In the Canon:- Edit
While black tribes exist in Howondaland in the canon - witness for instance the N'Tuitif tribe, and the elephant-wranglers of Moving Pictures - Kwa'Zululand, based on the history and social structure of the Zulu peoples of South Africa, is completely my own invention. The compleat Discworld Atlas refers vaguely to "The Kingdoms of Howondaland" without going into detail, so there is canonical room for wiggle here.
in the Pessimal Discworld:- Edit
Kwa'Zululand, or The Zulu Empire, is located to the hubwards and widdershins (north and east) of the .Union of Rimwards Howondaland. The grudgingly acepted border between the two is the river Ulunghi, although in the past the Boortrekkies pushed as far as Blood River, fifty or sixty miles further in. The social structure is a monarchy where the Paramount Royal House rules, supported by a theocracy/native wizardry/secret service called the Witch-Finders. There is also an all-pervading military structure based on the tribal regiments, the impis: all Zulu men between the ages of thirteen and sixty must have spent time in their impi and thereafter be ready and fit for recall if needed. While there is some mining for iron, copper, tin, silver, gold, et c, and some metal work and light industry, society is largely pastoral and semi-nomadic.
The Zulus are not the only ethnic tribe in the area, but are the largest, fiercest and most dominant. Smaller groupings such as the Xhosa, and the Bantu, where they have not made their peace and accepted the subjugation of apartheid in the white state next door, are accepted but subordinate members of the Kwa'Zulu confederation and subjects of the Paramount King. Their men fight in auxiliary Impis under Zulu commanders. A thorn in their side is Matabeleland (a catch-all Up To eleven post-colonial Black Africa, based on Nigeria) which is also large and powerful and which contemptuously refuses the Zulu claim to be the sole power uniting all of Black Howondaland. The two powerful black states are locked in permanent conflict, a happy state of affairs encouraged by the white state of Rimwards Howondaland which does not want to see them unite. Sandwiched in between is the accepted "buffer zone", the small, powerless and independent state of Urabewe, landlocked in between the Matabele kingdom, the Zulu Empire, and Smith-Rhodesia.
The Paramount King is usualy the descendent of the impi general who was tough enough to grab the kingship the last time it was up for grabs, and politically shrewd enough to make the necessary agreements and compromises that allowed him to stay there. He is the ultimate law court, lawgiver, judge, and final arbitrer of arguments. He may take as many wives as he likes, and all his sons and daughters are dignified with the title of Paramount Prince or Princess of the Royal House. The current incumbent has twenty-eight wives, one hundred and thirty daughters, and seventy-eight sons.
He is guided in his decision-making by the College of Witch-Finders and Priests, who are an incredibly powerful theocracy that any Paramount King must be on good terms with if he is to remain King. The witch-finder is the native analogue of the Wizards and Witches and is an incredibly powerful magic-user: his or her pointing-bone is a potent instrument of malevolent Boffo and the mere sight of it can induce panic and dread in the person it is pointed at. The priests steer the religious destiny of the land and placate the fierce Zulu gods, chief of whom is the lion-headed tutelary deity Unkolonkulo.
The third pillar of Zulu society is of course the Army. Each impi, or regiment, has three battallions: the youth battallion, which teaches fighting skills to the boys of thirteen to seventeen and prepares them for war. The adult batalion, of men between eighteen and forty, who are the potent, ultra-fit, fighting fofrce at the peak of its strength and fitness: and then there is the veterans' batallion, men of forty-one to sixty, still fit and capable of fighting, but held as a reserve or used on less physically strenuous tasks. Not every man, of course, is on active service all the time. A few impis are called up on border duty at any one time, and the rest of the nation's manpower is held in reserve, ready for call-up at a moment's notice, but going on with its civilian trades of farming, mining, smelting, metal-working and animal-husbandry. But the nature of Zulu society is that the hide shield, the assegai and the knobkerry, along with minimal uniform accoutrements, hang on the wall of every long-hut in every kraal and may be grabbed at a moment's notice.
Zululand's principal border is with the white state of the URH. Its immediate neighbours are the Boor provinces of Natal, Transvaal, and especially the long frontier of Smith-Rhodesia, where unfortunately the neighbours are sworn enemies for just every reason you can think of. The nation also has a northern, semi-desert, border, with the Central Howondalandian Plain. Here, a permanent garrison is needed as the neighbours are Apache Indians, prone to raiding and pillaging vulnerable isolated kraals. Some trade is possible, overland, with Klatch and with more peaceable Red Indian tribes of the Central Plains.
Klatch, on the other side of the Central Plain, is a friend and superpower sponsor of Kwa'Zululand, providing military advice, weapons, political support and acting as a balance to Ankh-Morpork's (reluctant) support of White Howondaland.