Assistant Director and
Secretary to the Council
S.N. Roberts
Dr F.e. Friedlander
TB. Frost
M.1.e. Daly
A.B. Burnett
S.N. Roberts
Messrs Thornton-Dibb,
Van der Leeuw and Partners
Mrs S.S. Wallis
1. C. Morrison
Elected Members S.N. Roberts (Chainnan)
Professor A. Kaniki (Vice Chairman)
Professor A.M. Barrett
A.B. Burnett
1.H. Conyngham
MJ.e. Daly
lM. Deane
TB. Frost
Professor W.R. Guest
e. Manson
Mrs T .E. Radebe
A.L. Singh
Ms P.A. Stabbins
Transitional Local Council Professor C.O. Gardner
Representatives E.O. Msimang
Associate Editor
lM. Deane
TB. Frost
Dr W.H. Bizley
M.H. Comrie
Professor W.R. Guest
Dr D. Herbert
F.E. Prins
Mrs S.P.M. Spencer
Dr S. Vietzen
G.D.A. Whitelaw
DJ. Buckley
Natalia 28 (1998) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
Journal ofthe Natal Society
No. 28 December 1998
Published by Natal Society Library
P.O.Box 415, Pietermaritzburg 3200, South Africa
SA ISSN 0085-3674
Cover Picture
Briar GhylL Pietermaritzburg, c. 1884.
showing original (c. 1868) detached kitchen to rear of house.
(Drav.-ing by Dennis Radford, author of the article on p.34 of this issue.)
7'Jpeset by A1.J. Marwick
Printed by The Natal Witness Printing and Publishing Company (p(v) Lld
EDITORIAL................................................ 5
.I travelled to other worlds'
R. Papini .......... ........................ ....... ... ............................... (,
Exotic yet often colourless
1 ~ 1 H : v n Jenkins ... :............................................................... 14
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
Phyllis J.l'./. Zungu ...... ... .......... .......... ............... .............. ... 23
The pioneer Natal settler house
Dennis Radford ... ... ..... ........ ..... .............. .... ..... ............. .... 34
Barracks and hostels
Robert Honze ... ... ..... ..... ... ... ..... ..... ....... ............. ........... ...... 45
An environmental manifesto for the greater
Pietermaritzburg area
Dai Herbert and GmJin White/aw .. ............... ........... .......... 53
John Mowbray Didcott ...................................................... 64
Keith Oxlee ....................................................................... 66
Ronald George MacMillan ................................................ 69
Christopher Cresswell ....................................................... 70
Derrick John .Jackie' McGlew .......................................... 72
Owen Pieter Faure Horwood .............................................. 74
NOTES AND QUERIES.................................... 75
BOOK REVIEWS .................................... 85
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
























































Of the two pairs of articles in this issue of Natalia, one is fortuitous, the other a
result of editorial planning. The architectural-historical pieces on the early Natal
settler house and on workers' barracks and hostels were submitted by their authors
unbeknown to each other: but wishing to publish something about the place names
of this province, we asked professors Zungu and lenkins to cover Zulu and non-Zulu
place names respectively.
There is an element of uncertainty about the 'Reprint' section. We know that
Carl Faye's paper containing an account of a 'close encounter of the third kind' was
offered to the South African family weekly, the Dutspan, which ceased publication
in 1957: and it appears to have held the copyright. It would, however, have been too
time-consuming and unproductive a task to comb through more than 1 500 un­
indexed issues of the magazine to find it. If the Dut.span did in fact print the piece,
then it is truly a 'reprint': if not, then it will prove to have been a 'previously
unpublished piece'! Perhaps its previous publication will be confirmed by someone
with a long memory, an interest the paranormal and a scrapbook.
The fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved
Country could not go unmarked in his birthplace, Pietermaritzburg, or in this
journal. Notes & Queries records the commemorative programme arranged by the
Alan Paton Centre at the University of Natal, some memories of Paton as
schoolmaster, and some other literary connections with the city. One of the books
reviewed is an autobiography set mainly in Pietermaritzburg. All of this ensures that
Clio doesn't monopolise the limelight in this issue.
Yatalia 29, due to appear in December 1999, will appropriately mark the
centenary of the beginning of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.
The price of Natalia has remained at R25 for a number of years, but from the
next issue it will unfortunately have to be increased to R30, and South African
subscribers will now be required, like overseas subscribers, to pay postage. The
insert order form for the next issue gives details.
'1 travelled to other worlds'
In Noyember 1912, ANC founder John Dube. trying to organise resistance to the
Union's impending anti-African legislation. harangued a gathering of Zululand
chiefs at Eshowe for lack of unity in defence of their interests. Among his
imprecations was one against 'ridiculous rumours among you about flying bodies
coming through space' (Faye 1923: 87). This kind of tantalising pointer to evidence
of African sightings of UFOs might well crop up in other official records. but until
the recent American publication of the media-savvy isangoma or isazi (seer)
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa's Song of the Stars (1996), nothing in the nature of an
account of extraterrestrial contact from a Zulu source has appeared in popular print.
Dube's question to the chiefs immediately following the above 'What do your
doctors say about these things?' reveals his opinion as to which sphere of culture
such matters rightly belong. and indeed considerable claims are made by inyanga
Mutwa of contact. both firsthand and from hearsay. Although the formal
ethnographic record may yield next to nothing in respect of diviners' utterances
regarding the extraterrestrial
. one of the earliest indigenous voices - Canon
Callaway's main informant Mpengula Mbanda speaks quite plainly of 'the people
\",ho. we suppose. are on the other side of the heaven' , which was conceived of as a
blue rock encompassing the earth. Vague as he was regarding their location ewe do
not know whether they are on the rock", or whether there is some little place which is
earth on the other side), Mpengula was unequivocal about the reality of abantu
bezulu (people of the sky). 'The one thing we know is this, that these heavenly men
exist. Therefore we say there is a place for them, as this place is for us' (Callaway
1970a: 394). Call away himself in his Nun,'ery Tales says that 'so far as [he]
know[s]. every where among the people of all tribes, [there is] a belief in the
existence of h e a v e n ~ v men' (1 970b: 316, Appendix).
Today this tradition finds lavish - some would say opportunistic - expression in
the latest offering from the reconstructed and nowadays warmly feted Mutwa
. His
of the Stars. subtitled Lore of a Zulu Shaman, consists of transcriptions of his
cosmogonic monologues by American admirers. and presents in an eponymous
chapter what might be called an . Afrocentric UFOlogy', in the shape of what he
calls the . mere outline' of a . great story that tells of the extraterrestrial origins of
humankind' (:125). This is just one part ofa heritage of 'amazing knowledge of the
cosmos. the solar system, and even dimensions unknown to man' once possessed by
black South Africa (: 123).
Xatalw 28 (1998). R. Papini pp. 6-13
J travelled to other worlds
This body of lore exists, moreover, throughout the continent. When in Kenya
during the Mau Mau uprising, the urbane and well-travelled Mutwa found that an
encounter with a 'gigantic disk' and its bright floating satellite globes left him
considerably more agitated than some traditional Africans hard by in their 'skins
and long robes' (: 140), He details several other encounters (including an incident in
Natal in which a 'hardened policeman' fired on a UFO!), in order to assert that
'black people of all tribes have a long tradition of dealing with things like these
flying things from outside the Earth' (: 141). It is only with reticence. however, that
they disclose what they know: 'You come across a similar runiform! my1hology
though I think they won't tell it to strangers. (: 133).
Notwithstanding this, in perhaps the best-known of South African UFO tales,
Bevond [he Light Barrier. author Elizabeth Klarer
implicitly claims that
indigenous knowledge of otherworld civilisations was divulged to her. by induna
'Ladam' (Laduma?) during her girlhood on her family's Drakensberg farm: in
Natal. His 'prophecy' allegedly included the somewhat startling assertion that
Klarer's blonde hair would 'bring the Abelungu (white people) from the sky ...
They are the sky gods who once lived in this world, but afterwards ascended . . .'
(: 19),4 Though its protagonist was spared any such unsettling revelation. the present
account would seem to constitute a like exception to any Africa-wide tradition of
secrecy, It was imparted by an old-world, tribal Zulu, Maphelu Zungu, to a white
woman. Nimba Lulla McAyre. I have been unable to discover who she was, much
less ho\v she came to obtain the account. Nor is it known whether she transcribed it
in Zulu or English. and if the former, whether the translation too is her work, or
that of the man who preserved the text the long-serving Native Affairs
Department interpreter Carl Faye
, in whose papers it is one among several oral
histol)' interview transcripts. Nor is there any date on the original typescript or any
ready way of establishing when the encounter took place, or when the account of it
was transcribed
The flimsy typescript certainly found its place in Faye's collection thanks to his
long-standing relationship with its narrator and protagonist. Maphelu the son of
Mkhosana kaSangqwana Zungu, who was cousin to Ngqumbazi , the concubine of
King Cetshwayo who bore his successor Dinuzulu
. 'Maphelu and 1', Faye says,
'knew each other for years'. probably through the agency of Faye's mother-in-law
Mrs Eileen Matthews, a granddaughter of Henry Francis Fynn (1803-61). Maphelu,
whose birth is estimated by Faye as c.1853; died in about 1946. He had been in the
service of Fynn's son, also Henry Francis (1846-1915) when the latter was British
Resident Commissioner with Cetshwayo in Zululand north of the Mhlatuze.
Consequently Maphelu heard much about the elder Fynn, and knew the izibongo of
both mens.
Assuredly it was such connections, as well as his patrician birth, that made
Maphelu Zungu a Native Affairs Department favourite in Zululand and Natal. such
that Faye, when taking down his eyewitness account of Cetshwayo's capture
prefaced it with an interesting biographical sketch, which is worth quoting at some
length for the graphic impression it gives of the text's narrator:
I travelled to other worlds
In appearance Maphelu was a man of medium Zulu build and height, well-knit
and wiry. He was of a restless disposition, had sharp eyes, was quick in
movements, had somewhat thin lips for a Zulu, was inclined to speak rapidly
and be repetitive and was apt to disregard details, but with all that, was openly
friendly. He liked visiting, and would soon be off, slightly leaning forward, his
gait typical of that of a Zulu on an errand. In advancing age he had a staff,
udondolo, and when out walking he would put this across the small of his back,
holding it with both hands crotched backwards. There was always an air of
dignity about Maphelu.
He had fought at Isandlwana and Ulundi, and his 'gory life' included a coup­
count of twenty-two of which Faye is 'certain', and the alleged murder of a
missionary, for which he was apparently sentenced to death but subsequently
pardoned. Most importantly for an appreciation of the present text however. Faye
stresses that Zungu had apparently reconciled himself to the fact of conquest:
[He] lived to see the extensive advance made in Zululand by the work of the
whites, through their ever-increasing skills, and he had seen the benefits which
this had brought to the inhabitants. The old warrior had seen that ... the white
man had diligently brought to the Zulus ever so much of the Abalumbi' s
(wonder-workers') knowledge, abilities, helpfulness, healing and soothing
doctoring, money economy, and much else, and had shown the [Zulus] how to
do useful and profitable work for themselves. The white man had as well
brought 'quick machines' for doing work, also swift means of communication,
all wizardry undreamt -of.
It is probably also helpful to mention here, for the benefit of readers sceptical of
the account's authenticity, that a variant typescript of Faye's biographical note says
'the old warrior had noticed that ... the white man had quietly brought to the Zulus
ever so much of the white man's knowledge, abilities, enlightenment "even flying
up into the sky" , (p. 5, my emphasis). Even the title of the piece, such sceptics
might argue, is strictly speaking unfitted to the events it relates, and smacks of little
more than journalistic attention-grabbing. Those familiar with Zulu idiom might be
able to judge whether the narrative rings troe. If it has a contrived feel, they may
choose to t::tke Nimba McAyre for another Elizabeth Klarer, seeking to put on her
personal cosmology the stamp of the singular brand of authentication afforded by a
native voice or witness. Those on the other hand who are content to take the tale in
the millennial spirit, may prefer to believe after all, with Mutwa, that indeed 'if you
scratch below the surface, all our tribal people have stories about the stars' (:121).
1 travelled to other worlds
I Travelled to Other Worlds
by a Zulu
Much it is that I have seen in my time, but this ... this is like a dream.
This is what happened. I was on a journey from my home in the lowlands, to
visit people in the highlands a day's walking distance. At last I got to the
mountains, and edged upwards. In one part of the ascent the path is flanked by a
sheer rocky rise, and at the foot of this towering place is flat grassy land, quite wide,
crossed by the path. Below this haugh [sic] or shelf is a steep slope with boulders,
where there are snakes and rock-rabbits, klipspringers and baboons.
There on the shelf I sat down to rest and took out my snuff, and sniff-sniffed
whiff-whiffed. I snuffed and looked around. Then I saw something odd, something I
had never noticed before. It was a very big rock, smooth and egg-shaped, there right
next to the precipice.
I asked myself audibly, 'What is this?'
So I went to look at it, put my hand on it, and it was very slippery in all
directions. like wet clay. but it was quite dry. Then I thought I felt it move, and off I
cleared, lest it roll over me. At a safe distance I stopped, to watch.
The thing kept moving, slowly slowly, up up it moved. Away I ran at top speed,
to the side of the flat ground where the foot-path enters, and there (stopped and)
stood. because if it crashed from so high up it might do a lot of damage and leave
nothing of me but bits and pieces.
As I was running I caught glimpses of my stomach. You see for yourself that it is
a nice stomach, serving me well - it is of good capacity (tapping it). With the haste
of running. the stomach was wabble-wabbling, yibble-yibbling, and I wondered
whether it would ever serve me again for mabele (Zulu beer). Terrible.
There I stood, and asked myself, 'Hau, are you then dreaming?' I looked
upward. but there was nothing at all to see now - the Thing wasn't there gone,
clean gone.
I sat down. I looked at myself. and I was still really myself; I looked around, and
it was just ordinary broad daylight, the sun was shining. I took out my snuff and
tapped some out onto my palm, sniff, whiff, whiff, sneeeff - ah. I said to myself. No,
I will go ahead and make my visit to the people in the highlands.
So I started, meaning that when I had got to the top of the climb I would hasten
onward, where the country was easier. But on getting within full view of the
precipice at the side of the flat shelf, there the Thing was again, as I had first seen
This was scandalous and now I became scared, mature though I be - properly
scared: why should this happen to me, of all people?
A bearded man in his prime now appeared, coming from the Thing, but from
nowhere that I cQ.uld make out, and he walked with a stately gait toward me. It was
a person unknown to me, but at any rate a person, so I waited. My heart told me to
run for it but I refused, for he was unarmed and I had my assegai.
I travelled to other vv'orlds'
He came up to me, and before I could greet him, in the usual way, he said
something which sounded like 'wufu-wufu' in his beard. That beat me, and I just
looked at him. Then he undid a small neatly plaited grass satchel from a necklace he
was wearing, and took out a charm. He broke this in two, and put one piece into his
mouth and started chewing. He put the other piece into my mouth. I found myself
chewing too, and it was a bit bitter, but I swallowed. What else could I do?
He spoke again, and -marvel of marvels - I knew his speech language as well as
my own.
The . wufu-wufu , was really Zungu, my very family name. He said Zungu, you
have been scared. but all this will do you no hurt. I have come here in that (pointing
to the Thing). to see something, and my wife is with me, and our two children. All
is good. harmless. I came to this spot because I thought it was secluded, and that
nobody would notice anything. But now you are here, and you see this (again
pointing to the Thing), and I have no choice but to shmv you inside you have
lighted on my secret errand. which can no longer be concealed from you. We are on
a peaceful mission. Let me show you hmv we are travelling. Come and see inside.
\Vith that he walked toward the Thing, and I followed close to him.
Just as we started walking, the lower part of the Thing began to raise itself, as a
bird raises its wings, until it had mushroomed right out but there was no split to be
seen in the spread: the spread was complete, like an open umbrella.
I then saw that this base of the Thing was flat and that it was standing upright
on its flat.
A cleft appeared in the wall, and became a doonvay. He walked in. and I too
walked in. and we were both standing on an even floor.
The part of the floor where we were standing rose very gently, and above our
heads the ceiling opened, and we passed through the ceiling into the upper
apartment and stopped there. We had been lifted. I had felt nothing.
That upper apartment was very nice and cosy. I was gazing around this, when a
doorway opened. and there were the man's wife and two children - a boy and a girl,
the lad old enough to herd goats, and the girl to carry water. They sat down.
The mother busied herself with decorating a calabash milk-vessel, and the girl
put down beads and did'beadworking.
During this time the man had been talking to me. He asked, 'Whither were you
goingT I told him. 'To people on the highland, on my way from the lowland'.
Thereupon he said, 'Seeing you have thus been detained, through you having
noticed this carrier of mine, 1 will lift you up in it and take you to near your
destination. You will be there by sundown. There is no need for you to have any fear
you will feel nothing at all. Merely tell me how long it takes you to walk there, the
direction from here, and what the home you are visiting is like, how many huts, the
stock-fold, and what is to be seen growing there. Do you now', he asked, 'feel
anything?' 'No', I said, 'I feel nothing'. He said, 'You see, you feel nothing, and we
are up in the air. Let me show you'.
With that he went to the side of the apartment, and something parted. He looked
dmvn. and beckoned to me, saying, 'Come and see, and have no fear; this is for
! travelled to other worlds
seeing with the eyes only, and cannot make an open hole: it is like a window that is
fixed firmly'.
I went and looked.
How surprised I was! There, below, like a picture. was the country, a big expanse
of it 10'\'land and highland. hills and herding cattle, and the smaller boys herding
goats separately. Some of the bigger boys were playing stabbing the insema bulb [a
traditional boys' game], hurled down a slope, bounding and bouncing like a buck
whilst the competitors, in a row, threw their imitation assegais of sharpened thin
sticks, others with leafy branches. I saw eveI)thing, and recognised homes I knew.
I said I was satisfied, and the view-giver closed.
Turning. I noticed that the man's small daughter was talking to herself as she
was doing her beadwork talking in the speech I knew. I listened.
She picked up a bead. and said, 'My heart is black because of you, and I don't
like you any more'. Then she picked up a red one. and said, 'My heart is now red
like blood, for you have made me cross'. So she was saying as she strung each bead.
The green one: 'Now my heart is quietened, for I see the green grass. and the cattle
are grazing'. A blue one: 'Now my heart is (quietened) glad again, for I see the blue
on a clear day'. A straw-coloured bead: 'Here my heart is pleased, the grass is
yellovving, and we shall reap, and we shall go out and cut thatching grass and make
our homes snug'. A white one: 'Oh, I see only happiness!'.
Then the man spoke to me, saying 'You have been hearing my child as she
strings beads. Now we are above cloud, and you have felt nothing'.
We went to the viewer. and it opened. There below, I saw a wonder: no land,
everywhere white, all crimply, different from what clouds are like from the earth.
Away away up the dome of the sky was the half-moon, still aloft, all by itself there,
as though flung on the sky and just stuck there. The sun was shining, but was
obscured now by cloud. The viewer closed.
The man said, 'Now I shall take you down, to be in good time for your visit'. He
said soon after. 'Come now to the seeing place, and direct me, for we are over the
highland (homes) and homes are clear to the eye. I indicated to him, and we got
near the home I wanted to visit. The viewer closed, and soon he said, 'We are down
on the earth'. I had felt nothing nothing.
He said. 'Come. and stand with me here on the alighting place'. Next we were
on the ground. the two of us.
I had been half a day's foot journey without having waked at all, and here I was
right close to my destination, and I saw people of the home I was visiting - but they
took no notice, as if they did not see us.
The man said, 'Come back, forget not your assegai', and we went back. 'Where
did you leave it?' he asked. I looked, but I saw no assegai. He put out his hand, and
said. 'But here it is', and then I saw it, and he handed it back to me. 'Farewell', I
said to his family, and we went out, he and I, to the ground.
On the ground he asked, 'When are you likely to go back to your horneT I
replied, 'There is elsewhere I shall be going, but I shall pass here on the morning of
the fourth day from today, homeward'.
I took him by the hand, and said 'Thank you' .
I travelled to other worlds
Then we parted, and I stood there watching him go, but somehow he just
disappeared, as on the Thing.
I took my way home, all in wonder.
I had seen far more than swallows see from the air, perhaps as much as the
vultures that vanish from sight up in the sky.
Call away, Henry. 1970a. The Religious System ofthe AmaZulu. Cape Town: C. Struik (Pty) Ltd.
Call away. Henry. 1970b. Nursery Tales, Traditions and Histories of the Zulus. in their own words/ a
translatIOn mtoEnglish and notes. Westport, Conn.: Negro University Press.
Faye, Carl. 1923. Zulu Referencesfor Interpreters and Students. Pietennaritzburg: City Printing Works Ltd.
Fave Papers, National Archives, Pietennaritzburg Depot. A141. (Box 7: ' "I Travelled to Other Worlds", By
a Zulu, As Told to Nimba Lulla McAyre'; 'Notes & Drafts, "When the British took Cetshwayo", as told
by Maphelu Zungu kaMkhosana, set down by Carl Faye'; 'The Taking of Cetshwayo, Told by Martin
Oftebro '; 'The Taking of Cetshwayo Zulu. Told by Chief Zimema Mzimela-Mnguni of Mthunzini, &
Recorded by Carl Faye').
Filter, H. and S. Bourquin. 1986. Paulma Dlamini: Servant ofTwo Kings. Killie Campbell Africana Library,
Durban, and University of Natal Press, Pietennaritzburg.
Klarer. Elizabeth. 1980. Beyond the Light Barrier, Howard Timmins Publishers.
Madela, Laduma. 1997. Zulu mythology as written and illustrated by the Zulu prophet Laduma Madela.
Ed. Katesa Schlosser. Kiel: Schmidt & Klaunig.
Mutwa. Vusamazulu Credo. 1996. Song of the Stars: The Lore of a Zulu Shaman. Stephen Larsen, ed.
Station Hill Openings, Barrytown Ltd.
I. Notably, in the most recent publication by Katesa Schlosser (1997), who has documented extensively the
mythographies of the late Ceza lightning-doctor Laduma Madela, there is nothing in all Madela's rich
theogony which could be construed as UFO-related.
2. Mutwa's image has had quite a makeover since the days when the liberation movement blacklisted him as
a reactionary force propagating 'false consciousness'. He has become the de facto spokesman for all
things mythical and antiquarian in the African renaissance, and his controversial writings have come to
inspire many, including young South African filmmakers. (For a recent example, see the Weekly Mail
and Guardian 9 15 October 1998, Friday supplement, p4).
3. In Beyond the Light Barrier, set in the mid-'50s, a humanoid alien named Akon from the planet Meton
near Alpha Centauri, fathers a son on the author as one of 'only a few. chosen for breeding purposes
fl'om beyond [i\kon's] solar system, to infuse new blood into our ancient race' (:135). Mutwa mentions
having recently met and prayed with Klarer 'to the extraterrestrials on behalf of the people of Africa'. He
finds 'nothing unusual or so unearthly about Madame Klarer's story. There have been many women
throughout Africa in various centuries who have attested to the t.1.ct that they have been fertilized by
strange creatures from somewhere' (: 152).
