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King Shaka International Airport
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | 00:00


The name for the new international airport at La Mercy is now called: King Shaka International Airport. This has been made public via the government gazette: Publication of Official Geographical Names: Department of Arts and Culture, Minister L. Xingwana 6 No. 32898 GOVERNMENT GAZETTE, 29TH JANUARY 2010 No. 24 Line 13 


The King Shaka International Airport (KSIA)

The airport project has been in the pipeline from the early 70s and now today it is a reality. The location of the airport is north of Durban in the ILembe District. During the initial stages of the development of the project in the mid 90s the name King Shaka International was used but not officially. From the time the project was issued the green light in June 2006, the name KSIA, still not official, was still used. The airport publically was referred to as: The new international airport at La Mercy until the process for naming it was applied for by the Province of KZN in 2009.

The naming of the airport went through the normal due process and was finally signed off by the Minister of Arts and Culture and issued into the government gazette on 29th January 2010. Now with the name issued, ACSA is in the process of finalising the international airport code and call sign for aviation regulation purposes and is working swiftly to ensure the road and terminal signage are fast tracked before the operational opening on 1st May 2010. Significantly, the airport is named after the most famous Zulu monarch in the world, King Shaka. 

King Shaka

The man who ruled over the Zulu clan at the time of their greatest glories, who had led their growth from a small clan into the dominant power off the coast of south-east Africa, was called Shaka.  To understand the man we know today as "King Shaka", we have to understand the driving force that made him to be the noted leader he was.

Shaka's mother Nandi was a child of a deceased chieftain of the eLangeni and thus Shaka grew up fatherless among people who despised his mother and him. He grew up lonely and bitter but the intelligent and naturally sensitive boy knew of his royal blood and by the time he was 21 Shaka was 6' 3" tall, with a magnificently proportioned body, well muscled and with a true royal bearing. As a teenager, he showed exceptional fighting ability and bravery and at the age of 19 he single-handedly killed a leopard which was attacking the livestock. By 23, he was called to serve as a Mtetwa - warrior, and did so for the next six years. In battle, he found an outlet for his pent-up frustrations and developed his political policy.

Shaka became king of the Zulus in 1816 when he was about 30. In the winter of 1823 Shaka began to build a new capital on a site overlooking the valley of the Mhlatuze River and named it kwaBulawayo ("the place of the persecuted man"). It was here that his mother, Nandi died in 1827. On 22 September 1828, Shaka was waiting to receive tribute from a visiting party of Tswanas when two of his half brothers, Mhlangana and Dingane, suddenly strode into the cattle enclosure where Shaka was waiting and stabbed him to death.

He ruled his kingdom fairly and in many cases with compassion Shaka remains one of the greatest kings and warriors of our time.  There is no doubt that the airport’s naming after King Shaka will add richness to the essence and character of what will, come May 2010, Airports Company South Africa’s most significant development yet.

We are currently making arrangements to host members of the Zulu Royal Family on the site of the new airport before it opens for commercial operations.

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