriors. There is the possibility that the companies were seperated by age into different units but this is unknown for sure. This gives the wargamer the opportunity to mix both married and unmarried warriors in the same unit with each warrior having a shield of any size, colour and shape that they like! There is one reference of a company at Hlobane having white shields which could well have been due to them being issued from the Royal homestead during the battle (and presumably given to the older warriors).

The abaQulusi fought in the north against Wood's column at iNtombe Drift, Hlobane and possibly made an appearanc at Kambula to support the main Zulu army.

 *Empress Miniatures would like to thank Ian Knight for his assistance with the details of the role played by the abaQulusi in this conflict.