4. Some might feel that this introduces an unsavoury ambiguity into a book whose underlying sentiments
may be told from the author's assertion that her hybrid offspring 'will not be born in this planet, where a
racialistic outlook submerges all sane and intellectual thought' (: 127). A milder dose of etlmocentrism
also enters into the present account. Although no direct reference is made to the physiognomy or
'ethnicity' ofthe aliens, their shipboard domestic pursuits (notably beadwork) reflect directly the culture
ofthe narrator.
S. Faye was sworn in as Interpreter before the Natal Supreme Court in 1919, and two years later entered in
the Union Civil Service List (Faye 1923: 6, 90, 9). Having at the age of seventeen met lames Stuart, the
archetype of the Zuluphile he himself was to become in the course of his career, he became right-hand
man of Chief Native Commissioner, Harry Lugg, in the 1930s, and at all important functions interpreted
for the royal house and leaders ofthe Zulu establishment.
6. The title is followed by 'World copyright reserved by Outspan', but there is no further detail, and no date
setting the somewhat daunting task of searching an un-indexed weekly magazine published from 1927
to 1957, throughout which entire period the piece may (or may not) have actually appeared in print.
/ travelled to other worlds
FUlthennore it can only be inferred from the occurrence of the name Zungu in the text that he was its
author. Nowhere in the document is it explicitly stated, but in view of the man's status, and his relation
with Faye. the assumption seems fair.
7. Maphelu's father Mkhosana was therefore closely linked to the royal house, and it was at his homestead
kwaNdasa (Place of Thriving) in the Ngome Forest that an English search party at last caught up with
and captured Cetshwayo following his flight after the Battle of Ulundi. Maphelu was present and gave
Faye an account of the event, titled "When the English Took Cetywayo The Story of Mapela Zungu"
(Faye Papers Box 7).
8. Faye makes much of Maphelu's 'oldentime Zuluness': he mentions his first encounter with 'the "magic"
of amakhandlela, candles', and how '[when] once Mapelu stayed as a guest at my home, occupying a
com.fortable outbuilding of brick, with all the facilities he needed ... (h)e had no wish to sleep on a bed
"upon the air", as he said, and preferred a mattress on the floor, near the fireplace'.
9. Faye clearly understood this event as having great symbolic importance for Zulu history, as he took down
two further accounts - one, on 6 May 1927, from an eyewitness on the 'other side' - the Zulu linguist
Maltin Oftebro, youngest son ofthe Norwegian missionary Ommund Oftebro CuMondi'), and a friend of
Faye's: the other on 6 July 1928 from Chief Zimema Mzimela-Mnguni of Mthunzini (Faye, Papers Box
7). It is worth noting that another Zulu account of this episode has appeared recently, from one of the
King's handmaidens, Paulina Dlamini (Filter & Bourquin).
Exotic yet often colourless
The imported place names ofKwaZulu-Natal
Place names are bound up with the history of a country. Sometimes their etymology
and literal meaning are significant: for others, the origin the reason for the name,
or who gave it is more important. Then there are some for which none of this
information is available, but which exist simply as symbols. Some names are fixed
in public awareness by one moment in their history: Isandlwana, Majuba, Trustfeed.
Place names seem immutable. and yet they are surprisingly slippery. They come and
they go: they change in form; places may have more than one name: and the same
name may be given to more than one place.
Before considering some aspects of place names in K\vaZulu-Natal. a brief
explanation of naming categories is necessary. The term "geographical names". or
"toponyms·. covers both natural features and those created by people, the latter
including everything from cities down to streets, squares and bridges. In South
Africa. there is an official advisory body to the government called the National Place
Names Committee (NPNC), currently within the Department of Arts, Culture,
Science and Technology. which since 1939 has supervised the official approval of
names in five categories: towns and suburbs. post offices. railway stations and
railway bus halts. The names of features in municipal areas such as streets and
parks are the responsibility of local government. There are, of course, many features
that fall outside these categories. such as airports. border posts, hospitals, dams,
nature reserves and highways. which are named by various government
departments. The names of natural features are recorded by the Department of
Surveys and Mapping in consultation with the NPNC. Some of the most colourful
names which most immediately reflect fashion and mood are those given to
privately owned entities such as farms and buildings, and settlements spontaneously
named by people but not submitted for formal approval. This article looks at some
names of to\\/ns. suburbs and settlements. railway stations. post offices and
topographical features. and includes names that have not been submitted to the
Successive European visitors and settlers have left traces of their languages and
countries of origin.
Though not much trace of the Portuguese remains. they did
make their mark with part of the current name for the province. Natal was given its
name by Vasco da Gama on Christmas Day, 1497. It was long thought, following
Eric Axelson, that da Gama actually gave the name to territory to the south of the
present border of the province. but Brian Stuckenberg has recently argued that the
lVata/1a 28. (1998), Elwyn lenkins pp. 14-22
Exotic yet ({[ten colourless
fleet had probably reached the vicinity of Hibberdene.::: The Voortrekkers kept this
name when they called their republic Natalia on 16 October 1840.
Some Portuguese names have shifted. Don Stayt records, 'When survivors of the
wreck St. Benedict in April 1554 reached the Tugela River on their long journey to
Mozambique they called it S1. Lucia. The name, however, was transferred to the
estuary further north by Manuel Teresreco when he surveyed the coast in 1575.' The
name Oro Point comes from the name meaning 'The Downs of Gold' which was
first given to St Lucia and then also moved, this time to Kosi Bay. Among the
Portuf,,'llese names that have not survived are Pescaria (,The Fisheries'), given to
what is now Durban by the St. Benedict party. Terra dos Fumos (,Land of Smoke'),
given to Tongaland by Manuel Perestrelo, and Rio dos Peixos for Cwebeni
(Richards Bay).
White settlers and missionaries gave names to new places, hitherto unnamed,
and to places that already had Zulu names. On the aesthetics of replacing the
original names. Revd Charles Pettman, best known for his dictionary of South
African English. Ajricanderisms, had this to say in 1914:
Travellers and others have often remarked upon the sameness and baldness of
much of our South African nomenclature: it is characterised generally by a want
of nice and accurate discrimination, by not a little repetition .... and also by a
considerable amount of real ugliness, testifYing to a lack of originality, a paucity
of idea. and to an a] most entire absence of poetic or aesthetic fancy on the part
of owners of the soil - some of the native names would have been vastly

After the Portuguese came the Dutch. The spelling of most Dutch names was
changed to conform to Afrikaans orthography in the 1940s, such as Wasbank for
Waschbank. Though to be found all over the province, they are particularly
prominent in the north. The lown of Utrecht was originally called Schoonstroom
after the farm on which it was laid out in 1855. A year later it was renamed after the
town in the Netherlands. The original meaning of Utrecht, 'Outside meadow', was
irrelevant to the symbolism of this change, which was initiated by the local church
There are distinct differences between the sort of names that Afrikaners and
English-speaking settlers gave. One is that places named after people in Afrikaans
usually have a generic element added, such as 'drif in Dejagersdrif. 'berg' in
Biggarsberg and 'burg' in Pietermaritzburg, whereas English-speakers preferred to
use the personal name on its own, as in Durban and Stanger, and sometimes\vith
the possessive. as in Gillitts (though they also created compound names, such as
Pinetown and Fynnland). The Afrikaans practice in fact conforms to the modern
rules of the NPNC, based on the international guidelines of the United Nations, that
place names based on personal names should include a generic element in order to
avoid confusion with an individual. Unfortunately, adding a generic does contribute
to the monotony that Pettman complained about, since South Africans do not choose
from a very wide repertoire and end up with something unimaginative, whether it be
'drif in Afrikaans or 'dale' in English.
Exotic yet often colourless
Another distinctive feature of Afrikaans names is complexity of meaning, such
as the use of abstract nouns to convey a statement (notably Vryheid), and names that
tell a story, such as Weenen, Berou, Hongerspoort, Wondergeluk and Toggekry
(meaning something like 'Got it after all'). Afrikaans nomenclature is also more
like Zulu than English in being more descriptive of the landscape. such as Kloof
Kranskop and Boomlaer.
English-speakers were very fond of repeating place names from Britain.
Sometimes this would be prompted by a perceived similarity, at other times by
nostalgia; less charitably, one might ascribe this practice to arrogance or lack of
imagination. From Ireland came Dargle and Donnybrook, and Scotland provided
many - Balgowan, Ballengeich, Kelso, Glencoe and Dundee. At least two Welsh
names can be found: Cymru itself, near Mtwalume, and Llewellyn, a station near
Mount Currie. England is the origin of scores, all with their evocative associations,
some well known, others obscure: Malvern, Henley, Sarnia, Mersey, Kearsney. One
name from the old country that did not endure was Beaulieu, which the settlers
found . embarrassing' and changed to Richmond. The Commonwealth is marked by
Ottawa and Malta.
An American connection is to be found in the names of mission stations founded
by Americans. Adams Mission was named after Dr Newton Adams, and Groutville
was named after Rev. Aldin Grout of the American Missionary Society, who
established his mission in 1844.
German missionaries and settlers brought German place names. New Gennany
was established in 1848 with its name in German, Neu-Deutschland, which was
subsequently translated as Gennany and later became known as New Germany.
Others that followed include New Hanover (1850) and Wartburg, and personal
names (Otto's Bluff and Ahrens). Clausthal was named by Bernard Schwikkard in
1852 after his wife's birthplace in Hanover. It is now commonly called Clansthal,
which illustrates how place names can be corrupted. Marburg, though intended by a
German mission for Gennan settlers, was settled in 1882 by a party of Norwegians,
who then gave a Scandinavian name to Oslo Beach. The Netherlands, already
mentioned, is also represented by New Guelderland, settled by eighty Dutch settlers
brought out by T. Colenbrander. Roman Catholic missionaries brought Genazzano
from Italy, and French Protestant missionaries created the name Mont-aux-Sources.
British names commemorate missionaries and clerics (Colenso), pioneers
(Dunn's Reserve, Curry's Post), the sponsors of the 1850 settlers (Byrne, Estcourt,
Lidgetton), military men (Richards Bay, after Sir Frederick Richards of the Royal
Navy), officials and public figures (Bulwer, Port Shepstone, Escombe, Harding,
Frere - the list is long). Royalty gave their names to three of the eight counties of
Natal, Victoria, Alfred and Alexandra, and Marina Beach is not nautical, but was
named after the Duchess of Kent in the 1930s. A couple of places bear a celebrity's
given name, which is odd, considering the fonnality of Victorian protocol, but
perhaps they were adopted because they are so distinctive: Pomeroy (Sir George
Pomeroy Colley) and Melmoth (Sir Melmoth Osborn). Ladysmith, everyone knows,
is named after Sir Harry Smith's wife, but the Aliwal Shoal is not connected with
him in the way that Aliwal North commemorates his victory in I n d i a ~ it was first
Exotic yet often colourless
recorded by the master of the ship Aliwal in 1849. In one odd instance, a postal
agency was named after two people, Denny Dalton, the surnames of two Australian
prospectors who had a profitable gold mine 84 km from Vryheid.
It is surprising how people's names incorporated in place names can become
misspelt over a period of time, in various places such as signboards and the usage of
different government departments. In the late 1980s the NPNC rectified the spelling
of the names of two passes in the northern part of the province. Lang' s Nek had
become known as Laing's Nek, even though it was named after William Timothy
Lang, who purchased the farm at its base in 1874. Another pioneer was Thomas
George Collings, who trekked with his wife from Oudtshoorn. They were the first
whites to use the pass that was named after him. However. it was variously spelled
as Collin' s Pass and Colling' s Pass, and this has now been standardised as Collings
Pass, \vithout an apostrophe.
Nowadays naming places after people is frowned upon in South Africa, because
it is realised that the names can become controversial following a change of regime.
Africans as well as whites have done it in the past, and the result is a colourful
record of our but perhaps the time has come to avoid being needlessly
Indian languages are hardly represented in South Africa. One name with an
Indian element (now obsolete in the home country) is Bombay Heights. There is one
purely Indian one. but that was previously spelled incorrectly and had to be
corrected in 1994: it is Luxmi, a post office in Pietermaritzburg named after the
goddess of wealth. Generally, residential areas formerly reserved for Indians bear
English names such as Reservoir Hills, although the situation with street names is
very different. Research by Varijakshi Prabhakaran has revealed that although the
Indian suburbs of Durban have English names, they include '306 street names of
both Hindu and Muslim religious origins and of various [Indian] linguistic groups'. 4
The military were responsible for names such as the many 'Forts', most of which
have gone now, and names for obscure topographical features that were rendered
suddenly significant in some campaign, such as Advance Hill, near Colenso. The
45th Cutting and the suburb in which it is located, Sherwood, are two reminders of
the 45th Regiment, later known as the Sherwood Foresters, who formed the garrison
there from 1843 to 1860. Camperdown has an obscure military connection, named
by John Vanderplank after the British naval victory over the Dutch in 1787.
Other naming systems to be found in the province include those derived from
shipwrecks. Wrecks gave their names to Ambleside and Fascadale (places near Port
Shepstone named after wrecks of 1868 and 1895 respectively), the Annabella Bank,
once a hazard at the mouth of Durban Bay (after a wreck of 1856), and the Tenedos
Reef and Fort Tenedos (after a naval vessel damaged on the reef in 1879).
A whole informal naming system has been developed by the mountain climbing
fraternity for the peaks, cliffs and rock shelters of the Drakensberg, some features of
which have become official.
Other naming systems, which are rather rare in the province, are Biblical names
such as Berea, and classical names, represented by Verulam, named after the Earl of
Verulam, a sponsor of British settlers, whose title came from Verulamium, the
Exotic yet often colourless
Roman town at St. Albans, and Halcyon Drift a hamlet near Mount Currie, in
which a classical name is incongruously linked with a very South African feature.
Some namers, and the meaning of some names, are unknown. Nobody knows
who gave European names to two of the region's best-known geographical features,
the Valley of a Thousand Hills and the Drakensberg. According to R.O. Pearse, the
name Drakensberg 'was in use well before the Voortrekkers came to Natal in
1837'." A name of unknown origin is Normandien, a pass and postal agency near
Newcastle. There are two celebrated names of disputed meaning. Wyebank and
Winklespruit. Wyebank could have been named after the River Wye in England, or
the 'Y -Bank'. an incline on the railway. or it could come from the Afrikaans '\-vye'
Cwide'). The origin of Winklespruit is hotly contested. It could come from the store
Cv.:inkel·. as some people think the Zulus would have called jt)6 \vhich Sydney
Turner set up on the beach in 1875 to sell the contents of the wrecked schooner
TOl1fD that he had bought the rights to salvage: or it could be derived from the
periwinkles to be found in the lagoon. During the rule of the National Party
government this became one of the place names that were a focus of conflict
between English and Afrikaans. the other disputes being over the name
Voortrekkerstrand. which was given to the post office at Munster on the South
Coast. and the rival claims of Arniston and Waenhuiskrans in the Cape.
While the origins of some well-known places are forgotten, there have also been
names. and even settlements, that were stillborn or shortlived. The site of Port
Edward was bought by T.K. Pringle. who called it Banner Rest where he planned to
'lay down his banner'. There he laid out a township which it was proposed to call
KenningtoR after his name, Ken, but when it was established in 1924 it was
renamed in honour of Edward, Prince of Wales. Winder was a name originally
proposed for the new town of Ladysmith, after a trader, George Winder, but Lt
Governor Pine would not allow it as he had already decided to honour the wife of
the Governor of the Cape Colony. Springfield was the original name for Winterton,
\vhich also had to give way for the honouring of a VIP. named after the
Empress of France, was to have been a port that the New Republic planned to
establish at St. Lucia, but nothing came of it. In the 1960s Westlands and Morelands
were alternatives suggested for renaming Cato Manor (just as Sophiatown was
changed to Triomi), but they did not stick.
Two settlements of the immigrants of 1849-1851 that are ghost towns today are
York and Byrne. Blackburn was a hamlet on the south bank of the Umhlanga River,
north of Red Hill, that sprang up when a bridge was erected there in 1872, but it is
gone today. A town that has died in recent years is Burnside, which was still
flourishing in the 1950s while the coal mine operated there.
Countless names that were given in one language have been replaced by names
in another. This is most obviously the case with Zulu names which were replaced by
the 'official' names put in place by Afrikaans- and later English-speakers. In many
cases. the old names have not fallen into disuse, leading to a system of dual names
which is well known and recognised informally. Most Natalians know that
Thekwini (or Thekweni) is Durban. Where a new town was established with a non­
Zulu name, Zulu-speakers have often developed their own version, such as Efilidi
f",xotic yet often colourless
for Vryheid. Since there are many dual place names in African languages and
English or Afrikaans in South Africa, and certain pairs in English 'and Afrikaans
are already recognised by the NPNC, thus creating a precedent, it will be incumbent
on the NPNC in the future to develop a policy on the recognition of these names that
is feasible. acceptable to all the people of the country, and in keeping with United
Nations guidelines on multiple naming.
In addition to English replacing Zulu. English replaced Afrikaans when
Houtboschrand gave way to Curry's Post. However, there have also been instances
of the power of colourful Zulu outweighing effete English names. An attempt at the
time of Captain Gardiner's map of 1835 to call the Umbilo River the Avon failed:
and although the township known as South Barrow, on the south bank of the
Umkomaas RiveL kept that name from 1862 to 1924, it was eventually superseded
by Umkomaas. The township of Ixopo. founded in 1878. was renamed Stuartstown
after the resident magistrate. Marthinus Stuart, was killed at the Battle of Ingogo,
but it later resumed its Zulu name (albeit in a form which is currently disputed).
Naming patterns since 1977
Place names are not simply part of the early history of the province. Names for all
sorts of ne"y entities continue to be given. and occasionally names are corrected or
changed. Some of these are officially recognised and recorded by the NPNC, while
others are recorded by other government agencies or remain unofficial. Names
approved by the minister on the recommendation of the NPNC include existing
names. such as those of suburbs. approved for the first time or given to new entities,
particularly post offices. The last published list, which covers the period 1977 to
1988. gives useful data on naming patterns in that period.
In the twelve years 1977-88 the Minister approved 1 274 names, of which 111
\vere in Natal and KwaZulu. The propOItion of names in English. Afrikaans and
other languages compared to names in African languages in the province was
fractionally more than the national proportion, namely forty-seven per cent to fifty­
three per cent. Of the non-African names, eighty-two per cent were English, eleven
per cent Afrikaans. and seven per cent 'other' (which includes made-up names).
The history of development in the region during that period is reflected in the
number of names approved for entities in a particular town. Richards Bay received
two (Birdswood and Brackenham), and so did Pietermaritzburg (Lotusville and
Mysore Ridge). far the largest number for a single town went to Newcastle,
which received twenty-two new suburbs, racially segregated residential areas and
post offices. The kinds of names chosen for Newcastle reflect the tastes that
dominated the national scene at that time: seven 'parks'. two ·viBes'. a 'rand'. an
ugly coinage (Ferrax), Lennoxton. Schuinshoogte, Vlam. and a string of bland
cliches: Bergview, Fairleigh, Fernwood, Rickview, Riverside, Signal Hill, Sunny
Ridge and Sunset View. The 'parks' are where the commemoration of people is to
be found. in names such as BarI)' Hertzogpark and Viljoen Park.
The rest of the province saw its share of similarly nondescript names: Ashwood,
Brookdale, Forest Haven, Palmview, Waterberg Wood, Westmead. Local colour was
added to the conventional elements in Caneside and Mangrove Park. Ballitoville
Exotic yet often colourless
bucked the trend by officially shedding the 'ville' part. 'Modern' coinages
comprised Arbex, Con marine, Durmail and ProspectoR Indian names could be
spotted in Lotusville and Shastri Park, and Afrikaans, true to form, produced a
picturesque complex name, Meer en See.
The next published list of place names in the province is one published in 1992
by a non-governmental organisation. the Human Rights Commission. Entitled The
Tl'.'O South Africas: A People's Geography. it was an attempt to identify and map
the 'African. Indian and Coloured townships in South Africa'.
The list is probably
incomplete. especially when it comes to informal settlements. In Natal and
K waZulu, thirty-one per cent of the 143 names are in English, Afrikaans and other
languages, and sixty-nine per cent in Zulu. Most of those with non-Zulu names are
townships that were assigned to Indian and Coloured people, but there are a few
notable African ones as well, such as Limehill (once notorious as a 'dumping
ground') and Taylor's Halt.
The landmark year of 1994 saw the publication of a comprehensive list of
informal settlements in KwaZulu-NataL painstakingly collated from information
gathered for a research project on the subject that was undertaken by the Steering
Committee on Informal Settlement Development in Natal. 10 It contains 230 names,
of which 118. or fifty-one per cent, are in English. Afrikaans and languages other
than Zulu. Although these settlements are occupied almost entirely by Africans, this
proportion of non-Zulu names is higher than it was for all the official names
approved from 1977 to 1988. An explanation could be that many of the names by
which the informal settlements were recorded are simply descriptive of their
situation. such as Duffs Road Station. Effingham Quarry, Clare Hills Dump,
Stanger Municipal Dump and Stop 8, and the researchers have used English for
this. Cold official designations are also given in English, such as Block AK, Buffer
Strip, DD Section, and Ixopo Transit Camp. Included in this number are also all
those that have alternative names in Zulu, it being a feature of informal settlements
that many of them have several names.
The names of these settlements reflect a naming process that had been taking
place over several decades. Many of them are not originaL but take their name from
existing nearby places, of which farms or the names of the farmers are typical:
Brooks Farm, Glade Farm, Nenes Farm, Ngcobo's Farm, Pakkies Plaas. Missions
(such as Reichenau Mission and Springvale Mission), a factory (Sarmcol), and the
names of well-known places such as Mountain View and Plessislaer are used. Hence
old names have been given a new lease on life. as illustrated by the Dutch spellings
of Valsch River and Welbedacht.
A feature which is common among informal settlements in South Africa is the
transfer of place names from elsewhere, even when they are names which most
people would think had unpleasant associations. In KwaZulu-Natal there are at least
two like this: Soweto, situated near Inanda, and White City (which is a section of
Soweto in Gauteng as well as another township at Saldanha Bay). situated near
It is difficult to tell the origins of some of the names without undertaking field
studies to obtain oral evidence, but a couple that obviously show that they were
Exotic yet often colourless
named by their inhabitants are Tin Town (also known as Gamalakhe) near Port
Shepstone, and Zig-Zag, a community of 200 people near Pinetown.
