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Kwa-Bulawayo (prefixed according to context with 'gu-' or 'kwa-') was the royal kraal of Shaka Zulu, and as such was the capital of the early Zulu empire. It was founded after Shaka's conquest of the Ndwandwe kingdom, in around 1820. During the conflict, Shaka made a stand outside Kwa-Bulawayo, facing two thousand Ndwandees who returned from cattle rustling in addition to five hundred more who survived the battle at Gqokli.[1]

It was at Kwa-Bulawayo that Shaka first met Western traders from Port Natal.[2] An account of Shaka's interaction with the whites also cited that the location hosted figures such as John Cane and Charles Rawden Maclean, who asked for the ruler's help and blessing.[3] It was also here that Shaka was attacked by an assassin using an assegai during a night dance.[3] After Shaka's assassination, the royal kraal was moved to umGungundlovu by his half-brother and successor Dingane.

The kraal is not to be confused with the city in Zimbabwe, founded and possibly named after it by Matabele king Lobengula, son of Shaka's former lieutenant Mzilikazi.


  1. ^ Golightly, Walton (2008-06-05). Amazulu. Quercus. ISBN 9781849164306.
  2. ^ "Bulawayo No. 2", KwaZulu Natal provincial government website.
  3. ^ a b Wylie, Dan (2011). Shaka. Auckland Park, South Africa: Jacana Media. p. 115. ISBN 9781770099623.