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An assegai or assagai (originally Berber zaġāya "spear", from Arabic az-zaġāyah, Old French azagaie Spanish azagaya) is a pole weapon used for throwing or hurling, usually a light spear or javelin made of wood and pointed with iron.


The use of various types of the assegai was spread all over Africa and it was the most common weapon there. The Zulu and other Nguni tribes of South Africa were renowned for their use of the assegai. Shaka of the Zulu invented a shorter-style assegai with a two foot shaft and which had a larger, broader blade of one foot length. This weapon was known as the iklwa or ixwa – for the sound that was heard as it was withdrawn from the victim's wound – and was used as a stabbing weapon during mêlée attacks. The traditional assegai was not discarded but was used for a softening range attack on enemy formations before closing in for close quarters battle with the iklwa. This tactical combination originated during Shaka's military reforms .


It is also the name of a southern African tree (Curtisia dentata) whose wood was suitable for making spears or lances, most notably by the Bantu peoples of southern Africa.

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