The names of informal settlements have not been submitted to the NPNC unless
they are part of existing residential areas that have been submitted. However,
developments in the 1990s are contributing to the official recording of these names
elsewhere. Both the Central Statistical Service and the Independent Electoral
Commission are mapping and recording all residential areas, and these
developments are monitored by the Department of Surveys and Mapping as part of
its ongoing updating of the official maps of the country. The SA Post Office has
declared its intention of ensuring that every citizen gets an address, and it is making
rapid progress in establishing post offices all over the country which will make this
possible. This is reflected in the lists of names which have been submitted to the
NPN C for official approval since the beginning of 1994. I :2
. The recent lists of the NPNC also reflect in other ways the transition that the
country is experiencing, It will be recalled that the NPNC currently has jurisdiction
over the names of towns and suburbs, post offices, railway stations and railway bus
halts. New legislation is expected to alter these, particularly extending jurisdiction
to the names of natural features, and giving the Commission (as it will be called)
powers to be more proactive over issues such as recording names regardless of
whether they have been submitted, and reviewing undesirable names. Clarity over
the role of provincial and local governments in the recognition of place names will
also be ensured.
In the meantime, almost the only category of name that has been submitted since
1994 is that of post offices, which are being set up at an unprecedented rate. The SA
Post Office works closely with the NPNC to ensure that the precepts of the NPNC
and the United Nations Guidelines are observed, ensuring that local communities
are consulted and invited to suggest names for their new post offices. The result is
that the new names reflect local demographics rather than ideology, as happened in
the past. There has been a drop in the proportion of new names in English,
Afrikaans and languages other than African languages since 1988: of the sixty-one
ne'" names approved for K waZulu-Natal between March 1994 and January 1998,
they represent thirty-nine per cent. Of those, the proportion of English names has
dropped slightly from eighty-two per cent to seventy-six per cent, and the proportion
of Afrikaans names has also dropped, from eleven per cent for 1977-88 to eight per
Among the new post offices are several with bilingual names: Buffelsdale,
Tugela Mouth, Umvoti Slopes, KwaPett, and perhaps Folweni could be included
here. since it is derived from the Africanised form of the Afrikaans word 'voor',
meaning 'furrow'. The old favourites among generic terms seem to be dwindling:
there is only one 'ville' (Copesville), one 'view' (Landview, in Pietermaritzburg)
and. remarkably. no 'park'.
The most interesting development arises from the new policy of the Post Office
to locate post offices in shops and shopping centres. Previously, the NPNC applied a
strict rule that official place names could not have a commercial connection because
that provided free advertising, but it has had to concede that although the names of
E,xotic yet often colourles.s'
shopping malls and shops may be regarded as commercial. it makes sense to the
public that the post offices bear the same name, Some of these names are quite
peculiar. and might not have found favour with the language purists of the NPNC in
the old days. but the new spirit of tolerance in the country has found its way here as
welL And so there are South Africans whose address in future will be a box number
at Four Three or Hyper by the Sea - a far cry from the cosy Paddocks and
lnglenooks that the residents of the province created for themselves in the past.
~ O T E S
The historieal inionnation in this article is drawn largely from Where on Earth? by Don Sta)1.
2 Bnan Stuekenberg. 'Vasco da Gama and the Naming of Natal", in NatalIa 2"7
3 Reverend Charles Penman, !Votes on South African Place Names, p. 37.
4 Varijakshi Prabhakaran. A Study of Indian Names for Streets in Durban, Nomina Afhcana. p. 5.
5. R.o. Pearse. Barrier o(Spears, p. i.
6. The word I(li) vlnkili is given as an alternative to the Zulu word isitolo for 'shop' in both the English and
LlIlu DlctiOnwy by Doke. Malcolm and Sikakana and the Zulu-English Dictionary by Doh and
7. Department of National Education, Gfjic/al Place Names In the Republic of South Africa. Approved
8. For an analysis of national trends during this period. see E.R. Jenkins. PT Raper and LA Moller.
Changing Place Names. pp. 63-68.
<). Roddy Payne and Philip Stickler. The Two South Afncas.
10. The list was compiled by Rob Evans for Here to Stay, edited by Doug Hindson and Jetl'McCarthy, pp.
11. For an analysis of national trends in the naming of infonnal settlements. see E.R. Jenkins et al ..
Place Names, pp. 70-76,
12. National Place Names Committee, 1994-1998,
Doke. CM., Malcolm, D.McK. and Sikakana, lM.A English and Zulu Dictionary. Johannesburg:
llniversity ofthe Witwatersrand Press, 1982.
Doke. CM. and Vilakazi. B.W. Zulu-English DictiOnary. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand
Press. 1972.
Hindson. Doug and McCarthy. Jeft: eds. Here To Stay: Informal Settlements In KwaZulu-Natal. Durban:
Indicator Press. University of NataL 1994.
Jenkins. E.R .. Raper, P.E., M611er. L.A. Changing Place Names. Durban: Indicator Press. University of
!\ataL 1996.
Names Society of Southern Africa. C onClse Gazetteer ofSouth Afhca. Pretoria: Names Society of Southern
Africa. 1994.
National Place Names Committee. Official Place J"lames in the Republic of South AtTica. Approved
1988. Pretoria: Department of National Education (Culture). 1988.
National Place Names Committee. Unpublished Minutes of meetings. Pretoria: Department of Arts, Culture.
Science and Technology. 1994-1998.
Payne. Roddy and Stickler, Phi lip. The Two South ;ifricas: A People's Geography. Johannesburg: Human
Rights Commission, 1992.
Pettman, Reverend Charles. Notes on South African Place Names. Kimberley: Privately printed, 19 I 4.
Pearse. R.O. Barner ofSpears: Drama ofthe Drakensberg. Cape Town: Howard Timmins, 1973.
Prabhakaran. Varijakshi. A Study of Indian Names for Streets in Durban. Nomina Afncana 11(2),
November 1997, 1-20.
Raper. P.E. DictIOnary ofSouthern Afncan Place Names, Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 1987.
Stayt. Don ['Wayfarer']. l.flhere on Earth? A GUide to the Place Names ofNatal and Zululand. Durban:
The Daily News, 1971.
Stuckenberg, Brian, 'Vasco da Gama and the Naming of Natal'. Natalia 27,1997, 19-29.
Zulu place names
Toponymic lapses are faults or mistakes in place names which are found in maps,
records. telephone directories. signposts, etc. At face value they appear small. but on
closer inspection. one realises that they are vitally important. because names should
not fail to perform an unequivocal and unambiguous locational function. In
K waZulu-NataL as in other countries, difficulty arises when place names have been
wrongly spelt. Once incorrectly spelt. they fail to perform their locational function.
Toponymic lapses are caused by a number of factors. One major reason for incorrect
renderings in the spelling of names is the attempt to facilitate pronunciation by non­
speakers of a particular language. Mispronunciation leads to strange and incorrect
spellings. and once a place name is wrongly spelt or discarded, the cultural message
also gets lost. Reasons for the incorrect spelling of place names may include
ignorance or inadequate knowledge of the grammar or latest orthographic rules of
the target language. marginalisation of the inhabitants of a particular area and
hypercorrection. Toponymic lapses also occur when the language in question is
underrated by cartographers, and names are corrupted in the drawing of maps, and
later in the inscription of signposts. Once that happens. the locational function of a
place name is compromised.
Richard. in a paper delivered at Quebec (1988:7), contends that 'names fill a
double role. a cultural role in terms of the message they convey . . . and they also
express the soul of the country in an exuberant and spontaneous manner. Names
have a technical role in terms of their locational values'.
This article will first consider some grammatical rules of Zulu'" to enable the
reader to follow the study more easily. Zulu, like all Bantu languages, has nouns
which are governed by a prefixal system. It will become clear, for instance, why is it
wrong for a speaker to exclude the locative prefix of a place name, referring to
Editor's note: Some writers (including Professor Zungu) now prefer to use the word isiZulu when
referring to the language in English discourse. While accepting that isiZulu is the language's own name
for itself ],.../atalta continues to use the accepted English lexical term Zulu, just as it would use the words
French. Gennan or Spanish to denote those languages, and not Francais, Deutsch or Espagnol.
.Vata/IQ 28. (1998), Phyllis 1.N. Zungu pp. 2 3 ~ 3 3
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
ThekwinL instead of EThekwini, Mgungundlovu instead of Emgungundlovu, etc.
The treatment of nouns will be followed by a discussion of toponymic lapses caused
by incorrect spelling. Parallel names of some places and institutions will be dealt
with. as will a few place names which have been Africanised.
This is an ongoing study but it is hoped that this article will bring to light some
of the mistakes of the past, such as the lack of aspiration in most place names with
th. ph. kh (Pumula instead of Phumula, Isipingo instead of Isiphingo, etc.), but it
will exclude orthography which changes from time to time. It is also hoped that it
will be a contribution to the history of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and to the
study of onomastics.
The prexifal System of Zulu nouns
Class e.g.
umu-, um­ umuntu person
(a) u­ ugogo granny
2 aba-, abe- ab­ abantu people
2(a) 0­ ogogo grannies
3 umu-, um­ umunga mimosa tree
umbango contention over a claim
3(a) u­ uswidi sweet (a confectionery)
4 imi iminga mimosa trees
5 Hi-, il­ itheku male with one testicle
6 ama-, ame amanzimtoti sweet water
7 isi-, is­ isiphingo thin plaited branch of a tree
used for thatching a hut
9 iN­ imbokodo round stone
10-8 iziN­ izimbokodo smooth round stones
11 ulu­ ulwandle ocean
12-13 (Not found in Zulu)
14 ubu­ ubuhle beauty
15 uku­ ukusa dawn
The formation of place names from nouns
Place names are in effect locative adverbs because they give the location of an entity.
A simple rule which converts nouns to locatives is to modify all the initial vowels of
the nouns from class 3 onwards, into e- (except for class 11 where the u- becomes 0-.
Classes 1, la, 2, 2a and 3a prefix k and ku-. This process changes nouns into
adverbs of place or time and is indicated by to, in, at, from, by.
Most Zulu nouns suffix -ini on conversion to the but there are also
exceptions. Classes 1, la, 2, and 2a hardly ever suffix -ini. Nouns of classes 3 to 15
usually suffix -ini to the final vowel. For instance, a noun ending with -a+ini
becomes -eni.
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
-a+ini>-eni -a:izinqola ezinqoleni
-e+ini>-eni -e:isikole esikoleni
-i+ini>-ini -i: umuziwezinto emziniwezinto
-i+ini> -i:ithusi ethusini
-o+ini>-weni -0:izimbokodo ezimbokodweni
-u+ini>-wini -u:itheku ethekwini
When using place names derived from personal nouns, (viz. those in noun
classes 1 and la) to indicate motion towards, the prefix ku- is used and this is
followed by the locative formative -a- , e.g. u+a>wa
ku+a+Makhutha > K waMakhutha
ku+a+Mashu > K waMashu
ku+a +dokotela > K wadokotela
It must be emphasised that not all Zulu place names undergo suffixation, as is
also the case with nouns. Some place names derive their existence from verbs,
idiophones, etc., and they carry in them the history of the nation. In other words,
there is more to a name than meets the eye.
3 emngeni < emungeni < umunga (at a place with mimosa trees)
embangweni < umbango (at a place of dispute)
3a KwaSwidi < uswidi (at a factory where sweets are manufactured)
4 emngeni < iminga (at a place with mimosa trees)
5 eThekwini < itheku (at a place shaped like a male organ with one testicle
6 eManzimtoti < amanzimtoti (at a place with sweet water: Amanzimtoti)
7 eSiphingo < isiphingo (at Isiphingo) (Name of the Luthuli Chief)
9 embokodweni < imbokodo (a place with a smooth round stone)
8-10 ezimbokodweni < izimbokodo (a place with smooth round stones)
11 othongathi < uthongathi (ulu-) (at UThongathi)
olwandle < ulwandle (ulu-) (at the sea)
14 ebusuku < ubusuku (at night)
ebusweni (on the face)
15 ekuseni (in the morning)
ekudleni (in the food)
Orthographic rules (adapted from IsiZulu Terminology and Orthography No.4
Capitalization of place names
This should follow definite orthographic rules, adapted from isiZulu Terminology
and Orthography No. 4 (1993). The locative prefix kwa- can indicate 'to, in, at,
from' the property, residence, firm, store, homestead, surname etc. Place names
beginning with the locative prefix kwa- or ka-:
KwaZulu in Zululand
KwaMashu at the place of Sir Marshall Campbell
KwaMakhutha at Makhutha location.
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
at the place of Gqwathaza (this is Zulu name for
at the Zungu residence
In the case of all the other place names, the first letter after the initial vowel will
be a capital. The first part suggests the noun whence the locative is derived and the
second part is the locative indicating in, at to, from e.g.:
iTheku> eThekwinL iGoli> eGolL uLundi> oNdini. uMlaza> eMlaza.
uLvvandle> oLwandle. uThongathi> oThongathi. iSikhala> eSikhaleni. uMthetho>
eMthetlnveni. aManzimtoti> eManzimtoti. uMuziwezinto> eMziniwezinto.
iZinqola> eZinqoleni. uMngeni> eMngeni. aMahlongwa> eMaHlon!,'Wa.
iSandlwana> eSandhvana. iGoli> eGoli, etc. For example. a speaker might say
Ngihlala eThekwini (1 live in Durban): Ngiya eMgungundlovu (I am going to
Pietermari tzburg).
In the official names of schools, post offices. etc .. the first letter of the word is
also capitalised, e.g.: UMngeni. AManzimtotL ITheku, EThekwini. UMlazi.
ONdini. UThongathL UMuziwezinto, EZinqoleni. AManzimtoti. ISiphingo.
ONgoye. ULundL UMlaza, UThongathi, UMkhomazi etc.
There are many examples where the etymology of the place name is obscure or
totally lost. The following examples are cited.
Toponymic lapses caused by incorrect pronunciation
Ndwedwe instead ofSondoda
There is a high ridge in the MaQadini area near Inanda which is now known as
Ndwedwe. where the present Ndwedwe police station is situated. The original name
of this ridge was Sondoda (father of men), but because the foreigners could not
pronounce Sondoda, they simply named the ridge Ndwedwe not even keeping the
vowel sounds of the original. This name soon appeared on signposts and in all
government records and compelled the people to use the strange and meaningless
In former times. Africans were very ready to accept things which were non­
African. They did not mind if a name had no significance for them as long as it was
non-Zulu or non-African. Proof of this will be found in the names of elderly people
today. which are mostly of European origin. Pupils used to report their
schoolfellows for calling them by their home names (igama lasekhaya) on the school
premises and the culprits were often punished. Consider the names of elderly
African people throughout Africa which are of European origin. It is only now that
people are realising the importance of their African names and taking pride in
calling themselves by such names. Below is a discussion of a few examples of place
names, most of which are found in the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. They have
been wrongly written, but for years people did not mind using them as they were. It
did not matter to them because they were written by people whom they regarded as
being more enlightened than they.
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
EZingolweni or Ezinqoleni
This place is inland from Port Shepstone, to the west. It was the home of the Cele
clan and was originally known as KwaCele, a place belonging to Chief Cele or a
place occupied by the Cele clan. Later, white people arrived in this area and
constructed a railway station. It was a terminus, and many railway carriages and
trucks coaches were parked there. When the Cele people saw these, they named the
place Ezinqoleni - the place of many wagons or coaches. Because the cartographers,
or \vhite people generally, failed to pronounce the -nq- 'click' sound in EZinqoleni,
they adapted the place name to Ezingolweni, which has no significance or meaning
to a Zulu speaker, whereas EZinqoleni records the history of the area .
. \/Boginnvini or Ezimbokodweni
Ezimbokodweni is the name of a river, and a town on the upper South Coast. The
place name UMbogintwini, is lexically meaningless to a Zulu-speaking person as
compared to EZimbokodweni. Ezimbokodweni means a place where many small
round stones used for grinding corn and mealies, are obtained. Even an uninformed
person would locate the river because of the great number of smooth, round stones
found in it.
The average non-mother-tongue speaker of Zulu could not easily pronounce the
place name Ezimbokodweni: so the name UMbogintwini came into being. To such
speakers the lenis voiced velar -k- in EZimbokodweni sounded very much like
a -g-. UMbogintwini is easier to pronounce than EZimbokodweni. It must be noted
that Zulu has four variants of the phoneme -k-.
(i) [k'] e.g. EZimbokodweni [ezimbokodweni]
(ii) [k] e.g. EZimbokodweni [ezimbokodweni]
(ii) [kh] e.g. Ezimbokodweni [ezimbokhodweni]
(iv) [g] e.g. EZimbogodweni [ezimbogodweni] and
(v) [t'] instead of [d], hence EZimbokotwini or Mbogintwini instead of
The Status of the !k/ in Ezimbokodweni:
The first [k'] is ejected and is the one which is incorporated in EZimbokodweni.The
second one is a radical [k] where a speaker is influenced by a neighbouring
language or dialect. For instance, the first [k'] features prominently in the speech of
people living on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal and in the Eastern Cape. The
ejection becomes more prominent as one enters the Eastern Cape Province. For
instance, President Mandela's [k'] is stronger than King Zwelithini's. The l ~ t t e r
would pronounce Ezimbokodweni as Ezimbokhodweni. This is caused by linguistic
proximity. Zulu land is closer to Swaziland, where Ezimbokodweni might be
pronounced as eZimbokhodweni. The third [kh] normally occurs in the speech of
the SiSwati speaking community, where a [k'] which occurs in nasal compounds
Ink'] is pronounced as [nkh].
To a non-Zulu speaker, all these variants of -k- are perceived as a voiced velar
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
LjHkomaas or Umkhomazi
UMkomaas should be written UMkhomazi. The name of this river and town
originates from the cold sea breeze experienced by people living near the mouth of
the UMkomazi river. The name refers to amakhaza, a cold breeze. There has also
been the suggestion that there is an association with umkhomakazi, a whale cow.
Whichever derivation is correct, the place should certainly not be called Umkomaas.
which to a Zulu-speaking person is meaningless.
CH/aas River or Umlaza River
To a Zulu speaker, Umlaas, which is the name of a river near Lamontville township
and the Durban International Airport, is regrettably meaningless. The correct name,
on the other hand, contains some history of the Zulu nation. It is said that during
King Shaka' s military expeditions to the South coast of what is now K waZulu­
Natal, he felt thirsty and longed for a river where he could get water to quench his
thirst. He then saw this river and hurried to it eagerly. On drinking the water, the
king remarked 'Hhawu! kanti akumanzi namanzi yokhu, umlaza (umyaza) nje'.
(' Ah! This is no water at all, it is as bad as whey'). From that day onwards, the river
was known as UMlaza. Later on, people replaced the final -a of UMlaza with an -i ,
hence UMlazi. This was a linguistic problem caused by pronunciation. The last
syllable of a Zulu word is always pronounced with low tone. Thus, to a non-Zulu
speaker, the -za of UMlaza might sound like -zi. (The parenthesis in the words
quoted above recognises the fact that King Shaka spoke a Yeyeza dialect where -1- is
pronounced as -y-.)
Amanzimtoti or Amanzimtoti
The origin of this place name has been discussed in a number of documents, and so
will not be included in this article. It is, however, recommended that the name
should be written according to the most recent (1993) orthographic rules. with both
A and M capitalised.
Umzinto or Umuziwezinto
During the post-Shakan period two clans who did not see eye to eye resided in the
UMzini wezinto!UMzinto area. These clans were constantly fighting, and they were,
unfortunately, also subordinates of one chief. They fought over a proposal that they
should amalgamate and fall under one chieftainship. In the area was a prominent
inyanga (traditional doctor) who used to strengthen the regiments with traditional
medicines cal1ed 'izintelezi' before they went into battle. Both clans consulted the
same man but they were not aware that they were treated by one and the same
inyanga who was playing a double game.
Elderly people noticed what he was doing, and remarked that the homestead of
this man was no good at all. It is said that his home was situated on a hilltop and
was surrounded by a forest. They used to say that 'umqhathi omkhulu ile nyanga,
iyishaya emuva iyishaye phambili'. (,The great cause of fighting is this inyanga. He
runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds. ')
There was an old woman who used to warn people by saying 'Ubobheka umuzi
osegqumeni, umuzi wezinto'. CLook at that homestead on the hilltop. It's a
homestead with weird things'). It is said that he used to make his izintelezi with the
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
male parts of young boys. Hence it was common for boys to vanish after being sent
to this inyanga or when they had been herding cattle near his homestead. They were
sometimes found dead, with their private parts removed. The inyanga' s muthi was
for strengthening the regiments, but the notoriety of this homestead spread like
wildfire and people from far and near knew of 'Umuzi wezinto', hence,
Through failure to pronounce this somewhat long name, to a non-Zulu
cartographer the name ended up being UMzinto. There are however a few
possibilities for this. Jenkins et aI, (1996:29) advise that 'names should be user
friendly. easily pronounced and remembered'. But there is also a sociolinguistic
factor. Words are sometimes clipped when they happen to be long. The
cartographers retained the first part umuzi- of the compound word umuziwezinto,
and only included -nto from the second part.
ISipingo or ISiphingo or KwaSiphingo
It is said that during the Shakan period, the Luthuli people hid themselves in the
forests where we now have Durban's Bluff area, also known as ISibubulungu. They
\\"ere hiding away from King Shaka who suspected that there were amankengane
(foreigners) who resided in this area. The Luthuli people lived on wild fruit and
were afraid of giving themselves up to King Shaka who was then residing at
K waKhangela amankengane. The name of the Luthuli chief was Siphingo, hence
the place name iSiphingo. Usually, when a place is named after a person, we prefix
kwa-. hence KwaSiphingo. A neighbouring place occupied by the Cele clan is called
K \vaMakhutha. a name derived from the Cele leader. So, why not call the place
K waSiphingo in order to mark the history and existence of the Luthuli people in the
Bluff area? It would be linguistically more correct and consistent.
l'mtentweni or EA1tetweni or Emthethweni
A Zulu word for law is umthetho. A place close to Port Shepstone is called
Umtentweni. This place name is meaningless to a speaker whose home language is
Zulu. The correct name means a place of the law or where laws are effected. To
follow current orthographic rules, the spelling of this name should be Emthethweni,
not EMtetweni. This is an old orthography where aspirated Zulu sounds did not
exist in written script. Jenkins et a1. (1996:42) confirm this statement when they
Orthographic reforms in the case of the Nguni languages mainly affected two
aspects: the writing of aspiration and word division. In earlier publications on
Xhosa and Zulu, aspiration of stops was not indicated and many constituent
morphemes were written separately. The present orthographies recognise aspiration
and prescribe conjunctive word division.
LVqamana or lnkamana
Another strange place name. though outside the scope of this study, is Inqamana.
There is a school in the Vryheid area known as INkamana High School. It is named
after a neighbouring mountain shaped like an inqama (ram). The cartographers or
non-Zulu-speakers who could not pronounce the click sound -q- came up with
iNkamana which is meaningless to a Zulu person.
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
There are many other Zulu place names whose etymolof,'Y is similarly obscured
or totally lost A few more examples, with the correct spelling and pronunciation in
the first column, are:
uThongathi Tongaat
uThukela Tugela
Umkhuze Mkuze
Embangweni Empangeni
Oumeleng (1991: 14-15) states that
Names belong to our cultural heritage and should be preserved along with other
monuments and belong to the environment without which interaction would be
much more difficult. . .. Names have a social value. If one removes the names
or changes them for new ones, society loses its spatial frame of reference, and is
Place names are mirrors of the society. Algeo (1988: 173) expresses his
disappointment with some Australian name:; which lack originality:
One of the regrettable features of Australian place names is the lack of
originality and imagination. Many of these read like a catalogue of London
suburbs, English provincial towns and U.S. cut-offs. They represent a source of
dullness across the Australian maps.
