Shaka Zulu

Watch Shaka Zulu

  • TV-MA
  • 1986
  • 1 Season
  • 7.7  (3,390)

Shaka Zulu is a gripping historical drama series that delves into the life of one of Africa's most notorious figures, the Zulu commander Shaka. Produced by Fireworks International, the show premiered on South African television in 1986 and quickly garnered critical acclaim for its stunning cinematography and powerful performances.

At the heart of the show is Henry Cele's extraordinary portrayal of Shaka, a man who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest military leaders in African history. Born under inauspicious circumstances and shunned by his father, Shaka is forced to fight for survival from a young age. But over the years, he hones his skills as a warrior and strategist, building an army of fiercely loyal followers and conquering neighboring tribes with ruthless efficiency.

As the series unfolds, we see Shaka's life through a series of flashbacks, with each episode focusing on a different period of his reign. We witness his brutal struggles with rival factions within his own tribe, his legendary military campaigns against the British, and his eventual downfall at the hands of his own people.

One of the most striking aspects of Shaka Zulu is its unflinching portrayal of violence and brutality. The show doesn't shy away from depicting the harsh realities of life in 19th-century Africa, from the horrors of battle to the frequent betrayals and power struggles that defined tribal politics. At times, Shaka himself is an unsettling figure, capable of shocking acts of violence and cruelty in service of his goals.

But despite its often grim subject matter, Shaka Zulu also has moments of great beauty and humanity. We see Shaka's intense love for his mother, his deep connection to his comrades-in-arms, and his unwavering commitment to his people. And through his relationships with figures like the British explorer Henry Fynn and the Zulu warrior Umnandi, we gain new perspectives on the complex cultural interactions shaping the world of 19th-century Africa.

Above all, though, the show is a showcase for Henry Cele's towering performance as Shaka. The actor brings an incredible physicality and intensity to the role, capturing both the man's ferocious charisma and his deep emotional turmoil. Whether he's rallying his troops for battle or grappling with personal demons, Cele infuses every scene with a raw, visceral energy that is at once thrilling and unsettling.

Shaka Zulu has become a classic of African television, beloved by audiences for its epic scope, compelling characters, and unflinching portrayal of a crucial moment in history. For anyone interested in the complex tapestry of African culture and politics, or the struggles of visionary leaders caught between tradition and progress, it is an essential viewing experience. And with its unforgettable performances and stunning cinematography, it remains a towering achievement in the world of historical drama.

Shaka Zulu is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (10 episodes). The series first aired on November 24, 1986.

Shaka Zulu
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Part 10
10. Part 10
January 26, 1987
Shaka (Henry Cele) helps Farewell (Edward Fox) and a Zulu delegation to get to Cape Town, where Lord Somerset (Trevor Howard) imprisons them; Nandi's death sends Shaka into a frenzy of destruction.
Part 9
9. Part 9
January 19, 1987
Shaka (Henry Cele) agrees to help build a boat to carry Farewell and a Zulu delegation to Cape Town, where they are imprisoned by Somerset (Trevor Howard); Shaka is furious that Pampata has borne him a son.
Part 8
8. Part 8
January 12, 1987
Fynn traces the history of Shaka and the Ndwandwe king Zwide (Khukekani Magubane) after Shaka orders the Britons to help fight Zwide, who was responsible for the death of Dingiswayo (Simon Sabela).
Part 7
7. Part 7
January 5, 1987
Shaka cedes Port Natal to Farewell and his men after Fynn (Robert Powell) helps him recover from an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Farewell's wife learns that both Shaka and Farewell (Henry Cele, Edward Fox) have been declared dead.
Part 6
6. Part 6
December 22, 1986
Shaka (Henry Cele) instills a tough training regimen to prepare the Mtwetwas for a battle with the Zulus, which precedes the death of Senzangakona and Shaka's ascension to the Zulu throne.
Part 5
5. Part 5
December 22, 1986
Shaka (Henry Cele) rejects an overture from his father (Conrad Magwaza) and aligns himself with the Mtwetwa tribe, where he clashes with the general Bhuza (Bingo Bentley) over fighting techniques.
Part 4
4. Part 4
December 15, 1986
After he survives an assassination attempt, Shaka cedes Port Natal to Farewell (Edward Fox), whom he sends into battle against King Zwide (Khukekani Magubane). Meanwhile, Shaka and Farewell are proclaimed dead in Cape Town.
Part 3
3. Part 3
December 8, 1986
Shaka (Henry Cele) rejects and overture from his father (Conrad Magwaza) and becomes aligned with the Mtwetwa tribe, and then clashes with Gen. Bhuza (Bingo Bentley) over tactics that prove successful in a battle with the Zulus.
Part 2
2. Part 2
December 1, 1986
Fynn chronicles the affair between Prince Senzangakona and the maiden Nandi, the prophecy for their illegitimate child and the humiliation she and her son Shaka endure.
Part 1
1. Part 1
November 24, 1986
In Part 1, the British send an emissary to Shaka, hoping to intimidate him into forming an alliance in order to remove the threat to their colony at Cape Town.
Where to Watch Shaka Zulu
Shaka Zulu is available for streaming on the Fireworks International website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Shaka Zulu on demand at Netflix, Crackle and Plex.
  • Premiere Date
    November 24, 1986
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (3,390)