The king sat naked in his hut experiencing a disturbed sleep, a procession of unintelligible moans and grunts sporadically escaping his gritted teeth. Every now and then, a word could be deciphered – “mother”, “parasite”, “die”.
Since the death of his mother Nandi, the king had plunged into a bottomless depression. The woman to whom he owed his life, the only one in his entire violent life to have given him love, was forever gone. He had no wife. And he had no children – he killed them all years ago.
All he felt now was pain; incredible, intolerable pain. The only way he knew to cope with it was to share it. To make all of his kingdom taste the rot that filled his heart. To unite his people as one body of mourners.
Thousands were sacrificed to his torment on the day she died. Thousands more died of starvation in the succeeding months. Crops were burned. Every cow was slaughtered so the calves would know the loss of their mothers too. Milk was forbidden. He sent the entirety of his warriors off on missions of annihilation, destroying the land and every village in their way.
His descent into madness was nearly complete.
Three men outside had their ears to the thatched wall and listened for a moment, validating their suspicion of the king’s mental state.
On September 22nd, 1828, Shaka, the Zulu king who killed 2 million to create his tribe of 250,000, was lured outside on the pretext that his subjects were not mourning loudly enough. He didn’t see the faces of his attackers when the knives first plunged into his back. But as he fell to the ground and rolled over, Shaka succumbed to a moment of clarity and recognized the hate-filled but fearful eyes of his half-brothers.