The dullness condemned by Algeo was originally not a feature of Zulu place
names although nowadays some of them have a dullness brought about by
toponymicallapses. Many Zulu names which were not tampered with have meaning
relating to features of places.
Jenkins et a1.( 1996: 12) mention that:
All over the world, as one people or political hegemony supplants another, so
old names are replaced by new ones. Place names are politically good indicators
of the successive governments and ideologies of a country.
Successive place names have been rubbed out and replaced as indigenes,
explorers, and settlers recorded their languages. Sometimes the Zulu version of a
name 'vas preserved by the white travellers and settlers, but in most cases they
changed or ignored them in order to record their own existence.
lenkins et aI, justifiably endorse this practice by stating that:
It is only natural that when people come to power they should seek to right old
\vrongs by changing place names as has happened all over the world. not least
in Europe after the collapse of communism.
This happened with a number of original Zulu place names, leading to parallel
names ',vhich are sometimes caused by resistance to change. lenkins et al (1996: 17)
mention that 'the natural conservatism of ordinary people merges imperceptibly
with truculence. In the naming practices of people, we see how deeply names are
embedded in their culture'.
J'oponymic lapses in Zulu place names
Parallel names
According to South Africa's policy of muitilingualism, people have a right to insist
on the varieties they use in their daily conversations. Thus we find Zulu speakers
maintaining their own Zulu place names, even though newer English or Afrikaans
names have emerged. Below is a discussion of some parallel names in K waZulu­
Natal. particularly those around the greater Durban area and on the South Coast.
The reason for focusing on the South Coast area is that place names from here have
been sorely neglected in the history of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.
f.7'l7eh1.'ini or Durban
The place name EThekwini originates from a Zulu word itheku, which means a man
or beast with one testicle, or a lagoon, enclosed bay, harbour (refer to Doke &
Vilakazi 1972:789). It is said that it was King Shaka who gave the name itheku to
the Durban bay, being quick to observe that the bay was shaped like itheku of a
man. Indeed, people looked at the shape of the lagoon or enclosed bay and saw that
it resembled a single male testicle, and also called it itheku. When the English
settled there, they first called it Port Natal and later named it after Sir Benjamin
The Zulu place name ongmates from KwaKhangela amankengane (view the
foreigners in the sea), a name given by King Shaka. To 'khange1a' means to look at
behold. vie\v, (Doke & Vilakazi 1972:379). KwaKhangela applied to King Shaka's
outpost on Durban Bay \vhich is now known as 'Ccngella'. To a Zulu person
Congella has no significance. King Edward Hospital is the closest place to King
Shaka's kraal in this area and is also known as KwaKhangela by most Zulu
speakers. KwaKhangela (Congella) is the place name, whereas King Edward is the
name of an institution situated at or near the place. Many Zulu people refer to the
hospital by the name of the place. E.g. Umkami usebenza esibhedlela KwaKhangela
(My wife works at King Edward Hospital); Ingane ilaliswe KwaKhangela (The
child was admitted to King Edward Hospital).
EThusini and the University ofNatal
Further up hill from K waKhangela was a trading centre where copper was bartered
for local material. This place was known as EThusini - a place where ithusi (copper)
and brass articles were sold. When the University of Natal was built in this area,
new names emerged (Howard College, University of Natal, and the suburb
Glenmore). The use of these newer names however, depended on the population
group preponderating in the locality concerned. The University of Natal used to be a
predominantly white university but this is changing. Some of its students and
lecturers now tend to use both names interchangeably. It is not only the African
people and students who strive to preserve the former name, but non-Zulu-speaking
people are also interested in knowing and preserving the history of the area, and
proud to say 'Ngifundisa eThusini' Cl lecture at eThusini/the University of NataL
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
River and Palmiet River
The University of Durban-Westville began on Salisbury Island, in Durban Bay. Its
present hilly inland location is known to many Zulu-speakers as UMphongokazL
meaning a huge barrel. This name is derived from the river in this area. The
cartographers gave this river a completely new name, the Palmiet. The name
UMphongokazi was virtually erased because of the migration and labour laws. The
inhabitants who occupied it before 1963 were transferred to new townships like
KwaMashu and UMlazi. It was only this year when I gave a lift to an old lady, Mrs
Ntimabane, and went via the University of Durban-Westville, that I learnt of
UMphongokazi, although I have been at Durban-Westville for the past 16 years. As
we crossed the PalmietJMphongokazi River she remarked that they used to do their
washing at the UMphongokazi River, and even pointed out a place where her father
used to work in the quarries. She also showed me the place where her home had
been, saying 'Sasiwasha lapha eMphongokazL ubaba esebenza kule nkwali. Ekhaya
kwakuyilaphaya' eWe used to do the laundry here in the UmphongogazL my father
worked in that quarry. Our home used to be there').
Other parallel names found in KwaZulu-Natal are Umtshezi and Estcourt,
Umnambithi and Ladysmith, Emangwaneni and Bergville, Entunjambili and
Kranskop, Umsinga and Tugela Ferry, Income and Blood River, KwaDukuza and
Stanger*, Kledeni and Buxedeni. (*The town of Stanger, named after a colonial
surveyor-general, has recently been officially renamed KwaDukuza Editor.)
The Africanisation of foreign names is very common.
Esayidi, Port-Shepstone
When the South Coast railway was built, the English-speakers referred to the
'siding' which they would call Port Shepstone, after Sir Theophilus Shepstone.
People Africanised this word siding into the place name ESayidi. Mr Nhlumayo, an
inspector of schools who lives at Gamalakhe, a few kilometres south of this area,
gave another version of the origin of this name. He says that although the English
people referred to the place as a 'siding', the Afrikaans-speaking community
referred to it as Suid Port, hence Esayidi.
Emvungeni or Uvongo
Mr Nhlumayo also supplied information about another obscure place name - the
place between Port Shepstone and Margate known as Uvongo. He said Uvongo is
meaningless to the inhabitants of the area. Its real name is Emvungeni, meaning at
a place where there is buzzing or humming of bees. According to Doke and Vilakazi
(1972:844), imvunge means 'a low murmuring sound, humming'. Mr Nhlumayo
says the name comes from the large swarms of bees that were once found in the
Ebhambayi, Bombay, Phoenix Settlement
The Phoenix Settlement near Inanda is commonly known as EBhambayi by the
African community. Originally this area was allocated to the Indian community and
it is well known that M.K. Gandhi lived there. The name of the Indian city of
Toponymic lapses in Zulu place names
Bombay (itself an Anglicisation - it was officially changed to Mumbai in the early
1980s) became attached to the place, and was in turn Africanised to Ebhambayi.
Zulu speakers found a Zulu word closest in pronunciation to Bombay - bhamba
means to strike with a heavy object.
r.Tadini. Harding
The Southern Natal town, named after colonial Chief Justice Sir WaIter Harding. is
pronounced by most Zulu-Xhosa speakers as EYadini. It is very common for
illiterate Zulu-Xhosa speakers to replace -h- or -hh- with -y- (Zungu. 1989:81) The
phoneme -h- is replaced either by -rh-. -y- or -kh-. Refer. for example. to amahewu
(a drink made of skinned maize porridge fermented). which is pronounced
amarhc·wu. or ihembe (a shirt. from the Afrikaans 'hemp') which becomes iyembe.
or hamba (walk) which is pronounced khamba by most Zulu-Xhosa speakers.
The Place Names Society is deeply concerned about incorrect renderings.
misspelling or erroneous forms. A Place Names Conference held in Pretoria in 1994
agreed that each ethnic or language group should set up a committee which would
look into its language problems, and affiliate under the Place Names Society, and
the Society would try to see that all errors were rectified. It is hoped that a concerted
effort will be made to remedy a number of these lapses in place names in KwaZulu­
Natal. It is clear that very many Zulu place names are linked with the history. flora.
fauna and occupations of the areas concerned, and thus reveal something of the
culture of the people who speak Zulu.
A.lgeo. J.. The Au.slralianness o(Auslralwn Place Names, (New York. l\merican Names Society, 1988)
Doke. \tc. and Vilakazi. B.W .. Dictionary (Johannesburg. University of the Witwatersrand
Press. 1972)
.knkins. E.R. Raper. PE. and Moller. L.A .. Changmg Place Names (Durban. Indicator Press. 1996)
'\yembe. \\'.C.M. 'Toponymica\ Variation in Zulu School Names', (MA University of Durban-Westville,
1994) Unpublished dissertation.
Oumeling. F.L 'The importance of names'. Paper delivered at a training course in toponomy. Pretoria. 1991.
Lungu. P.J. 'Some aspects ofUkuhlonipha in Zulu society' in Language Matters. Department of Linguistics.
University of South Africa, 1997.
Zungu. PJ.. 'Nhlangwini. A Tekela-Nguni dialect and its relationship to "Standard Zulu" and other Nguni
dialects' (\1.4 . ., University of Natal. Pietennaritzburg, 1989) Unpublished dissertation.
The pioneer Natal
settler house
Our chief source of knowledge of the 19th century house in Natal must undoubtedly
be the writings of Brian Kearney.l although others, like Marilyn Martin,2 have
touched upon certain aspects of its history. As it stands, though, it still lacks the
definitive. comprehensive study which I believe is its due.
The main motivation for this article, in addition to making a modest
contribution towards the above-mentioned study, is the realization that little seems
to have been published on the early history of the Natal house: nothing comparable.
for example. to the relevant chapters in Ronald Lewcock's well-known work on the
early settler houses of the Eastern Cape.
This lack was forcibly drawn to my
attention recently when, in the process of supervising a dissertation on the domestic
work ofWilliam Street-Wilson,4 it became very difficult to establish accurately what
the possible local colonial antecedents of his work were prior to his arrival in
Durban from England in 1887.
The focus of this study, then, will be the period 1850 to 1880, that is the first
thirty years after the beginning of large-scale white immigration into the new
colony. It will study both product, in this case distinct house types, and process, the
evolution of these house forms. Emphasis will be on the typical rather than the
unique. on the vernacular rather than the architect -designed building, although
there was in any case probably very little of this during the period being dealt with.
The underlying hypothesis will be that at any given period the great majority of
popular housing of a particular region can be reduced to relatively few common
Before' proceeding to the typology, a couple of generalizations. Firstly. with
regard to the palette of materials available, it should be noted that this was probably
greater than is generally realized. Very early buildings, prior to 1860, in the towns
were in wattle and daub or sod, or inland, even shale
and there are also a couple of
references to felt-covered houses. Sun-dried brick was seen as a step up the ladder at
the top of which was proper burnt brick or dressed stone, depending on the area.
great number of houses in Durban, and possibly elsewhere, were wood framed and
wood clad, until 1872 when this method of building were forbidden by the by-laws.
Prefabricated iron houses were imported from about 1850 but despite the attention
they have received
seem to have been a small minority. Locally-made wood and
iron houses can be traced back to at least 1861 in Durban. 10
Nalaba 28, (1998), Dennis Radford pp. 34-44
lhe pioneer Natal settler house
The second point pertains to the detached kitchen, or 'cookhouse' as it was often
called, i.e. a small structure separate from the dwelling itself. This was almost
universal during the period being studied and, it seems, dates from the earliest years
of settlement. George Russell mentions it in early Durban
and many other
contemporary accounts confirm its use.
The 'kitchen' could be of the slightest
form and construction but again, like the dwelling itself, there is evidence of a
process of upgrading during the pioneer phase until it matched the house in form
and structure (see cover picture). Obviously this type of kitchen was not confined to
any particular house configuration nor was it found only in the rural situation,
although there is some evidence that it had become 'semi-detached' in Durban by
about 1880.13 This probably holds true for Pietermaritzburg as well.
Note should also be taken of the typical pioneering process. On the settlers'
arrival on the usual piece of virgin land, a tent was pitched, although some lived in
\vagons or even, in one case. under an awning slung from four poles.
A grass hut
or t\\'o erected by the local indigenous popUlation, suitably modified, was the next
~ These could remain in use for as much as a couple of years and be
succeeded by a wattle and daub or unburnt brick house.
The final product (for this
period) would be a larger brick or stone house with wooden floors, ceilings. etc.
That this process was typical has, however. been questioned by at least onc authority
on the parallel Australian pioneering experience.
Probably the most prevalent early house type was that with the three-room
core,li:< This consisted of three rooms in a line of uniform width, 12ft to 14ft (3.6 to
4.2 metres) being the norm, while it could be as narrow as lOft (3 metres) or as wide
as 18ft (5.4 metres). The roof superstructure was the determining factor here,
consisting of closely spaced (600mm) coupled rafters, these being the simplest
elements capable of spanning the space, The roof was steep (45°), double-pitched
and on the coast at least, almost always hipped. Simplicity was also the hallmark of
the plan. with a central, slightly larger, living room flanked by two bedrooms.
Outside entrance was into the central room and thence into the bedrooms. A
fireplace could quite easily be placed on the centre-line of the main room, though
this was generally for heating not cooking. Associated with this type was a
verandah, usually about 2 metres wide, running round the house. Climatic and
constructional reasons have been advanced for this, the need to both shade and
shelter the generally fragile walls coalescing. The roofs of both the verandah and
house were of thatch.
Although not quite the minimal dwelling, the popularity and longevity (it lasted
well into the 1880s) of the three-room house lay in its ability to expand' its
accommodation very simply and therefore very cheaply. This was done by enclosing
parts of the verandah to form extra rooms, albeit small ones. This could, of course,
be done at the outset or later as the need arose. Nevertheless a certain pattern can be
discerned. The first stage was the enclosure of the two ends of the front verandah to
form small rooms which were usually entered from this space. Two similar rooms
could also be added on to the back and, depending on the width of the house, either
be joined or have a small residual piece of the verandah between them. One of the
earliest examples of the former seems to have been in existence in Durban by 1845
The pioneer Natal settler house
(Fig. I ). Even this residual verandah space could be enclosed, thus producing a total
of six rooms. A nine-room house would have been considered a fairly substantial
dwelling in early Natal.
Fig. 1: Sketch ofCloete's Cottage, Durban, c. 1845.
Artist unknown (L.H.M. Durban)
Another known variant was to enclose the end verandah spaces, thus producing
fi ve rooms in a line.
There are numerous references to this house type in
contemporary newspaper
advertisements. In the
revised edition of 1873, Dr.
Mann' s The Emigrant's
Guide to the Colony of
Vatal, makes specific
reference to the verandah
room house
and in
describing two such model
houses (Figs 2A, 2B) in
great detail, including their
materials and cost implies
'j..i ··-W---:W
that these should be the
norm towards which new
immigrants should aspire.
The houses built by the
Natal Land and
Colonization Co. at their
new coffee works at the
Umgeni Village in Durban
in late 1871 would seem to
provide further proof that Fig.2: Axonometric projections and plans of model
the three-room house was dwellings from Dr Mann' s 'The Emigrants guide to the
widespread. In looking at
Colony ofNatal' (The author)
Ihe pioneer Natal settler house
the original plans
it is obvious that a hierarchy is present which ranged from the
simple three-room house of the engineer (Fig.3A) with its internal kitchen, through
the labourer's house (Fig.3B) with the kitchen and pantry attached as a wing to the
back verandah, up to the manager's house (Fig.3C) which not only had a
. core' and a complete suite of verandah rooms but also a kitchen wing. This latter
almost certainly represents a good middle-class house of the period. All the houses
had corrugated iron roofs and facebrick walls. the Umgeni Brickfields being just a
few hundred metres away. These buildings were probably designed by the surveyor.
Edmund Tatham
. who signed the drawings. Nevertheless their vernacular roots
are plainly visible. C
A: Plan of engineer's house. B: Plan oflabourer's house.
C: Plan of manager's house. Natal Coffee Works Umgeni Village
(Architectural Library, University of Natal, Durban)
There was yet another variant of the three-room house, with verandahs only at
the front and back, not extending right round the building. Usually such a house
would also have side gables. The engineer's house (Fig.3A) is this variant in
miniature. Normally, however, in this variant the major rooms were bigger and the
walls higher than in the previous example, thus allowing a deeper verandah at the
front and back. this in turn meaning that all or parts of the back verandah could be
enclosed to form what is effectively a two-room-deep plan. Dick King's farmhouse
at Isipingo was of this form
and the original core of Briar Ghyll (c.1863) on the
northern townlands of Pietermaritzburg seems to have been very similar. As with
the first variant it appears to have continued as a favoured rural house type well into
the 1880s.
Though compact, cheap and capable of expansion and a certain amount of
"dressing up' ( i.e. the addition of fashionable elements such as bay windows), the
three-room house did present a problem which grew as the century progressed: it
lacked privacy. 24 Entry was directly into the living room and in the most extensive
plans outer rooms were only reached through inner bedrooms .or somewhat
inconveniently via the open verandah. This is almost certainly \\'hy it did not
commend itself to architects, who, with their predominently English training, would
have sought to provide their clients with the requisite privacy, and certainly to order
the internal spaces in a hierarchy of public and private, master and service rooms. 25
The pioneer Natal settler house
I have not been able to find any such house type planned de novo from the hands of
an architect from about 1880 on.
Smaller in size was the two-room cottage. Such a building (Fig.4) was
widespread in the British colonies in the early 19th century26 and Lewcock identifies
it early on in the Eastern Cape, that is about 1820
. It is interesting to note that
such a building seems to be implied in the rules for the initial settlement of D' Urban
in I~ U 5 . This house. which was the basic structure required to be built to secure
,.... I 2. ,3 t
~ ~
Fig. 4: Axonometric and plan of an Eastem Cape settler cottage
(The author after Lewcock)
possession of a town lot, was to be on 'European' lines, and had to be at least 24ft x
10ft (7.2 x 3 metres) and at least 8ft (2.4 metres) high. Although its plan is not
stated. such a structure is too short for three rooms and too long for just one. In any
case it is probably modelled on somewhat earlier precedent derived from the Eastern
Cape. such as at Artificers' Square, Grahamstown where the minimum dimensions
were given as 30ft x 15ft x 8ft (9 x 4.5x 2.4 metres) .28 In 1856 the new by-Iaws
Pietennaritzburg prescribed a minimum dwelling which was to consist of two
rooms. each not less than lOft (3 metres) square. The house was to be at least 9ft
(2.7 metres) high and was not to be constructed of the following materials; grass.
sticks. reeds. poles, matting, wattle and daub, or clay. Evidently, basic as these
requirements may seem to be, they were not passed without protest from two
councillors who thought that they would drive some of the poorer people out of the
As a form of ' core' house the two-room cottage seems to have had a long life in
both the villages and farms of Victorian Natal. One example, dating from around
1880. still exists in Harding and yet another from this period is the kernel of the
farmhouse on the farm 'Norfolk' in the Biggarsberg.
If the evidence from Pietermaritzburg can be relied upon,31 the first major
change to the cottage, for that is what it was, seems to have taken place in the early
1860s. Here a second range was added to the back of the building thus doubling the
number of rooms. These seem to have been the same depth as those in the front. To
accomplish this, three different roof forms were used; the first (Fig.5) was simply to
duplicate the front roof to form an M-shape. This made sense with a heavy roof
material like clay tiles but provided a potential waterproofing problem in the valley
Ihe pioneer Natal settler house
gutter. A few examples still exist in
Maritzburg. A second and simpler way
(Fig.6) was to put the back range under
\ > - C ~
. / "\,
a lean-to which was covered with
sheets of corrugated iron. then coming
into common use. This was probably
the 1110st usual form. A third way
(Fig.7) was to place a double-pitched
roof over both ranges. This obviously
required a more complex roof
structure. something approaching a
truss. However. if a covering of iron
sheeting \-vas used and the 'truss '
propped off the inner spine wall, a
suitably lightweight supporting system
could be contrived. The prohibition on
thatch or even its repair in both cities
(Durban and Pietermaritzburg) from
Fig. 5: Axonometric and plan of cottage
with M-shaped roof, 6 Princess Street,
Pietermaritzburg (The author)
the early 1860s must have accelerated this particular change. It is not suggested here
that most cottages had the back range added afterwards, as many were built that way
initially. Front verandahs were Ubiquitous from very early on and back verandahs
are often mentioned in house advertisements of the 1870s even on relatively small
houses. The four-room compact house, i.e. that without a passage, remained the
mainstay of the small urban, suburban and even rural working -class house well into
the 1890s. It is even found in the pages of catalogues advertising prefabricated wood
and iron buildings as late as 1910.
.... .,.:
Fig. 6: Axonometric and plan showing
lean-to roof across rear 270 Boom Street,
(The author)
Fig. 7: Axonometric and plan showing
double pitched roof over both rooms,
18 Shepstone Lane, Pietermaritzburg
(The author)
The next major change, which probably happened in the early 1880s and thus is
not that important to us here, was the addition on to the back of the house of a
The pioneer Natal settler house
small, embryonic 'Natal Back' .33 This.
put briefly, is a deep verandah flanked
on one side by a kitchen and on the other
a pantry and in some cases a bathroom
(Fig.8). Because of its utilitarian and
basic nature the compact cottage was
often the basis for later (c. l890-l900)
architect-designed minimal houses.
The final house type to be considered
here is the central passage house.
especially in its four-room format. Such
a house was symmetrical, with a passage
which on larger houses could be as wide
as 6ft (1.8 metres), running from front to
back. This provided an entrance hall. a
circulation space and possibly a
Fig. 8: Axonometric sketch illustrating a
breezeway. through the house. This
'Natal back' (The author)
would undoubtedly be considered a villa
plan. especially as the passage provided privacy to all the rooms. Such a house is
described in 1852 in Durban
and through advertisements and existing examples it
seems to have become fairly widespread by the late 1850s and early 1860s. The first
example shown here, no. 136 Longmarket Street, Pietermaritzburg (Fig.9) is well
known and will serve to illustrate a variant which was quite common in the city. but
of which I have failed to find the
equivalent in Durban. This is the l Y2­
storey villa. the I;S storey because the
additional accommodation. a couple of
bedrooms, was completely within the
roof volume. lit by dormer windows and
reached by a form of step-ladder rather
than a full set of stairs. The upper floor
seems to have evolved principally to use
the space generated by both the depth of
the house and the steep minimum pitch
(25°) needed to use flat clay tiles
successfully. It is possible that this and
other such buildings were designed by
surveyors such as John Moreland who in
fact had his own house near no.136 and
which was described in a contemporary
as having entry hall,
breakfast dining and best bedroom on
Fig. 9: Axonometric and plan of 136
the ground floor with secondary
Longmarket Street, Pietennaritzburg.
bedrooms in the upper floor.
c. 1855 (The author)
The plan of these houses seems to
The pioneer Natal settler house
have been restricted to about 7.5 metres (25ft) in depth with the consequence that
the front rooms, the two principal ones, were often made about 15ft (5 metres) in
depth and the back two lOft (3 metres). The strong Georgian character of these
buildings is clear and possibly because of this their popularity seems to have tapered
off by the 1870s when a more romantic taste began to make itself felt .
