The organization of the Zulu state politically, socially and economically

Political organization.

  • The kingdom was highly centralized with the king as the head and traditional chiefs under him.
  • The king was assisted by the traditional chiefs and military Indunas for effective control of the society.

  • The traditional council of elders played an important role in Zulu society. They advised the king on the important matters of the state. However, during the time of Shaka, their role declined.
  • The king had powers to appoint and to dismiss any of his officials. They were there answerable to him.
  • Zulu kingdom had a strong standing army with the king acting as the commander in chief.
  • The arm was well-trained, equipped and ready to fight at any time. The army was on alert to defend or offend the Zulu enemies.
  • The army lived in barracks called settlements and this among other included the settlement of Bulawayo.
  • The army was divided into age regiments each under a military commander called an Induna.
  • Each military settlement had a section of royal women headed by senior women and acted as spies for the king on the Indunas.

  • The Indunas were not allowed to hold meetings without consent and permission from the king. This was to stop any conspiracy against the king.
  • Succession to the Zulu throne was hereditary. That is the king’s eldest son could inherit the Zulu throne.
  • The conquered area formed the outer provinces of the Zulu state. Each province was under the military Induna and assisted by the chief.

Social organization

  • Socially the king was the leader as he presided over traditional ceremonies such as the traditional fruit harvest which was attended by all people the kingdom.
  • Initiation ceremonies were performed to mark the entry into adulthood. During Shaka’s reign, however, circumcision was abolished.
  • Marriage was restricted until one served in the army for a period of 40 years. At this age, the military men could be retired at the same time with the females of an appropriate age for marriage.

  • The Zulu were divided in social classes called clans, traditionally the royal clan provided kings and chiefs while warrior come from the class of commoners
  • The Zulu worshiped their gods and the most important was the god of the war.
  • The king controlled all social affairs and was the biggest social figure.
  • Polygamy was common among the Zulu

Economic organization

  • Economically the kingdom was highly centralized and all means of lively hood belonged to the king. The king was the giver of everything to his people
  • Young boys captured by the Zulu army looked after the captured cattle.
  • The girls and young women captured by the Zulu army worked in agriculture fields while the old were put to death.
  • All the age regiments were self-sufficient in food production and livestock. That is each settlement provided its own food and kept its colour of animals..
  • Raiding cattle, goats and women was an important source of wealth of the Zulu state.
  • The Zulu also traded with foreigner most especially the Portuguese at the Delgoa bay
  • The Zulu also carried out ironworking and produced weapons such as short stubbing spears and long throwing spear.


%d bloggers like this: