All About History


Analysing the famous Zulu battle formation


One of the curious elements of Zulu battle tactics was the use of a formation known as the impondo zankomo, or The Beast’s Horns, sometimes also referred to popularly as the Bull’s Horns formation. The structure looks a little like the head of a bull, and with cattle being so integral to Zulu culture you might guess it was somehow symbolic more than practical – but there was much more to it. 1. CENTRAL FORCE

The isifuba was the ‘chest’ of the beast and would charge at the enemy directly and with great ferocity, hoping to knock them off balance and get them on their heels.


The izimpondo were the ‘horns’ of the manoeuvre and they flanked the enemy on both sides, rushing out from the middle and hoping to encircle them.


The umava, or the ‘loins’, were the reserve force, leaping forward to cover the fallen in the front. They might even start facing away from the enemy to dissuade anyone from moving too soon.

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