The single-storeyed villa has a different history and although initially not very
common it is clearly the antecedent of what I suppose most historians would
consider to be the most characteristic 19th century Natal house type: the verandah
As well as the central passage and
four-room plan, these early verandah
houses also had a pyramidal or hipped
roof with symmetrically placed chimneys
(where there were any) and the wide
enveloping verandah, this usually under
Cl flattened pitch. The example shown,
(Fig.10) no. 14 Bell Street, Howick,
reputedly dates from the late 1850s and a
very similar building once existed in
Longmarket Street next to the
Legislative Council Buildings. A
description of 1862
of the farmhouse at
Allendale (sic) near Pietermaritzburg
describes what seems to have been
another such building. It consisted of 7
rooms, 4 being large, and also had a 6ft
(1.8 metre) passage running through it Fig. 10: Axonometric and plan of 14 Bell
with a 40ft (12 metre) square loft above
Street Howick. c. 1860
(the author)
and a verandah all round. It was of brick
with a tiled roof.
The farmhouse at Greenwood Park near Durban (Fig. 1 I ) which was probably
built about 1866 shows yet another early example. A final example is that of House
North at Northdene which Kearney dates to 1861.
This house is also interesting in
that it had three rooms down one side, two on the other and a detached kitchen at
the back.
The verandah house had become a clearly defined type by the 1860s and the role
played by the early architect-surveyors in general and RS. Upton in particular in the
development of this has still to be deciphered. We know that Upton designed several
villas on the Berea and elsewhere in the 1870s and probably some even earlier. 38
The full double storey house has not been mentioned so far. The reasons for this
are quite simple: it was very rare in the towns and virtually unknown in the country
prior to 1870. Even in its late Victorian heyday it probably did not constitute more
than ten per cent of the houses in central Pietermaritzburg.
A good example of an early (1863) double storey house is that which constitutes
the front part of Macrorie House in Loop Street, Pietermaritzburg. In 1867 it was
The pioneer Natal settler house
Fig. 11 : View of Greenwood Park house in 1876.
(K.P. McIntosh, 'Some Old Natal Families' )
described as ' the finest and best house in the city.' At the time, it comprised seven
rooms plus kitchen and pantry. 40
The semi-detached house was known in Pietermaritzburg as early as 1857 and
probably came into existence in Durban about then. The plans of these early ones
(Fig. 12) do not really differ much from those of the freestanding houses. There were
more elaborate, some double storeyed v
ones but these, as far as is known,41 are J .!
all post -1880 and mostly architect
designed. Again in central
Pietermaritzburg it is estimated that
they constituted not more than four per
cent of the domestic building stock in
1904. - 1 ~ The terrace house although not
' l ~ - '
unknown in the two cities was very
rare,43 not appearing until very late in
the century. A possible further house
type is that of an H-shape. Here a large,
central room gave access to at least two
rooms on either side. How widespread
this plan was, though, has yet to be
So far the three major house types
have been presented somewhat
hermetically. The utility of this must be
obvious when considering each as a
more or less independent conceptual
Fig. 12: Axonometrics and plans of
model, that is to say, the largely
166/8 and 401/3 Boom Stteet,
unconscious, culturally-conditioned
Pietermaritzburg. (The author)
The pioneer Natal settler house
agreement among people as to what constitutes an appropriate house form. These
are the configurations (plans), a form of mental template. Of course there were
strong cross influences. References can be found to verandah rooms on what \vere
obviously cottages and these were certainly also to be found on verandah houses
(villas). It is also apparent that the central passage moved down into the cottage at
least in part as early as the 1860s. Thus overall a fairly rich strain of hybridization is
apparenL especially later in the century, this being possibly as a result of the
increasing involvement of architects even at the lower levels of domestic
As to origins, that of the cottage has been alluded to, while the verandah house
(villa) is I believe now well accepted as yet another colonial house type whose
antecedents are still somewhat problematic;44 but it clearly evolved outside NataL
the Indian bungalow being most often cited as its prototype. The three-room house
remains a little obscure, in plan similar to that of small pioneer Boer d\vellings
described as being typical of the Orange Free State (by Anthony Trollope in the mid
). However, that is all they appear to have in common. For example. the
front and back verandahs are conspicuously absent from Boer houses until late in
the century. It is certainly British in its espousal of the 'Cottage Ornee', the self­
consciously picturesque dwelling inspired by English rural buildings. Perhaps this is
Natal's most original contribution to what Brian Kearney has called the 'Bundu
Style'. ~ 6 With its dominant roof and 'open' configuration it was essentially a non­
urban house type, and in addition it conforms to Professor Kearney' s last criterion
in that it has 'disappeared so effectively'. He was of course referring to the fact that
being composed mainly of fragile organic materials, buildings in the Bundu Style
had, in the normal course of events, a short life, leaving little trace of themselves.
While accepting this observation. it should be noted that, with few exceptions, the
pioneer houses were intended to be expendable.
1. These are conveniently available in a collection entitled 'Thinking in Shadow' submitted by Brian
Keamey for the degree of Doctor of Architecture at the University of NataL 1992.
2. M. Martin, ·P.M. Dudgeon. his work in South Africa' (M.i\rch .• University of the Witwatersrand,
1980). unpublished dissertation.
3. RE. Lewcock. Early Nineteenth Century Architecture at the Cape (Cape Town, 1963). See Chapters
eight and nine.
4. 1. Castle. 'The Domestic Work ofW. Street-Wilson' (M.Arch., University of Natal, 1996), unpublished
5. This is in some way dealt with by Keamey in his Architecture in Natal 1824-1893 (Cape Town, 1973.)
6. There are numerous contemporary references to these materials. See G. Russell The History of Old
Durban (Durban, 1899) p.91; and S.O'Byme-Spencer, British Settlers in Natal (Pietennaritzburg,
1992) voL6, p.63.
7. Natal Colonial Government, Emigration to Natal (London, 1863) p.56
8. By-Law No. 69, Natal Government Gazette 19 Nov. 1878.
9. See G. Herbert. Pioneers ofPrefabrication (Baltimore, 1978) chapter three in particular.
10. Advertisement in The N ata I Mercury, 10 October 1861.
11. Russell, Old Durban p.99.
12. Killie Campbell Africana Collections, Letters of1. Ecroyd, 1850-1853, p.57.
13. W. Kennode, Natal, a Fieldfor Emigration (London, 1882) p.lOO.
14. Spencer, British Settlers in Natal, vo1.6, p.36.
15. R. Gordol1, Dear Louisa.(Pietennaritzburg, 1970), p.21.
The pioneer Natal settler house
16. This process is described by Jane A..rbutlmot (c.1850) in C Coulson's BeauLIeu.-on-/llovo. Richmond
(Riciul1ond. 1986), p.42.
17. [\'1. Lewis. /'IClanan Pnmilive (Melbourne, 1977), p.67.
18. Professor Kearney maintains that the simplest early type was the 'single row of rooms' plan of which the
original house at Cato Manor was a good example (Personal conununication with the author). These
often had verandahs.
19. House Binns, shown on pl04 in Kearney'sArchitecture in Natal, is ofthis form.
20. R1. Mann, The Emigrant's GUide to the Colony of Natal (London, 1873), pI83-5. These are not
described in the 1859 edition ofthe work.
21. In the drawing collection at the Architecture Library. Cniversity of NataL Durban. No. OD 120.
22. Tatham was also a diredor of the Natal Land and Colonization Company.
23. t:ndated sketch found at the Durban Local History Museum
24 R Kerr, The Gentleman 's House (London, 1871. reprint 1972), p.67.
25. 1\1. Girouard. The vktonan Countly House, (New Haven, 1979), p.28.
26. 1. Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses (Auckland, 1986), chapter titled 'Planning and Form'.
27. Early Nineteenth Century Architecture, p.191
28. R & B. Reynolds, Grahamstown.Jrom Cottage la Villa. (Cape Town, 1974), p.39.
29. Natal Government Gazette, 1 January 1856.
30. Quoted in Meineke and Sununers, One Hundred Years ofEngineering, (Pietermaritzburg, ND) p.93.
31. D. Radford, TheAlaritzburg Cottage 1850-1910 (Durban, 1997).
32. Killie Campbell Africana Collections, RV. Marsh, rYood and Iron BUildings, (Pietennaritzburg n.d.
c.191O) Design No. 119.
33. This tenn was coined by Proiessor Kearney. The feature does seem to have a Natal origin but was not
confined to Natal in the late 19th century.
34 E.W. Feilden.lllfy Afncan Home (London, 1887), p.12.
35 The ;'VataIJHercury, July 1860.
36. The i'iata! Witness, April 1862.
37. Kearney, Architecture in Natal, pp. 133, 134.
38. Provisional list of his work derived from The Natal Mercury,
39. Radford, The lvfaritzburg Cottage. p.26.
40. Advertisement in The Natal Mercu ry, 6 July1863.
41. From a brief survey of the historic drawings collection in the A.rchitecture Library. l'niversity of Natal.
42. Radtord, The A4antzburg Cotfage. p.5.
43. The detailed area maps of Durban in 1893 show at most about a dozen.
44. B Kearney, 'Verandas', in BUilding. February 1989. Also D. Radford. 'A West Indian Origin for the
Verandah House'. The South Afhcan Journal afCultural and Art History, vol.l. no.2, June 1987
45. A Trollope, South Africa (London, 1878), p.396.
46. B Kearney, 'Picturesque Architecture in Southern Africa', Lantern. Vol. XXV. No. September 1976.
Barracks and hostels
A heritage conservation case
for worker housing in Natal
South Africa in its present period of transformation is exploring a more inclusive
definition of cultural heritage. and the physical forms of it. In 1992 an article in
:Valalia 2i acknowledged that the designation of historic monuments had in the
past reflected a dominance of white cultures, and proposed a form of affirmative
action to make monuments more representative of the racial groups and cultural
diversity in South African society. It suggested that communities wishing to see sites
relevant to their own culture protected could apply. provided they undertook the
necessary research and documentation. and that future surveys of the urban building
stock would examine all areas, not just those in formerly white group areas.
Part of the cultural heritage of the Asian and African communities in South
Africa is the housing, in both urban and rural areas, built for the Asian immigrant
workers and African wage labourers. Some physical record remains, although
guides to Durban architecture make little or no reference to them.
In Europe and
North America the everyday lives of ordinary working people have long been
recognized as an important and legitimate area for historical research, and legal
protection and conservation resources have been given to representative types of
worker housing.
Among the former British colonies, however, the slaves and
labourers are often still the 'invisible men', in the words of a leading historian of
slavery. Michae1 Craton.
A vital element in the colonial economic system was the housing which
accommodated millions of slaves, indentured labourers and other workers - people
who were almost exclusively non-white. This accommodation was usually intended
for temporary sojourners (and therefore much of it shoddily built) and for single-sex
rather than family occupation, and it recognised no social bonds other than the work
relationship. Ties of family, tribe, caste or region were subsumed in the greater
cause of industrial capitalism, and only in the twentieth century did doctrines of
indirect rule lead to the segregation of workers by race and tribe.
The barrack and the hostel in the British Empire
From the colonies' need for labour grew the barrack, for over fifty years (from the
1860s to the 1930s) the commonest type of worker housing in the empire. The
:"iatalia 28. (1998), Robert Home pp. 45-52
Barracks and hostels
colonial barrack was typically a long single-storey structure, internally arranged as a
single or double row of standard-sized rooms, each about I Ox 12 feet. Materials were
often sawn timber on a cast iron frame, but subsequently more permanent materials
of fire- and vermin-resistant stone and brick were preferred, with a corrugated zinc
or iron roof. The floor was either earth (mixed with dung), or raised planking. A
cooking area was provided at the front, and a Dutch barn door gave entry. The
buildings were usually locked up at night to prevent escape, and often the only
ventilation was from shuttered openings at high level under the roof. A single
communicating veranda or corridor ran the length of the building. Washing and
toilet facilities, where these existed at all, were communal and usually in a separate
The barrack as a specialized building form emerged in the 19th century. and its
intellectual origins lie with Utilitarianism and the rise of Britain as an industrial
nation and world power. It was one of the 'professional buildings' of which Olsen
has written:
After Waterloo there appeared one after another new types of building designed
from the outset for a specialized function ... Prior to that period, most urban
buildings were amateur, adaptable for a variety of purposes.
With the gro"\\1h of new mass armies from the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the
scale and design of barracks developed rapidly, deploying new industrialized
building technologies and materials, such as machine-sawn timber, mass-produced
\\'ire-cut nails. and cast-iron framing. A major evolution in barrack design occurred
in the mid-nineteenth century, when the high death rates from disease experienced
by the British Army during the Crimean War and in India became part of a wider
public discourse on public health and overcrowding. New barrack designs followed,
and within a few years these were being used all over the British Empire to house
and control large groups of young men in relative social isolation.
Barracks were particularly suited for accommodating the indentured and migrant
labourers who were transported after the abolition of slavery. particularly from India
and China. to meet the labour needs of the Caribbean and other plantation
economies. Between 1845 and 1917 (when moral outrage brought an end to this
'ne\\' kind of slavery' 7) India supplied the following numbers of labourers:
Mauritius 453 100
Malaya 250 000 (estimated)
Guyana 238900
Natal 152200
Trinidad 143 900
Fiji 61 000
Jamaica 36400
Surinam 34300
After the abolition of indentured labour in 1917, companies involved in sugar,
mining, oil and other primary produce used a modem version of barrack design for
accommodating their workers, and the improvement trusts of port cities like
Bombay and Calcutta built multi-storey barrack blocks or chawls.
Barracks and hostels
Workers began to reject barrack living conditions increasingly through the
labour disturbances that spread all over the empire from the 1930s. The West Indies
became a testing ground for new approaches to worker housing, especially after the
Trinidad riots of 1937. The Forster and Moyne Commissions investigating the
workers' grievances were particularly shocked at barracks that were 'indescribable
in their lack of elementary needs of decency', and recommended that family life be
encouraged by the building of more semi-detached cottages with gardens, for family
In advocating family houses instead of barracks the Colonial
Development & Welfare Programme was influenced by the British garden cities and
ne", town movement.
If the West Indies in the 1930s were a testing ground for colonial development
and welfare policies, South Africa was, over a longer period of time, also important
for testing methods of managing African and Asian workers. Barrack or hostel
accommodation was to become one of the symbols of urban apartheid. As the
Durban Housing Survey defined them,
Compounds may be divided into two main types. namely barracks and hostels.
The term 'barrack' covers accommodation owned and provided rent-free by
employers such as (a) industrial and commercial concerns: (b) proprietors of
hotels, boarding houses and nursing homes, and landlords of flats providing
services for residents, and (c) Government, provincial and municipal
departments.... The term 'hostel', on the other hand, refers exclusively to
municipal-owned premises which accommodate Native workers of all kinds,
including employees of some concerns whose own barracks are already full. In
some cases the rent is paid by the residents, in others by their employers.
After numerous commissions and committees, a policy of replacing in-town
barracks by out -of-town 'locations' consisting mostly of family housing was
adopted. This became associated with the doctrine of apartheid and Group Areas
Act resettlement in the post-war period.
Barracks and hostels in Natal
Natal has a particular importance in the history of worker housing, both in South
Africa and the wider British Empire, because it combined the Shepstonian system of
indirect rule with an expanding plantation economy based upon indentured labour.
and a strategic geographic position on the sea routes between Africa and Asia. I 0 The
so-called 'Durban system', which became a 'model for urban control throughout
British East Central and South Africa' 11, depended upon a municipal monopoly of
beer-halls, representing one of 'a nexus of institutions including labor compounds,
townships and rural reserves within which Africans were in some senses
incarcerated'. The origins of the Durban system lay in the togt or day-labour system,
introduced by Shepstone in 1874, under which togt labourers paid a registration fee
for their own policing and accommodation. The Native Revenue Account was kept
separate from the other finances of the Council, and the absence of subsidy meant
that the African workers paid for their own housing provision from the income
raised from beer sales, but were denied a share in the rising prosperity of the city. It
is hardly surprising that there were insufficient funds to provide or maintain
Barracks and hostels
satisfactory accommodation,
with the result that the
barracks were frequently
condemned as insanitary.
In the year 1878, even as
the imperial forces were
preparing to break Zulu
military power. the first togt
RAILWAY STATIOIII barracks (for two hundred
workers) was built by the
Durban Corporation. newly
empowered to provide for the
overnight accommodation of
'non-resident Natives'. 12
This Somtseu Road
location was to
accommodate 18 000
workers by 1923, including
visiting traditional chiefs
from time to time. The
L -
building of the togt barracks
also coincided in time with
Layout of Bamnannville
the introduction of barracks
for the reception of Indian indentured labourers, and a plan of 1876 shows the
'coolie barrack' alongside the togt labour reception offices. 13 From the Point (with
its infamous 'Bamboo Square', later demolished as insanitary in response to a
plague epidemic), the newly-arrived workers were moved to the Magazine Barracks
at Depot Road. These barracks were completed in 1880 (to house 26 married and 67
single men), and in 1912, with the end of the importing of indentured labour, were
transferred from the provincial administration to the city council. Condemned by
successive experts and committees as overcrowded and insanitary (starting with the
Wragg Report in 1887), the Magazine Barracks by 1933 contained a total of 1 251
rooms in a variety of wood-and-iron, concrete block and double-storey brick
buildings. accommodating over 5000 people at densities of four to a room. In 1943,
during the Second World War, numbers had risen to 6 000, including 2 500
children, of whom 700 were not attending school. Such barracks later became
models for the hostels for African the term 'hostels' appears in the
African (Urban Areas) Act of 1923, which empowered local authorities to build
locations for their African workers. 14
Alongside the Magazine barracks, family housing was built at Baumannville in
1916. Named after the then chairman of the municipal Native Affairs Committee,
the settlement is 'significant in the history of the urbanization of Africans in
Durban, for it shows that the city fathers had accepted the facts that Africans were
becoming permanent town-dwellers, that they were entitled to have their families
living with them in town, and that the city was responsible for their proper
Barracks and hostels
I s
The Durban Housing Survey in 1952 recorded barracks. hostels and
family housing under the category 'sub-economic letting' , a total of 3 195 houses
and 13 202 beds being either occupied or under construction.
Neither the Magazine Barracks nor Baumannville still exist. After the 1948
Broome Commission report into the ' legitimate needs and grievances of the African
population in the city of Durban', and with central Durban declared white under the
1957 Group Areas Act, they were demolished, and their inhabitants moved out to
African and Indian peripheral townships such as K waMashu and Chatsworth. Other
barracks and hostels, however, built at a later period have survived, notably the
Dalton Road hostel, the SJ. Smith hostel and stevedore barracks at The Point. With
so much lost these remaining buildings are all the more important as a physical
record of this aspect of South Africa's troubled history .1 6
Elevation and plan of the Dalton Rd barracks, Durban.
(From the collection of Professor Brian Kearney)
In Natal's rural areas, particularly on the sugar estates, probably more early
worker housing has survived than in Durban. The commissions of inquiry into
conditions of the Indian immigrants in 1872 and 1887 criticised the estate barracks,
then relatively new constructions. The 1872 Commission found that:
The barracks are disliked by their occupants, and metal roofs are found
unsuitable to their habits, from not permitting the escape of s m o k e ~ all seemed
to agree that houses of their own construction were preferable. 17
The 1887 commission was particularly critical of the siting, sanitary conditions
and overcrowding:
On estates there has been much disregard of sanitary teaching in the erection of
huts and lines . . . There is a general huddling together of the sexes, of all ages,
much to be deplored. 18
Over a century later many of these barracks, usually solidly built of stone and
brick. are still in use, although often altered and improved. In the Umzinto area, for
example, once notorious for bad treatment of estate workers,19 brick-built barracks
at Esperanza have been converted and improved into decent family accommodation.
Beside the entrance to the Oribi Gorge from the Fairacres Estate are the ruins of
Barracks and hostels
Improved barracks at Esperanza, near Urnzinto
(Source: the author, August 1997)
what is surely another barrack block, stone-built, with its roof gone, but the high­
level window openings still in place. There are presumably many other examples
from different periods, some perhaps still surviving as originally built.
Early African and Asian worker housing in Durban and Natal has been relatively
little researched, but has an important place in South African history and in the
cultural heritage of its communities. Many of the physical structures have gone,
particularly in Durban, demolished under slum clearance and Group Areas Act
measures. What remains deserves to be acknowledged, researched and recorded
through photographs, measured ·drawings and floor-plans, even if physical
preservation may not be practical. Statutory protection of the most important
examples is merited, although practical difficulties exist: resources to investigate,
record and conserve are limited, and, where the accommodation is still occupied,
preservation could conflict with overdue upgrading. The subject offers rich scope for
Ruins of barracks near Oribi Gorge
(Source: the author, August 1997)
Barracks and hasteIs
academic research, and indeed the possibility of a Worker Housing History project.
\Vith the present government priority toward housing upgrading and construction,
there is all the more reason to develop an understanding of the impact of past
policies, through an informed knowledge of the surviving physical record where
Acknow led gements
The field work for this article was undertaken in Natal in August 1997, under an
academic link funded by the British Council (South Africa), and with the co­
operation of the Department of Surveying & Mapping of the University of Natal and
the Department of Geography of the University of Durban-Westville. It is based
upon a seminar given by the author in the latter department in September 1997. The
author particularly wishes to thank the following for their help and interest: Allan
Brimicombe. Brian Kearney. Brij Maharaj, Emmanuel Mutale, Rooksana Omar and
Dhiru Soni.
1. A.HaIL 'National Monuments: A new focus in Natal', Natalia 22, 1992, pp.55-64
2. D.R.Bennett, S.Adams and R.Brusse, A gUide to the History & Architecture ofDurban, (Durban City
Council, 1987); B.Kearney, A Revised Listing of the Important Places and BUildings in Durban
(Durban, 1984).
3. See. for example, M.J.Daunton, House and Home in the Victorian City: Working Class HOUSing
1850-1914 (London, Arnold,1983), and (ed.) Housing the Workers: A Comparative History 1850­
1914 (Leicester University Press, 1990); C.G.Pooley, (ed.) Housing Strategies in Europe. 1880-1930
(Leicester University Press, 1992)
4. M.Craton. Searching for the Invisible Man (Itbaca, New York, 1978), p.vii. His research was based
upon the records ofthe Worthy Park sugar plantation in Jamaica.
5. R.K.Home, 'Barrack camps for unwanted people: a neglected planning tradition', Planning History, 15,
1993. pp. 14-2 L and OfPlanting and Planning: The making ofthe British colonial city (Spon, London,
1997), chapter 4.
6. D.J.Olsen, 'Victorian London: specialization, segregation and privacy', Victorian Studies, 17, 1974,
pp.265-78. See also T.A.Markus, Building and Power: Freedom and Control in the Origin ofModern
Building Types (Routledge, London, 1993)
7. The phrase comes from H. Tinker, A New System ofSlavery: The Export ofIndian Labour Overseas
18301920. (Oxford University Press, 1974). See also K.Saunders (ed.) Indentured Labour in the
British Empire 1834-1920 (London, Croom Helm, 1984) and P.C.Campbell, Chinese Coolie
ErmgratlOn to Countries within the British Empire (London, Frank Cass, 1971 reprint, 1st edition
8. R.K.Home. 'Transferring British planning law to the colonies: The Case ofthe 1938 Trinidad Town and
Regional Plamling Ordinance', Third World Planning ReView, 15 (4), 1993, pp. 397-410. See also H.
Jo}mson, 'The West lndies and the conversion of the British official cla<;ses to the development idea',
Journal o{Commonwealth and Comparative POlitiCS, 15, 1977, pp.55-83.
9. Durban Housing Survey: A Study ofHousing In a Multi-racial Community (Natal Regional Survey,
Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press 1952), p. 315. See also D.M.Calderwood, Native Housing
In South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 1953); J.Rex, 'The compound, the
reserve and the urban location', South African Labour Bulletin, 1(4), 1974, ppA-17; J.B. Robinson, 'A
Perfect System of Control?': State Power and Native Locations in South Africa, Society and Space, 8,
1990. pp.135-62; J.Wasserfall, 'Early mine and railway housing in South Africa' (PhD, University of
Cambridge, 1990).
10. For background, see B.Guest and J.M.Sellers (eds.) Enterprise and Exploitation in a Victorian colony:
Aspects of the Economic and Social History of Colonial Natal (University of Natal Press,
Pietermaritzburg, 1985), and Receded Tides ofEmpire: Aspects ofthe Economic and Social History of
Natal and Zululand since 1910, (University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, 1994). For indentured
Barracks and hostels
labour in particular, see G.C.Helming, The Indentured Indwn In Natal (/860-19]7) (Promilla, New
Delhi, 1993), and S.Bhana Indentured Indwn EmIgrants to Natal 1860--1902 (Promilla, New Delhi,
1991 )
11. lntroduction to J.Crush and C.Ambler (eds.), LIquor and labor in Southern Africa (Ohio University
Press, Athens & University of Natal Press, Pieterrnaritzburg, 1992), p.19. See also M.W.Swanson,
, "The Durban System": Roots of Urban Apartheid in Colonial Natal', in Ajhcan Studies 35, 1976,
pp. 159-76
12. For the togt system, see K.E.Atkins, 'The Moon IS Dead
Give Us Our Money I • The cultural OrIginS o(
an AfrIcan work ethic, Natal. South Afhca. 1843-1900 (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Heinemann.
13. Bhana Collection at the Documentation Centre, University of Durban-\\-'estville, file reference 957/679­
14. R.H.Omar. 'The Relationship between the Durban Corporation and the Magazine BalTacks' (RA
(History) dissertation, University of Durban Westville 1989). The Wragg Commission Report of the
Indwn ImmIgrants Commission (Government Printer, Pieterrnaritzburg, 1887) criticises the Durban
Depot in chapter XIV. See also Durban Housing Survey.
15. Baumannville: A Study of an Urban African Community (Natal Regional Survey Report No.6, Cape
Town, Oxford University Press, 1959), p.!.
16. RMaharaj, 'The Group Areas Act in Durban: Central-Local State Relations' (Ph.D. thesis, University of
Durban Westville, 1992); P.Maylam & I.Edwards (eds.) The People's City: African L{(e in Twentieth­
CentUl}, Durban (University of Natal Press, Pieterrnaritzburg, 1996): y'S.Meer and M.D.Mlaba,
Apartheid - Our Picture (Institute for Black Research, Durban, 1982).
17. Report o(the Coolie CommISSIOn appointed to inquire into the condition ofthe Indian Immigrants in
the Colony ofNatal (Legislative Council, Pieterrnaritzburg, 1872), p.6.
18. Wragg Commission, chapter XA.."X.
19. The Wragg Commission, chapter V, was particularly critical of conditions on the Esqueefa estate, and
the Reynolds Estate at Esperanza was the subject of a government inquiry in 1906 (see Bhana
Collection, file reference 957/2001-2082).
An environmental manifesto
for the greater
Pietermaritzburg area
Developed by the Greater Pietermaritzburg
Environmental Coalition
The Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) proposal to mine a portion of the Eastern Shores
of Lake St Lucia marked a turning point in public awareness of the impact of
development on the environment in South Africa. Prior to this. a few development
proposals had prompted some debate, some had even been the subject of
environmental impact assessments, but none had stimulated such widespread public
interest. This seems curious in a country where the 'Great Outdoors' is a key
marketing resource and commonly considered to contribute much to a South African
ethos. Even stranger is the level of environmental degradation that seems acceptable
in the name of development. Ironically, the sometimes acrimonious debate over the
mining proposal followed the release into the public domain of an environmental
impact study commissioned by RBM. As bitter as the debate occasionally was, we
should welcome such public involvement. It is good that people recognise they have
a right to hold and express opinions on particular issues; such pressure influences
decision-makers and forces critical evaluation of development projects. We get the
environment we deserve.
The RBM mining proposal had secondary benefits. First, it brought unfamiliar
terms such as . environmental impact assessment' , 'integrated environmental
management' and 'interested and affected parties' firmly into common language,
even if many had a limited understanding of their exact meaning. The consultative
process implicit in these terms is empowering. Secondly, the final environmental
impact assessmene, completed more than three years after the process started, thrust
upon the broader public a holistic understanding of the concept of environment. The
public should no longer view 'environment' as referring to the natural world only:
the Environment Conservation Act (No. 73 of 1989) defines environment as 'the
aggregate of surrounding objects, conditions and influences that influence the life
and habits of man or any other organism or collection of organisms'. Such
/v'ataiw 28, (1998), Dai Herbert and Gavin Whitelaw pp. 53-63
54 An environmental manifestofor the greater Pietermaritzburg area
influences may have 'biophysical, social, economic, historicaL cultural and political
aspects':; Thus. for example, the REM assessment dealt with land claim issues
alongside components of the natural environment. The same understanding of
emironment guided the manifesto drafted by the Greater Pietermaritzburg
Environmental Coalition.
In Pietermaritzburg, well known for its colonial architecture, the cultural and
historical environment has benefited from the sensitive and appropriate re­
utilisation of older structures. Such re-use allows for the appropriation of historic
space by modern communities, and thus its conservation: Tembaletu Community
Centre provides an excellent example. as do Victorian and Edwardian buildings
occupied by professional firms. Not all is good in the city. however, Some
developers display a general disregard for the planning application process and for
building regulations, resulting in the loss of important buildings (see, for example.
7he Vatal 'YVitness 7 September 1998). Others simply fail to appreciate the
significance of the historic landscape. For many years the Oxenhams building on
the corner of Burger Street and Commercial Road constituted an important part of
the streetscape and provided residents with a powerful sense of place. With the
coming of McDonalds, Pietermaritzburg was treated to the bizarre spectacle of the
National Monuments Council and KwaZulu Monuments Council (KMC) at
loggerheads over the future of the site. The KMC tried to stimulate a public call to
save the building, but the effort failed, sinking in a widespread public apathy for
environmental issues. It is a tasteless irony that the world's oldest McDonalds is
nmv eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in the United
States. In it employees celebrate the restaurant chain's heritage by wearing 1950s
period dress and serving food from the original menu. Built in 1953, this 'historic
place' is considerably younger than Oxenhams was
. Ironic too, is that
Pietennaritzburg has acquired yet another colonial structure, this time a symbol of the
modern economic power of the United States. We get the environment we deserve.
Democracy in South Africa has seen great efforts to raise the standard of living
of disadvantaged communities, This has resulted in a development imperative,
which is now placing enormous pressure on the environment and which threatens to
cause irreparable damage unless negative impacts can be mitigated as much as
possible. Prior to the restructuring of local government in 1995, environmental
issues of relevance to Pietermaritzburg were referred by the municipal
administration to the City Council's Environmental Committee. This committee
was an advisory committee and had no plenary powers, the limits of its ability being
to make recommendations to the various municipal departments and standing
committees. It was composed of representatives from a range of civic organisations and
environmental interest groups as well as organisations with an involvement or expertise
in the environmental sector, together with representation from the City Council.
Although effective in some respects, the Environmental Committee was
frequently sidelined, and its members frustrated by their evident ineffectiveness.
Things came to a head in mid-1993 when the committee was presented with a
number offails acomplis. One of us (D. H.) questioned the value and efficacy of the
committee, suggesting that some form of re-evaluation was needed.
An environmental manifesto jor the greater Pietermaritzburg area 55
The built enviromnent, like the natural environment, is a source of tension
between the demands of development and those of preservation. Legislation now
prevents summary demolitions. (Pi cture: The Natal Witness)
At this time it was also evident that existing local government structures had a
limited life-expectancy and that the government and administration of the city was
likely to undergo dramatic changes at all levels. Councillor Haswell (Environmental
Committee chairman) observed that there was little point in the committee
restructuring itself under the existing regime. Instead, he suggested, the energies of
committee members would be better utilised in trying to raise the profile of
environmental issues during the local government restructuring process, such that
adequate environmental provisions be made in the new structures. Consequently,
concerned members of the environment committee met to discuss possible options
for the future, with a view to opening the debate to the broader community.
Further discussions among concerned environmentalists took place in September
1993, focusing on the shifting political balance in the light of the local government
negotiations and how best to place environmental issues firml y on the agenda of
new structures. A series of meetings culminated in a public meeting on 11 October
1993 at the Natal Museum, where a range of organisations and individuals
concerned with different aspects of the environment committed themselves to
forming a short-term coalition. This became the Greater Pietermaritzburg
Environmental Coalition (GPEC). Two priorities were identified:­
1. the need for information regarding local government processes.
2. the need to choose effective strategies to advance environmental concerns.
A steering committee for GPEC was nominated at the meeting
and this group
met a number of times to plan subsequent workshops. The first of these, held at the
end of October, at Tembaletu Community Centre, focused on information sharing
56 An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area
and included input from outside experts. Another took place on 18 November to
determine strategies. As a result, three working groups were formed to take the
following identified tasks forward:
• develop an Environmental Manifesto
• select an environmental candidate for the new Transitional Local Council
• lobby the selection committee for environmental representation on the new
Transitional Local Council.
In this article we consider only the Environmental Manifesto as this represents a
tangible entity reflective of the efforts of GPEC at this time. We believe also that it
is a valuable document which embodies principles that remain pertinent to local
environmental issues.
Unfortunately, the coalition's attempts to have an environmental candidate
elected to the Transitional Local Council failed and this latter body has not
subsequently seen fit to establish a new environmental advisory or watchdog
structure to replace the now defunct Environmental Committee (although there are
currently moves to establish a Local Agenda 21 Committee following the 1992
Environmental Summit in Rio de Janeiro). The new local government structure has
thus not formally adopted the GPEC Environmental Manifesto, and there is
consequently a risk that this valuable document will disappear into obscurity in the
filing cabinets of municipal officialdom. For this reason we feel it is importal1l that
the document be published, as a historical record both of the activities of
the GPEC and of the environmental issues considered to be of importance b.v
concerned environmentalists of this time.
The manifesto was drawn up during the course of a series of workshops co­
ordinated by GPEC committee members Mark Butler and Anne Harley in the last
two months of 1993 and the first quarter of 1994. The document was accepted in
principle by the then still extant Environmental Committee and was presented to the
Local Government Negotiating Forum in April 1994. To our knowledge, this was
the first document of this nature produced by civil society in South Africa. It is a
draft manifesto in the sense that it is a statement tabled by environmentalists, and
has not yet been discussed with other interest groups.
We are grateful to Mrs V. Ward who typed the Manifesto for this publication.
l. CSIR Environmental Services, 1993, Environmental Impact A.ssessment, Eastem Shores of Lake St Lucia
(KingsalTojan Lease Area). Volume 3. Environmental Impact Report.
2. Department of Environment Affairs, 1992. Glossary of terms used In Integrated EnVIronmental
Management. p4.
3. See: http://w\vw.downeyca.orgl!mcdon.htm
4. The cOlnmittee members were Mark Butler (Earthlife Africa), Andrew Hall (National Monuments
Council), Anne Harley (Earthlife Africa), Dai Herbert (Natal Museum), Muna Lakhani (Eco­
shop/Professional Services) and Gavin Whitelaw (Natal Museum).
An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area 57
Draft Environmental Manifesto
for Greater Pietermaritzburg
Introduction to the manifesto
i) The Manifesto is aimed at guiding future local government policy and
development practice in the greater Pieterrnaritzburg area, with the goal of
sustainable development and maximum environmental quality.
ii) This is an environmentalists' statement of principles that we believe are vital
for the future of the city. It must be understood that this does not imply a 'take
it or leave it' attitude for those who may not accept it in toto - all of us
anticipate that we will need to lobby and negotiate with a wide range of
interest groups.
iii) The underlying approach has been to keep the impliCIt definition of
'environment' as wide as possible in order to ensure that the Coalition would
continue to hold together. While this has meant that some have wondered
about the 'environmental' nature of some of the issues included, there is no
doubt that the approach has yielded a remarkably rich and comprehensive
iv) The statements relating to health were included only after discussion with
members of the Health Committee of the Local Government Negotiating
Forum who felt that, since no parallel process was likely from the health sector
in the immediate future, it was best to include a section in our Manifesto.
v) There are no examples nor suggested strategies to achieve the principles being
stated. We felt that the inclusion of strategies was:
a) neither appropriate nor feasible in a concise statement of principles, and:
b) a effective way to limit the scope of the stated principle.
Rather, the Manifesto focuses on the principles that we believe should guide
the search for solutions in an environmentally sound and sustainable direction.
This Environmental Manifesto outlines the basic principles which should guide
local government policy and development practice in the greater Pietermaritzburg
area, with the goal of sustainable development and maximum environmental
quality. These principles reflect a commitment to social and economic equality and
justice, gender sensitivity, environmental sustainability, and a development
approach which first and foremost addresses the interests of the poor and the
marginalised, and of future generations and, in so doing, releases the full potential
of our city. The Manifesto argues that policy makers should take into account the
impact of economic growth on the environment, and on the distribution of resources
and opportunities, in planning future development.
In pursuing these goals, the following rights and principles will be enjoyed by all
the people of Pietermaritzburg and guaranteed and enforced by local government.
• the right to know (i.e. free access to information):
58 An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area
• the right to be informed (Le. a duty on the part of authorities and developers to
alert the public and affected parties of potential environmental impacts);
• the 'precautionary principle' (i.e. as long as the health and environmental
impacts of an existing or proposed development, process or pollutant are
unknown or uncertain, these will be considered to be dangerous. The onus and
the cost of proving no danger to health and environment will rest with the party
producing or using, or proposing to produce or use, such developments,
processes and pollutants):
• that environmental management shift from damage control to the prevention
• the principle of the 'polluter pays' (i.e. the cost of rehabilitation following
environmental degradation shall be borne by the party responsible for that
Impact and not by the public):
• that costing and auditing will include environmental costs:
• that provision of services will be costed so as to encourage the minimising of
environmental impact and to reward consumers who use less resources and
penalise heavy users:
• the principle of optimising meaningful and gainful employment opportunities.
The exercise and furtherance of these rights and principles is best served by local
government processes and institutions which are accountable to democratic
processes. These processes and institutions should allow for full, active and effective
participation by communities in decision-making, and mutual responsibility for
implementation of such decisions.
This should be supported by a strong institutional framework at metropolitan
level "vhich should have at least the following elements:
• an effective and independent environmental ombudsbody;
• a strong legislative framework;
• a requirement that all development will be subject to IEM principles and
procedures, and in particular will include effective participation by all affected
communities, groups and interest parties.
Land use
Inappropriate and uncontrolled land uses are a major cause of environmental
degradation and depletion of resources. In striving to maintain a healthy and
sustainable environment, and enhancing Pietermaritzburg' s unique and special
sense of place, the local authority should:
• adopt an environmentally sensitive, healthy, sustainable and functionally
integrated approach to land use planning and development:
• adopt a holistic and integrated approach to planning and development:
• incorporate Integrated Environmental Management procedures formally within
the metropolitan bylaws;
• promote environmental protection and stewardship as important values:
An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area 59
• promote the functional integration of "natural open spaces" and the greening of
the city:
• broaden the assessment criteria, procedures and techniques used in land use
planning to include environmental factors and sustainability considerations:
• ensure the provision of basic services and infrastructures:
• encourage the adoption of appropriate and affordable technology:
• ensure that the planning of all roads is subject to a full Environmental Impact
Assessment which includes public participation.
\Vhere appropriate. naturaL histoncal and cultural resources shall be developed
for the purposes of educational enrichment and the promotion of tourism.
\'alural environment
Aspects of afforestation. water management waste disposal and transport provision
have the potential to impact heavily on the natural environment and must be
planned and managed sensitively.
It is important to ensure that the diversity of life forms and biological processes
in greater Pietermaritzburg are protected. The protection of fauna and flora should
be regulated by management guidelines aimed at ensuring viable indigenous
populations and wise use of natural resources. The encroachment of alien invasive
plants and animals should be controlled utilising environmentally sensitive
Cultural and Historical Environment
• The authorities should strive to ensure respect, proper management and
protection of all sites of cultural and historical significance within greater
Pietermaritzburg. Effective representative structures should be established to
accomplish this.
• The identification and recording of sites of historical and cultural significance
should be encouraged in order to enhance community pride. Such sites should
reflect the diversity of historical and cultural interests of all communities within
the metropolitan area, as well as the diversity of the historical past.
• A range of incentives should be devised to encourage developers and property
owners to conserve our historical and cultural heritage.
• The restoration of sites of historical and cultural significance should be done in
such a way as to upgrade skills and promote job creation.
• Appropriate conservation areas should be established to promote and preserve
our heritage, and to enhance the character of the city and metropolitan area. This
would contribute to creating an acceptable living environment.
The replacement of indigenous vegetation and agricultural land in greater
Pietermaritzburg with a monoculture such as commercial afforestation is
unacceptable. Furthermore, the afforestation permit system must be reviewed. The
broader issues of sustainable development, paper provision, recycling and wood
processing plants also need to be addressed.
60 An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area
Afforestation has multiple biophysical and socioeconomic impacts, and in
planning afforestation projects it is imperative that IEM is adopted, and that the
following issues are included in the assessment:
• Biophysical: erosion potential, water quality and catchment management
pollution, vegetation and 11ora, use of invasive species, wildlife conservation, fire
protection and veld burning, use of herbicides and pesticides.
• Socio-economic: land use patterns, impacts on communities. housing and staff
matters, provision of infrastructure, visual impacts, waste, economic and
employment consideration.
Where forestry is deemed to be an appropriate land use, the 'Guidelines for the
application practices in productions forestry' edited by R. C. Bigalke shall be used
as the minimum management standard.
Waste policy
The primary goal shall be the avoidance of the creation of waste and a reduction in
its quantity and harmfulness, before any consideration of the re-use, re-cycling or
disposal thereof. The precautionary principle shall apply in any consideration of
possible impact of waste production, processing and disposal on people and the
Waste reduction
The principle of 'polluter pays' shall be accompanied by a strict waste prevention
programme which shall consider the further possibilities of the use of clean
technology and product substitution in achieving waste reduction. Those who
produce less waste should be rewarded through an incentive scheme.
Re-lIse and recycling
Re-use and recycling must be encouraged through legislation and education.
Recycling of industrial waste shall be strictly controlled and audited. The
precautionary principle shall apply.
Waste disposal
The management practices of incineration and land filling create new problems
themselves, and are not long term solutions. Landfill sites will only be established
after participatory, accountable and transparent consultation with all interested and
affected parties. Pietennaritzburg will aim for the elimination of hazardous waste
production, and the strict control of hazardous waste disposaL No hazardous waste
dumps or incinerators will be located in the greater Pietermaritzburg area, in order
to discourage toxic industries from locating in the city.
Air policy
Everyone has the right to clean air. Air pollution is a public health, aesthetic and
environmental issue, and since air is shared, polluting our air pollutes the air of
those around us. We must:
• reduce overall emissions and toxic materials and eradicate ozone depletants;
An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area 61
• be guided by the principle that assumes all emissions to be harmful and requires
polluters and potential polluters to prove otherwise;
• decrease vehicular traffic in the city centre;
• encourage only clean industries and aid existing industry to cut emissions, but
'the polluter pays' principle must apply to those who pollute;
• ensure that air quality is maintained within the working environment
• nurture and expand the city's 'green lung'.
There must be ongoing transparent monitoring of air quality.
Transport policy
Recognising that the majority of people in the Pietennaritzburg metropolitan area
do not have access to private vehicles: transport policy should favour
(i) public transport (buses, taxis, railways, trams) and
(ii) fuel free mobility (cycling, pedestrianisation) above the private car.
Transport policy should:
• ensure accountability so that people have control over what is provided:
• ensure comprehensive transport planning;
• provide funds for long-term planning;
• promote coordinated, accessible and af fordable public transport as a social
service satisfying a basic need in the Pietermaritzburg metropolitan area;
• promote road safety;
• ensure safe transport particularly for women and children (especially late at
night and on isolated routes);
• include planning that will identify transport options for greater Pietermaritzburg
that are sustainable and will minimise emissions pollution.
Water policy
All the people of greater Pietermaritzburg should have access to water which is
clean, close by, affordable and sufficient for drinking, cooking and cleaning. The
local authority should promote the sustainable use of water through:
• promoting efficient use of water and minimising wastage;
• promoting water conservation using a variety of creative approaches;
• using a participatory approach to planning for water needs of communities,
especially involving women who are traditionally the water managers;
• investigating aspects such as catchment and wetlands management and
afforestation, which impact on water supplies;
• preventing pollution and contamination of water, and acting against those who
pollute or contaminate;
• environmentally sensitive water provision.
An Environmental Impact Assessment must be carried out for any development
proposal that requires the canalisation of a stream or river, altering of a stream or
river course, or the modification of stream or river banks.
62 An environmental manifesto for the greater Pietermaritzburg area
Energy policy
All the people of greater Pietermaritzburg should have equal access to
electrification. The local authority should reduce its current dependence on energy
provided by fossil fuels which are non-renewable and contribute to global warming.
and instead encourage improved efficiency with respect to energy use and the
conversion to alternative. cleaner and sustainable forms of energy. The use of
nuclear energy should be discouraged vehemently. There will be no nuclear
installation within greater Pietermaritzburg. The use of human energy/labour
intensive production methods should be encouraged.
Worldng environment
Searing in mind the right of workers to a clean and safe working environment we
must strive to balance worker security and environmental protection by asserting
• the rights to know and be informed about health and environmental aspects of
the workplace and its environs shall be enjoyed by all interested and affected
• the precautionary principle shall apply where the possible health or
environmental impact of an enterprise is uncertain;
• employers shall be strictly liable for the impact of an enterprise on the
environment and the health of employees.
The introduction of environment-friendly alternative processes will be
encouraged provided that workers are fully and effectively consulted to minmise job
losses and maximise appropriate re-skilling and training.
Noise, shock and vibration
Noise pollution has a direct effect on stress levels and quality of life, and may have
an insidious effect on the psychological well-being of people and animals. The local
authority should:
• encourage the reduction of noise, shock and vibration to appropriate levels:
• ensure that noise, shock and vibration levels are acceptable in terms of
physiological and psychological effects:
• ensure protection from noise, shock and vibration, particularly for vulnerable
sectors of the community.
We should aim for 'health for all' t h r o u g h ~
• respecting the rights of all to a clean, safe and healthy environment;
• emphasising preventive rather than curative health-care, and moving away from
high-tech, capital intensive medicine which provides expensive services to a
small wealthy minority;
• providing publicly funded and supported basic health-care provision,
infrastructure development and training, and in particular:
An environmental manifesto jor the greater Pietermaritzburg area 63
• prioritising community-based, and community controlled, primary health-care
with a special emphasis on the health needs of vulnerable sectors of society:
• recognising and incorporating traditional and alternative health-carers and birth
• training and community health-workers who themselves can train others in
aspects of primary health-care, including the identification of health-related
environmental hazards.
lIlT ~ A I D S Policy
The role of HIVI AIDS as a major threat to the social, economic and environmental
well-being of all the people of South Africa needs to be recognised, and positive
steps made to halt its progress and mitigate against its impacts.
HIVIAIDS is driven by social and economic factors, which make some
individuals more vulnerable to infection. Development which
• improves health facilities;
• improves literacy and income;
• improves people's social and economic conditions:
• reduces dependence on practices such as migration and prostitution;
will reduce transmission of the disease and policies which take account of the
likely effects of the disease can reduce the impact.
Improvement of the social and economic status of women generally is a
prerequisite for increasing their ability to protect themselves and their children from
the epidemic.
Individuals from the following organisations and institutions participated in the
GPEC process:
Afrikaanse Sakekamer ; Association for Rural Advancement; Black Sash; Botanical
Society of Southern Africa; Built Environment Support Group; City Health
Division: City Parks & Recreation Department; City Residents & Ratepayers
Association: Combined Residents & Ratepayers Association; Concerned Citizens
Association; CROW; Deanery Lane; Earthlife Africa (Pietermaritzburg); EBSem.
SA; Echo; ECO-Shop; Environmental Justice Networking Forum; River Action
Campaign; Farmers' Support Group; Geography Department UN(P); Greater
Edendale Environmental Network; Hilton Furniture Restorers; Institute of
Architecture Heritage Committee; Institute of Natural Resources; Lawyers for
Human Rights; Leighton Street Action Group; Natal Bird Club; Natal Co-operative
Timber: Natal Museum; Natal Parks Board; Natal Provincial Museum Services;
National Monuments Council Natal Regional Office; P ACSA; Pietermaritzburg
Canoe Club; Pietermaritzburg Girl's High School; Pietermaritzburg Publicity
Association: Pietermaritzburg Ramblers Association; Pietermaritzburg Society;
Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce & Industries; P-MOSS; SCAR; South
African Archaeological Society (Natal Branch); South African Institute of Forestry;
Tembaletu Community Centre; Town Bush Valley Association; Umgeni Valley
Project; Umgeni Water; Urban Design Unit; Wildlife Society of Southern Africa.
John Mowbray Didcott (1931-1998)
John Didcott spent 23 years as a judge, first in the Natal Supreme Court and, since
1994, as a member of the Constitutional Court. He became a human rights legend
because of his strong support of justice and individual liberties.
During the worst years of apartheid his scathing attacks on the unjust policies of
the previous government were pored over with delight by opponents of those
policies. Chief Justice Ismail Mahomed recalls his 'sparkling moral courage' and
says Judge Didcott's instinctive abhorrence of injustice will ensure he is
remembered as one of the greatest figures of South African law.
John Mobray Didcott was born in Durban on 14 August 1931, and matriculated
in 1948 from Hilton College. He graduated from the University of Cape Town with
a B A degree in 1951 and an LI. B in 1953. But he was not merely a successful swot
he also flourished in student politics. In his first year he was elected to the Students'
Representative Council and served as its president from 1952 to 1954. He was also
vice-president of the National Union of South African Students in 1953 and 1954,
and its president for the next two years.
Durban attorney Graham Cox, a long-time friend, recalls those days with relish.
'He was a brilliant fellow, but in addition to being an incredible scholar, he was a
magnificent speaker - quite superb as a demagogue. When he, Zach de Beer and
Sharkey King (now judge-president-elect of the High Court in Cape Town) debated
the government's race policies, there would be standing room only in Jamieson
Hall. All three were strongly opposed to the official line, but also made it a principle
to disagree with each other on everything. '
After graduating, the young Didcott was admitted to the Bar in Cape Town, but
then joined the Cape Argus for a year as Supreme Court reporter. That experience
alerted him to the difficulties and challenges faced by journalists and the media, and
he was always an avid reader of newspapers, although often critical of their
From Cape Town he moved to Durban where he joined the Bar, but soon after
setting up chambers there he was tipped off that the security police intended
detaining him, and he skipped the country to Southern Rhodesia, where he spent
some months as a prosecutor until it was safe to return.
His time at the Durban Bar was, according to Cox, one success story after
another, and he was in great demand as a commercial lawyer. In 1975, at the
comparatively young age of 44, he was invited to take an appointment on the Bench.
The offer may have been flattering, but for someone with strong liberal principles it
involved careful thought. He had to balance the problem of administering apartheid
legislation with the possibility of making a difference on the Bench and somehow
helping to alleviate the impact of unjust laws.
Convinced of the useful contribution he could make, he accepted. However, his
decision and that of like-minded judges - was publicly challenged some years later
when Natal University law professor Raymond Wacks urged that all 'moral judges'
should resign. Judge Didcott had no time for this view. 'It might be a fine protest,'
he said, 'but it would soon dissipate, and the vacancies would be filled by people
who had no qualms about injustice. If we argue that moral judges should resign, we
can no longer pray when we go into court that we find a moral judge on the bench. '
His long record shows that he was often the answer to the prayers of those who
felt the legal system had deserted them - he did indeed make a difference. He began
rather tentatively, the year after his appointment, with the case of Durban detainee
Harold Nxasana, in which he wrung his hands about detention laws, but found he
could take no action in this case. Five years later he was more confident when he
had to consider the banning orders of sociologist Fatima Meer and her son-in-law,
convicted of attending a private dinner party. Using his devastating linguistic and
legal skills he demolished their restriction orders, declaring them void because of
their 'vagueness'. This judgement was overturned on appeal.
Then came his 1983 decision, with two other judges, in the case of Beauty
Duma, an unemployed woman found to have been idle and undesirable under the
Black (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act, and which led to the government scrapping
these sections. Under the law, idle and undesirable people could be jailed and made
to perform hard labour for a year, but the law was poorly drafted and Judge Didcott
tore it apart.
His legal contribution, however, went beyond human rights cases. His decision
in the case of Roffey, an estate agent who joined a rival company, laid the standards
for a restraint of trade by changing the onus of proof - a decision seen by some as
one of the most significant changes in civil law for many years. He was also
responsible for a decision which sought to bring clarity and justice to the question of
pro deo representation for indigent accused persons in non-capital cases. Once
again his passionate arguments for justice were overturned by the Appeal Court.
Counsel often found him less than easy in court. His intolerance of shoddy work
and sloppy argument was legendary, and when he pushed his glasses high on to his
forehead, then rubbed his eyes, even the best -prepared counsel was in for trouble. In
the same way Cox remembers the student Didcott and his cronies going at each
other with relish, so too in court the judge would often battle it out with counsel ­
but always with the intention of reaching a better decision. 'He would argue both
sides - with counsel, with the witness, even with himself,' a Maritzburg attorney
Judge Chris Nicholson, who appeared before Judge Didcott many times while
still at the Bar, describes him in action as being 'like a chess Grand Master,
simultaneously playing a number of matches with counsel.' A member of the
Durban Bar. however. recalls that the judge was not always the winner. 'On the
right trail he was magnificent. He was superb his mastery of language and
incisiveness of thought were unsurpassed. But just sometimes, when his judgement
'went wrong in a case, he would fly off with passion and vigour after a red herring.'
But \vhen he was wrong, the judge was quite prepared to admit it and to do so with
a flourish. For example, in the mid-eighties he felt he had to back down from his
decision in a previous case. 'Having given the topic more careful thought' he said.
'I recant altogether, borrowing the apologia of [Baron Bramwell in 1872] who,
when he found himself similarly embarrassed, announced 'The matter does not
appear to me now as it appears to have appeared to me then. '
Judge Didcott stirred controversy among many of his colleagues because he
never handed down the death penalty. Was he merely lucky in his cases? Did he
creatively interpret his judicial oath to justifY not imposing the death sentence?
Were other judges left to hear the really bad capital cases which he had somehow
managed not to take? These questions are still debated.
Whatever the answer, he made no secret of his opposition to capital punishment.
In his decision on a death penalty case before the Constitutional Court, Judge
Didcott wrote: 'South Africa has experienced too such savagery. The wanton killing
must stop before it makes a mockery of the civilised, humane and compassionate
society to which the nation aspires, and has constitutionally pledged itself. And the
state must set the example by demonstrating the priceless value it places on the lives
of all its subjects - even the worst. '
Judge Didcott was an enthusiastic movie buff. and enjoyed carpentry and the pop
music of the 50s and 60s. But it was his passion for the law and justice that made
him . one of the great judges of our generation', according to Constitutional Court
president Arthur Chaskalson. Judge Didcott's commitment to justice led to a
number of honorary doctorates and other awards. In 199 L the University of Natal
awarded him an honorary doctorate. The Orator said: 'This university seeks to
honour a judge who has striven for justice in a system of injustice. Under ordinary
circumstances. it could be said that this is what all judges are appointed to do.
Under [our circumstances], however, it is both a comment on the legal system and
on Judge Didcott that he is one of the few who are prepared to do their appointed
Judge Didcott leaves his mother Flo, his wife Pam, two daughters and four
(By courtesy of the Sunday Times.)
Keith Oxlee (1934-1998)
Springbok flyhalf Keith Oxlee, the inspiration behind Natal's playing style in the
1960s and a hugely influential player, died in Durban late in August 1998. The 63­
year-old Oxlee undenvent a hip replacement operation and was reportedly
recovering well at home when a blood clot suddenly ended his life.
(1) Keith Oxlee (2) Jackie McGlew
(3) John Didcott (4) Ronald MacMillan
(5) Christopher Cresswell (6) Owen Horwood
Photographs 1, 2, 3 and 6 courtesy The Natal Witness
Photographs 4 and 5 courtesy The University of Natal.
Oxlee, who became the first Natalian to win 100 provincial caps, played 19 Tests
for the Springboks between 1960 and 1965, scoring five tries in a total of 88 points.
It was Oxlee' s refreshing approach, his panache in an era of conservative, often
grim, rugby, which was his undoubted hallmark.
Keith Parkinson, the president of the Natal Rugby Union, describes Oxlee as a
'Natal legend, without any doubt the greatest I played with or against. He was a
great guy, modest but full of fun. This is a great loss for Natal rugby.'
Oxlee's 102 matches for Natal stretched over 16 years (1955-71) and he made
his Test debut against the 1960 All Blacks. He became a goal kicker only
reluctantly, and relatively late in his career, when press-ganged into kicking the
winning penalty as the Boks beat Wales 3-0 in a quagmire at Cardiff Arms Park on
the 1960-61 UK tour. Such was his natural talent that he soon became a respected
goal kicker. winning matches for the Springboks by landing penalties as well as
scoring tries.
Natal rugby was fortunate to stumble upon the right man at the right time.
Fielding lightweight packs against beefy opposition, possession was a rare
commodity, to be nurtured and kept in hand. The innovative coach Izak van
Heerden had the ideal playmaker in Oxlee, and the King's Park crowds in that era
were treated to invigorating, free-ranging, 15-man rugby. Van Heerden and Oxlee
were men ahead of their times.
The unorthodox became the norm in Natal rugby. Moves were launched from
deep defensive positions and Oxlee, adept at involving fast loose-forwards and busy,
roving wings in exciting thrusts, kept pulling the strings. Sleight of hand passing,
constant switches of direction and astute tactical kicking were features of the Oxlee
game and far more physical, talented teams were exposed by this twinkle-toed
approach. A Natal style of rugby, based on a mobile pack, sure handling and
ambitious running was born.
There were famous moments: the 6-6 draw at King's Park with the formidable
All Blacks and the 14-13 win over John Thronett's 1963 Wallabies when Natal
went all season unbeaten and were disappointed that there was no Currie Cup title
at stake.
Oxlee went on to play 19 times for the Springboks, though one sensed that his
tricks for Natal and his non-conformity both on and off the field - were held
against him by the conservative South African rugby hierarchy.
He was at his peak in 1962 when he became the most prolifically-scoring fly-half
in South African rugby and dominated the series against the British Lions, scoring
all the Springboks' points in the second Test (won 3-0) and the third (won 8-3) and
then 16 points in the fourth (34-14). Had he kicked a last-minute penalty from
straight in front of the posts instead of running it, he would have broken Don
Clarke's world record of 18 points. John Gainsford, the famous Springbok centre,
played outside Oxlee in all 19 of his internationals. 'He took the knocks and never
gave me anything but clean ball,' said Gainsford. 'That is a mark of greatness in a
Test fly-half. He was the finest I ever played with.'
Oxlee, aged 32, retired in 1967 and, in his farewell game, Natal beat the SA
Barbarians (with 10 Springboks) 32-22 in front of an adoring King's Park crowd.
Later he became a selector, and he was on the Natal panel four years later when he
was begged by the four other members to return to the provincial team to guide a
young backline through their teething problems. So, at the age of 36 and obviously
lacking match practice, Oxlee returned against Eastern Transvaal at King's Park. I
was behind the posts at the city end that day. It was a perfect viewing platform for
those who wanted to watch Oxlee weave his magic, draw defences and then
suddenly switch the direction of the attack.
And it produced one indelible memory of Oxlee at play. Natal had the feed to the
scrum on the halfway line and 15 metres in from touch. As the forwards packed
down, Ox lee signalled to his blind-side wing Malcolm Warner, who started to edge
infield as if about to join an open-field sortie. With our bird's-eye view we could see
the Eastern Transvaal wing leave his post on the touch-line as he followed Warner.
Natal won the scrum and Oxlee ran to the open side, dummied to Warner on his
shoulder but then stopped and flung a long pass back toward touch. Chuffing up
from fullback came Malcolm Swanby who took the ball at full sprint on the
unguarded left touchline and ran 50 metres untouched to the corner flag where loose
forward Richard Steyn was up to score. It was the most simple of moves, but it was
timed to perfection and it worked a treat. And that was Oxlee's secret. He had
timing, vision and excellent handling. And his moves, his tricks, worked.
Oxlee played three more games as he steadied the Natal backline in that 1971
season before slipping back into retirement and seeking out the bowling greens.
The British Lions captain Arthur Smith paid him a warm tribute at the end of
the 1962 series: 'The trouble with Oxlee is that you never know what the blighter
will be doing next.' That is what the King's Park faithful - well, those with long
memories anyway will remember about Keith Oxlee. He brought to rugby an
excitement and a sense of adventure. He prompted the romantic upset when the
small guys occasionally toppled the brawny. And he did it in style.
Ronald George MacMillan (1910-1998)
Ronald MacMillan, who died in June 1998, joined the University of Natal in
Pietermaritzburg as Professor and Head of the Department of Education in 1957,
and in 1971 became Vice Principal, from which position he retired in 1975. It was a
period during which government policy, hostile to liberal education, became more
pervasively influential, especially as central government's administrative authority
increased. Perhaps that was one reason why, as Vice Principal, he jealously
defended the relative independence of the Pietermaritzburg campus from the central
administration in Durban. MacMillan consistently upheld principles of education
policy and practice to develop open minds, particularly by drawing on his wide­
ranging knowledge of Comparative Education - a field in which he published
innumerable articles in international journals. More significant for attitudes in
South Africa was his response to a request from Dr E G Malherbe (then Vice­
Chancellor) to organise a National Education Conference in Durban in 1960.
Prominent international figures from the U.S.A., Britain and the Continent were
among the more than 200 leaders of discussion groups: and the conference was
highly successful in attracting participants from the whole of South Africa. Though
there were papers (published in what may seem an ironic title, Education and Our
Expanding Horizons) by proponents of Christian National Education, the general
tone was liberal, and participants were likely to be encouraged to uphold liberal
principles and practice. MacMillan's own way of doing so was chiefly through
public addresses and membership of numerous institutional and national
committees. He became chairman of the South African Association for the
Advancement of Education in 1965 and was awarded its Gold Medal in 1977. His
mvn specialism was in tertiary education and he was awarded a Fulbright -Hays
grant in 1962/63 to study admission levels to higher education in the USA, a few
years later obtaining a grant to study universities in West Germany.
Professor MacMillan' s own education was by no means on an easy route. for
much of it was achieved by part-time. Born in 1910 in the Transvaal, he obtained
his schooling and professional teachers' certificate there. He went on, while
teaching. to obtain a string of degrees from the universities of the Witwatersrand
and South Africa until the outbreak of war and after it - BSc (1932) in Chemistry
and Geography; BA(l935) in English; MA (1939) in English: BEd (1950) and PhD
(1954). From 1940 to 1946 he was in command of Army Education Services in
Italy. attached to the 6th SA Division. But neither then nor later did he confine
himself to scholarly interests. Athletics was his major sport; he represented South
Africa in 1935 and his record for the 880 yards, created in 1937, remained unbroken
until 1946. It is perhaps not surprising that in his lectures, speeches and
encouragement of staff. metaphors about running a race were frequent and
sometimes mixed. Moreover. he was an interested supporter of many student
sporting activities.
Ronnie MacMillan is survived by his widow, Dulcie, who was throughout a
staunch supporter of his work, and by their sons and grandchildren.
Christopher Cresswell (1933-1998)
Christopher Cresswell came to the University of Natal in 1988 to take up the
appointment as Vice-Principal of the Durban centre with a big reputation as a
scientist. He had published over 200 articles in the field of plant physiology and
biochemistry. The quality and originality of his work had been recognised in the
award of the South African Gold Medal for his work in photosynthetic and nitrogen
metabolism, the Claude Harris Leon Award for work on the indigenous grasses of
the southern African savanna regions, and in his election as a fellow of the Royal
Society of South Africa.
Equally important for the contribution he was to make, he had obtained valuable
insight into developments that were taking place in universities elsewhere in the
world. Apart from teaching at \Vits (where he became professor of botany at the age
of 34). he had studied at Bristol for his PhD and had been visiting professor at
California Santa Cruz, at the Ben Gurion University of Negev in IsraeL and at the
John Innes Research Institute in Britain. At Wits he had been dean of science
between 1983 and 1988, guiding that faculty through the many negotiations that led
to the' School' system which provided for students with an inadequate grounding in
His academic standing and wide experience of international trends enabled
Cresswell to play a crucial role in the developments that were taking place at the
University of Natal. In the year of his appointment the university adopted an
important planning document for the ensuing 10 years, based on the expectation of
political and other change. Cresswell identified fully with the objectives of internal
reorganisation and academic change to meet the needs of a changing student
population. of increasing research output and of curriculum change to bring the
university more into line with international practice. His first efforts were to
streamline the administration, to initiate a campus plan which envisaged among
other things the relocation of the faculties of humanities and social science in the
Memorial Tower Building and the creation of an educational development structure
to co-ordinate the student support section with those of the faculties. To encourage
research and improved teaching he was instrumental in the creation of university
fcllm't·ships. teaching awards and the reorganisation of the promotions system.
At the end of 1991 Professor P. Booysen retired as Vice Chancellor. Cresswell
\vas a candidate for the position and his supporters were upset when at the last
minute three members of the selection committee who had acted as referees were
forced to withdraw. He, however, accepted the appointment of Professor James Leatt
with good grace, and threw himself with renewed energy into the tasks he had set
himself in the Durban centre, adding to these the creation of a self-supporting
Innovation Centre. When his contract expired in 1993 Cresswell was obliged to
reapply for his position. This he did, once again swallowing his pride, and agreed to
stay on for a further three-year period.
Leatt commenced a Vice Chancellor's Review (VCR) of the university's
administration and academic activities. the first exercise of this kind attempted at a
South African university. Cresswell's contribution was very considerable, especially
his insistence that research be provided for in the central university-wide structures
by means of the appointment of a deputy vice chancellor. He was also a strong
advocate of the reorganisation of teaching programmes and the restructuring of
faculties for this purpose into interdisciplinary schools, based on the strengths of
each centre. During a visit to the USA he encountered the ideas of Peter Senge and
persuaded the VCR to include specific reference to the ideals of systemic thinking
and the creation of a Learning Organisation. Following the acceptance of the VCR's
early recommendations, he developed an implementation plan for the Durban centre
after protracted discussions with the faculties.
During Cresswell' s term of office the university experienced an unusual degree
of student unrest. The most serious occurred at the beginning of 1992 when the
student Knowledge Mdlalose was refused readmission by the Faculty of Law. This
led to agitation by a 'committee often', many of whose members were not students.
\Vhile handling down-to-earth plans for campus security, Cresswell remained
patient in his dealings with student leaders and, when a contingent of police fired
upon a body of protesting students while the Senate was debating Mdlalose's fate,
he angrily confronted the police, disregarding personal danger. Despite the demands
they made upon his time, he liked the student leaders with whom he had dealings.
He understood the circumstances which had produced their anger, and the
difficulties they encountered in challenging authority. He remained convinced that
much of what occurred was the work of a 'third force' .
Cresswell's major contribution to the University of Natal undoubtedly lay in his
commitment to change. His term as Vice-Principal, and after the VCR restructuring
as Durban PrincipaL was an important period of readjustment. Some of these
changes had been anticipated in the 1988 university report, while others emerged
following the political revolution of 1993 and the sudden readmission of the South
African universities to the international university scene. Others - like the need to
define terms such as 'centre' and 'campus' - arose from a scientist's passion for
order and definition. His overseas experience helped to create the determination to
improve teaching, to promote research and to adopt practices which had already
been followed at leading overseas institutions.
Despite his vision and his determination to effect change, Cresswell had the
wisdom to know how to compromise, and maintained a fine sense of judgement
even when pressure of work. workplace relations and time-consuming negotiations
wore at his patience. Many of his proposals could not be easily grasped because
practices were rooted in the existing university culture. His knowledge of systemic
change and his experience as dean of science at Wits led him to expect resistance,
and armed him with understanding of its many complexities. He was thus able to
remain optimistic despite numerous frustrations, and could forgive the personal
slights of those less farseeing than himself. His wife Evelyn provided calm support.
together with insight into the importance of the humanities and social sciences. His
patience wore thin only when he had to deal with the posturing of individuals whose
academic record he knew to be unimpressive.
At the end of 1995 surgery revealed cancer of the thyroid. Medical advice was
that he had no more than three months to live. This he refused to accept, and in the
ensuing 30 months undertook two sea voyages, served as acting principal of the
M.L. Sultan Technikon, and built the new family home at Mtunzini, where he died
peacefully on 10 June 1998. His achievements as a botanist earned him a worldwide
reputation. His immense contribution to the transformation of the University of
Natal and to higher education in KwaZulu-Natal will surely also receive the
recognition it deserves.
Derrick John ('Jackie ') McGlew (1929-98)
One of South Africa's great cricketers, and especially as captain of the Springbok
team during the fifties and early sixties, he was always affectionately known to his
friends and team mates as Jackie. Born in Pietermaritzburg, and educated at
Merchiston and Maritzburg College, he played his first game for Natal in 1947 at
the age of 18, and in time he became the province's leading run-scorer and most
successful captain.
He made his debut for South Africa on the tour to England in 1951, when he and
team mates Roy McLean and Cuan McCarthy were known as the 'three Macs'. All
three began their careers in Pietermaritzburg. On this first tour Jackie was selected
as an opening batsman, and although he only appeared in the first two tests he was
still able to accumulate 1 002 first-class runs on the tour.
He was chosen as vice-captain to Jack Cheetham on the famous tour to Australia
and New Zealand in 1952-3, and it was during this tour that Jackie really confirmed
his early promise as an international cricketer. He approached every task in life with
a tigerish quality, and never more so than on this tour, when he set the example
with some thrilling fielding and catching that was to be followed by every future
Springbok cricket team.
During that momentous tour Jackie scored 255 not out in the first test against
New Zealand, which still stands today as the highest score by a South African
batsman in test matches outside the country. In the five tests against New Zealand in
South Africa in 1953-4 he was the leading run scorer with 351, at an average of
43.87. During the domestic seasons in South Africa he led Natal to numerous Currie
cup victories and established himself as a most knowledgeable captain.
The tour to England in 1955 must always rank as his finest performance, when
he not only established himself as one of the finest opening batsmen in the world,
but proved his ability as captain by leading South Africa to victory in the 3rd and
4th tests when Jack Cheetham was injured and unable to play. In the first test he
showed his courageous and fighting qualities when all about him were being
demolished by the England fast bowlers. He stayed at the wicket for 306 minutes in
the first innings, scoring 68 runs; and then scored another stubborn 51 runs in 249
minutes during the second innings.
Leading by example during the 3 rd test despite being severely struck on the body
by the fast bowling of Frank Tyson, he scored 104 at Old Trafford. He followed this
with 133 at Headingly in the 4th test, which carried the side to victory on both
occasions. Once again he was the leading South African run scorer in the test series,
and totalled 1 871 first -class runs on the tour. It was during this period that the
opening partnership of McGlew and Goddard grew to become one of the most
successful in international cricket.
Jackie finally achieved his ambition when he was chosen to captain South Africa
against Peter May's England team in the 1956-7 series, but injury before the first
test caused him to appear only in the second test, which was a great disappointment
not only to him, but also to the team. Although he played with much success in all
five tests against the Australians the following season, he had to wait until the 1960
tour of England to be reappointed as Springbok captain.
The 1960 tour was probably the most difficult for any captain to handle, as it
was the one to be disrupted by anti-apartheid demonstrators during the entire five­
month period. Politics invaded the sports arena, and as captain Jackie had to handle
press conferences which were always loaded with political questions. There was also
the no-balling of Geoff Griffin for throwing during the Lords test, but through all
this he was able to handle every situation with great diplomacy and leadership.
Despite all these difficulties, and the loss of the series, he was still able to score well
oyer 1 000 nms for the third time on a tour of England.
lackie McGlew retired from international cricket after the 1961-2 series against
Ne" Zealand, with a test match record of 34 matches, 2 440 runs, a highest score of
255 and an average of 42'()6.
In later years he became a national selector and managed many South African
Schools' teams which included up-and-coming stars such as Barry Richards,
Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter.
Some of my lasting memories of lackie are the sight of him diving in the covers
to prevent any chance of a boundary being scored: and batting without a cap, head
and chin duwn in dour defence of his wicket. Those who played under him will
always admire his knowledge of the history of cricket and value the advice and
friendship of a true sportsman.
Rest in peace, Skipper.
Olven Pieter Faure Horwood (1917-1998)
Former Principal of the University of Natal Owen Horwood died suddenly in
Stellenbosch on 13 September 1998 at the age of 81. He apparently suffered a heart
attack. He was on his way to lunch with his wife when he suddenly became ilL He
was taken to hospital in Stellenbosch, and died shortly after being admitted.
The apartheid-era finance minister was also National Party leader in Natal for
12 years. He retired from politics in 1983 and moved from Gauteng to Stellenbosch
during 1997. He was professor of economics on the Durban campus of the university
and became principal and vice-chancellor from 1965. He was also and adviser on
economic affairs to the government of Lesotho.
In 1970 he resigned from the university to take up a seat as a Natal-based
senator. The then prime minister B.1. Vorster appointed him to the cabinet as
minister of tourism and Indian affairs in 1972. He was elected leader of the National
Party in Natal and held that position until 1984. In 1974 he was appointed minister
of trade and industry, and in February 1995 minister of finance. On his retirement
from politics he held the position of executive chairman of Nedbank until 1993.
Horwood's principalship of the university was marked by growing tension
between himself and a staff and student body who rejected his pro-government
(Adapted from material prOVided by the
University ofNatal's media relations department.)
Notes and Queries
Literary lions and landmarks
Does KwaZulu-Natal have its own literature? Colin Gardner has suggested that,
though KvvaZulu-Natal writers have produced a 'fair range of subtle literature', the
province can only be said to have provided the site for it. 'It is difficult.' he argued,
'to be sure in what sense Natal (sic), which is a part both of South Africa and of the
world, can claim ownership of "Natal literature" , C "Natal literature": a Scrap of
History and a Glance at Some Poems', Natalia 14, 1983). Whatever the concept
'Natal literature' may or may not mean, Natalia notes some literary events and
anniversaries during 1998.
Alan Paton
The University of Natal's Alan Patan Centre took the lead in Pietennaritzburg's
celebration of its famous son's most famous work.
A film festival was mounted in May during which two versions of Cry, the
Beloved Country were shown, as well as the 55-minute documentary Alan Paton's
Beloved Country. This film, which won the Avanti Award for the best documentary
of 1996, was produced by Cathy Myburgh and introduced by 10nathan Paton.
In September the Transitional Local Council hosted a Civic Reception at which
both the Mayor, Councillor Sipho Gwala, and Colin Gardner spoke of Paton's links
with the City and the abiding significance of Cry. Next morning 10icelyn Leslie­
Smith of the Alan Paton Centre led a tour of sites associated with Paton. The party,
which included members of Paton's immediate family, visited number 19 Pine
Street where he lived until 1914, and the upstairs room at the Lambert Wilson
Building in Longmarket Street which housed the national headquarters of the
Liberal Party of South Africa from 1958 to 1968.Tea at the Tatham Art Gallery
followed. Formerly the Supreme Court, this was where Paton's father spent his
working life as a shorthand writer.
At Maritzburg College visitors saw buildings that would have been familiar to
Paton as a scholar and later as a teacher, and also the wall where one of his poems
was inscribed to mark the school's centenary in 1963.
Old walls that echoed to our cries,
Our oaths and prayers and laughter,
And echo now to cries of those
Who follow after.
When earth has taken back to earth
76 Notes and Queries
Our unremembered bones,
Preserve the echo of our names
About your stones.
(Written in 1928 and published in the Maritzburg College Magazine in 1934.)
Then to the Colin Webb Hall on the University campus. In Paton's days at NUC
one building housed all the lecture rooms, labs and administrative and lecturer's
offices, and the hall itself served as the library, a theatre and a venue for dances.
Since Paton had been active in all spheres of student life, including amateur
dramatics, he would have known this building well, so it was an appropriate setting
for a reading of his poems presented by the Good Companions. The last stop was
made at the Alan Paton Centre itself which houses theAlan Paton archive and where
his study has been recreated.
That evening the celebrations were brought to a rousing climax by Helen
Suzman who delivered the fifth annual Alan Paton Lecture under the auspices of the
Centre and the Liberal Democratic Association. A warmly appreciative audience
gave her a standing ovation at the end of her talk, 'Alan Paton, Liberalism and the
New South Africa'.
vVilliam Plomer
It was twenty-five years ago that William Plomer, another writer to whom Natal
may lay claim, died in England. His contribution to the literature of this province
was significant though his stay here was short. His novel Turbott Wolfe (London,
1926) was set in Zululand and enraged South African readers and reviewers - with
the notable exception of The Natal Witness. He collaborated with Roy Campbell in
the editing of Voorslag, and wrote a number of short stories and poems. The exact
site of the cottage at Sezela where Voorslag was born is difficult to identifY, but the
house near Entumeni where Turbott Wolfe was written still stands; despite
alterations it retains the atmosphere of the period. The building that housed the
family's store where Plomer himself worked is now a post office and a nursery
school, but another small store stands alongside. The youths lounging on the
verandah, the chickens scratching in the dust and the group of old men intent upon
a game of umalabalaba are timeless, and it is easy for the visitor to imagine the
place as Plomer would have known it.
Bessie Head
Though Bessie Head had strong connections with KwaZulu-Natal it does not feature
in her writing almost all of which is set in Botswana, where she lived from 1964
until her death in 1986, and which claims her as its own. In June this year The
University of Botswana's first ever international conference was devoted to this
writer and her work.
Head was born in 1937 in Pietermaritzburg where her mother was a patient at
Fort Napier Hospital. Her family were unwilling to care for this child of an
unknown father and she was put out to foster care. She fonned a deeply loving bond
with Nellie Heathcote with whom she lived at 73 East Street, Pietermaritzburg, and
whom she believed to be her real mother; she was fourteen years old and an inmate
77 /vrotes and Queries
of St Monica's Home at Hillary, near Durban, when she was disabused of this belief
in a way that was particularly insensitive.
Gillian Stead Eilerson, author of Bessie Head: Thunder Behind Her Ears (Cape
Town. London and Portsmouth NH, 1995),which is the first full-length work to
appear on Head, is herself a writer with a background in KwaZulu-Natal. She was
born and brought up in this province, and attended school and university here.
John Conyngham
This author, who is editor of The Natal Witness, has assured Natalia that his
recently-published third novel The Lostness of A lice is 'partly set in Natal'. We
would have liked to review it but unfortunately it was published too late in the year
for that to be possible. Horace Rose, editor of The Natal Witness from 1904 to 1925,
was also a novelist, but his books have dated badly and are unlikely to find readers
A further note on Alan Paton: the schoolteacher
A reminiscence of my father [writes W.H. Bizley] has alerted me to the possibility
that Alan Paton the schoolmaster, as presented in biographies, does not get a totally
fair 'press'. My father, slightly lame in one arm, remembers Paton as the one and
only Maritzburg College master who spotted that he had difficulties in geometrical
drawing, and who arranged for him to have longer time for tests and special desk
facilities. He remembers Paton - who is inevitably drawn as of thunderous bad
temper being a powerful enough 'drawcard' for certain College boys to walk all
the way to the Paton house in Gough Road, and that for Friday evening 'fireside'
sessions where one could 'blarney' or read incipient masterpieces to one's heart's
content. (This probably related to the Students Christian Association camps he used
to run with Cyril Armitage and Jan Hofmeyr at Anerley on the South Coast.)
Spurred by such memories, I have phoned or personally interviewed several
more old Collegians. Hector Commons, headmaster of College in the 1970s, insists
that Paton was 'most impressive' and knew his subject, mathematics, extremely well
so much so as to influence his (Commons's) decision to go on with mathematics
after school. 'When he came into the classroom, with his bright and breezy
presence, things came alive. There was no chance of not attending! But he was
perhaps best suited for bright pupils. I remember him teaching without reference
to any syllabus - a third form class the "proofs of divisibility", something most
teachers would regard as far beyond the capability of that standard.' Commons
remembers him as able to tell a good joke, but not as one who would easily suffer a
joke against himself1
George Chadwick, too, recalls that Paton was always very well prepared and on
top of his subject - in his case, strangely enough, third-form Afrikaans. Chadwick
had such a good opinion of him that, later, during World War 2, when he was faced
with the problem of how to occupy the time of troops in camp near Johannesburg, it
struck him that they might go to Diepkloof and get Paton to show them around and
explain his reformatory project. Three lorry loads descended on the institution, and
Paton held their attention all afternoon. (This was before Paton was a 'world figure',
78 Notes and Queries
and the scheme would hardly have occurred to someone who had 'bad' schoolboy
memories of him.)
lan Behrmann was able to give me the fullest account. He does not rate Paton
quite as high as such famous teachers as Charles Carpenter (or indeed as Pape
himself. when it came to Latin) but agrees that he was always absolutely on top of
his subject, and that the tinge of impatience that biographers have noted can be
explained by this very enthusiasm. Behrmann was present on the notorious and
much-quoted occasion when Paton slung someone physically out of the classroom.
He says that, at the time, the boys in the class regarded it as a characteristic over­
reaction, but did not see it as a symptom of a brooding brutality. It was a spill-over
from Paton's typical way of dramatising lessons. For instance, he often used to
divide the class in two and have competitive quiz exchanges between the two sides,
orchestrated to reach a pitch of rivalry as the lesson drew to its end. The 'violent'
episode was an unfortunate moment in what was usually an entertaining and
absorbing learning process.
Alan Paton (middle row, third from left) in a Maritzburg College staff photograph in 1928.
The senior masters in the front row are Goldstone, Hudson, Carpenter,
Pape (the headmaster), Leach, Lamond and Kent
On the lighter side, Behrmann recalls that Paton, although a dedicated maths
and science teacher, had the true litterateur's enjoyment of playing with words. He
had a nickname for everyone in the class, and was given to punning. When one boy
said his name was Kohrs, he said 'Of course, of course, ... ' And when another was
downed in a pugilistic bout with B. Hosking, Paton remarked 'So you won't be
Hosking for any more trouble. '
After the War, but before he was world famous for Cry, the Beloved Country,
Pat on addressed the Natal Teachers' Society. In explaining why he felt he was too
much an individualist to have had a career in their ranks, he recalled one moment
when he was very much in the minority vis-a-vis his peers on the Maritzburg
College staff. This was a moment apparently much talked about in its day, but
79 .votes and Queries
which does not figure in the College history For Hearth and Home. Behrmann
believes (but is open to correction) that it was e.G. Bennett, head prefect and cricket
captain. who was 'asked to leave' when, following what he considered to be
prejudiced refereeing by RW. Kent he had led his (house) team off the field. (The
fact that in For Hearth and Home two head prefects are named for 1932, Bennett
and one other. and similarly two cricket captains, must surely bear out Behrmann' s
conjecture.) At any rate, Paton, obviously responding to the fact that the boy had, in
one perspective at least acted 'on principle', opposed the expulsion, but found that
the majority of the staff was ranged against him.
In that brief. now-forgotten incident might be discerned the future author of Cry,
{he Beloved Country .... !
(The author would like to thank the :\Jan Paton Centre. University of Natal. and the Maritzburg College Old
Hoys' .L,;:,;oelation for some valuable leads.)
St George's Garrison Church
Jack Frost has supplied a note regarding St George's Garrison Church which celebrated its centenary on
Friday <) October 1998. A large congregation attended a special Evensong on that day.
The church was built late in the colonial period as a memorial to British soldiers
who had laid down their lives in the service of the Queen in Britain's wars in
southern Africa. It accordingly houses a rich collection of brasses, mural tablets and
stained-glass windows. commemorating not only those who had already fallen by
1898 but casualties of the South African War and, in the form of a beautifully­
carved reredos, those who died in World War L There are, in addition, similarly
worded mural plaques recording the lives and service of three headmistresses of
Wykeham schooL Very early on in its history St George's was requisitioned by the
military as an additional hospital ward in which to nurse the flood of casualties
being sent back to Pietermaritzburg from General Redvers Buller's three-month­
long attempt to raise the siege of Ladysmith. The number of soldiers nursed within
its walls during 1900 eventually rose of 427 before victory on the Natal front
eventually allowed its return to ecclesiastical use.
Even during its days as a church for the Imperial garrison the importance of
civilian participation was stressed by successive chaplains. But the withdrawal of
the South Staffordshires, the last of a long line of regiments to garrison Fort Napier,
within days of the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. transferred the
ownership of the church from the War Office to the Bishop of Natal and St George's
itself to a new role as a daughter church in St Peter's parish. Since the 1976
amalgamation of St Peter's with St Saviour's, it has been a chapelry of the new
Cathedral of the Holy Nativity.
In the late 1920s another role was found for the church as a schools' chapel
ministering to the spiritual needs of the boarders of city schools, notably Wykeham
(which had a particularly close link, both geographical and emotional, from its
founding in 1905 until its closure at the end of 1989) and Maritzburg College.
St George's can claim a remarkable world record. In September, 1927, Mr
Willie Poole was appointed its organist. At its centenary service, over 71 years later,
he was still on the organ bench to play some of the opening voluntaries before the
80 Notes and Queries
cathedral organist and choir took over. According to the Royal School of Church
Music this remarkable period of faithful service constitutes a unique achievement of
which, according to their records, there has been no equal in the history of church
music. Today the soldiers are long gone and the schools have their own chapels, but
worship at St George's continues with a small congregation Sunday by Sunday.
National monuments and heritage sites
Eloquent pleas and urgent petitions for conservation and restoration have failed to
save yet another of the oldest houses in Pietermaritzburg. Number 241 Commercial
Road, until recently occupied by Oxenham' s Bakery, has suffered the ultimate
indignity of demolition and replacement by an American fast food outlet. It has not
escaped the notice of Maritzburgers that this nightmare of corporate architecture
stands at the corner of Commercial Road and Burger Street. (See Brann Rand R
Haswell, 'The Oldest Houses in Pietermaritzburg', Natalia 13, 1913.)
But conservation efforts in KwaZulu-Natal are not all unsuccessful. In its report
for the year ending 31 March 1997 the National Monuments Council lists eight
premises in the province as having been newly declared as national monuments. We
quote from the report :
The Durban Light Infantry Headquarters with the property on which it is situated,
at 5 DLI Avenue, Durban.
This building complex was erected in 1904. Apart from serving as a military
hospital during the First World War (1914-19), it has always been the headquarters
of the Durban Light Infantry Regiment. Architecturally, the Infantry Headquarters
is characterised by a combination of redbrick and stucco surfaces and the use of
elements which are synonymous with medieval military buildings. It consists of a
drill hall and associated offices and stores, an officers' mess, a regimental museum,
a warrant officers' mess and a regimental chapel. This building complex is a
landmark on both DLI Avenue, a major artery of the city, and the Greyville
racecourse. It is also closely associated with the history and traditions of one of the
country's best-known regiments.
The former War Department Lords' Ground Boundary marker, at No. 2 Old Fort
Road, Durban.
This marker, the only surviving beacon of its kind, marked the corner of Lords'
Ground, formerly the cricket ground of Durban. In 1986 the Old Fort Road was
upgraded and the beacon, still in its original position, is now situated on the
pavement. Stone markers of this kind were commonly used during the Colonial era
to demarcate property owned by the War Department. Among the areas thus marked
were vast expanses north of Durban's city centre such as the so-called Ordnance
Land, the Old Fort and Lords' Ground. The importance of this site is essentially
military and scientific in that it illustrates nineteenth-century land surveying
practices, in particular methods of marking boundaries.
81 Sotes and Queries
The property with the Hollis House thereon, at J78 Florida Road, Windermere,
J Hollis, founder of the Clairwood Racecourse and building contractor of the Durban
City Hall, built this house between 1907 and 1909. After the Hollis family sold the
mansion, it was used as a boarding house and subsequently as offices for the Natal
Teachers' Society. The house has a Marseille-tiled roof, orate gables, much
decorated plaster work and a balcony with coupled Ionic-Doric composite columns
supported on square piers at ground level. The interior of the house is noted for its
staircase, moulded plaster ceilings and wall panels, stained glass windows and roof
lights, teak panelling, as well as teak and marble floors.
The original cell block of the old Pietermaritzburg Prison, at 2 Burger Street,
Built in 1862, this cell block replaced the Voortrekker prison on the Market Square.
It has been associated with several prominent Zulu prisoners, amongst them Nkosi
Langalibalele Hlubi (1873) and King Dinizulu (1907-1909). The prisoners from the
Inniskilling Fusiliers' mutiny at Fort Napier in 1887 were also accommodated here,
as well as local political figures in more recent times. The building originally
housed prisoners of both sexes and probably included a death row, as the gallows
were attached to the front door. During the 1980s a new prison was built in
Pietermaritzburg, after which the old building complex stood empty for several
years. It has since been taken over by Project Gateway, a non-profit church-based
organisation dedicated to the upliftment of the local population. The combined use
of redbrick and sandstone at such an early period is unusual in Pietermaritzburg,
which is renowned for its redbrick buildings. This cell block is one of the older
surviving Government buildings in Pietermaritzburg and has several architectural
features which mark it as a forerunner of such buildings in the city. (Editor's note:
Cr. the article 'Scratching out one's days' in Natalia 27.)
The Tatham Art Gallery and the adjacent gardens, in Commercial Road,
This art gallery is housed in Pietermaritzburg's former Supreme Court building
which was designed in 1864 by Peter Paterson who had assumed office as Colonial
Engineer in 1860. The building was to provide accommodation for the Supreme
Court and the Legislative Council of the Natal Government. Although the
foundation stone was laid in November 1865, the building was only completed in
1875. The old Supreme Court was built in the Renaissance pavilion style with a
symmetrical arcaded front showing Romanesque influences. The four pavilions at
the corners of the building are demarcated by pitched roofs carrying finials. The
terracotta bricks of the external walls are hand-made and differ from the well­
known red Maritzburg brick. External brick work is broken by bands of stone
mOUldings and plaster, and by courses of cream and black brick. The columns are
plastered, as well as the corners of the building.
The historical core ofFort Napier, in Napierville, Pietermaritzburg.
The first group of local English inhabitants established themselves on 31 August
1843, when a small British force encamped on a hill called Camp Hill to the west of
82 Notes and Queries
the town. This force comprised two companies of the 45th Regiment of Foot, 15
engineers and a few artillerymen with three guns, all of which were under the
command of Major Smith. The next day the construction of a primitive fort
commenced, consisting of a central square with two flanking redoubts. Shortly
afterwards the defensive post was named Fort Napier in honour of Sir George
Napier, the Cape Governor. Within two years permanent buildings of stone and
brick with tiled roofs had been provided, but the remaining buildings, together with
the already declared recreation hall and St George's garrison church, form part of
this historical building complex.
The Joseph Baynes A1ausoleum on the farm Nel 's Rust, Richmond District.
Born in Yorkshire in 1842, Baynes came to Natal as a Byrne Settler in 1850. He
developed the potential of the fields to which his estate was suited and was
particularly successful with the innovations he introduced concerning scientific
farming methods and commercial agriculture. He is known too for the early use of
electricity and mechanisation and was the first South African to dip cattle. Baynes
also introduced large-scale commercial diary farming and made it viable by using
methods such as pasteurisation and refrigeration. He was an important Friesland
breeder, but was also well-known for establishing commercial pig farming and pork
processing in Natal. 1\n astute businessman, he owned a chain of dairies, tea rooms
and pork and cheese factories in Natal, the Transvaal, the Free State and Rhodesia
(now Zimbabwe). In addition, Baynes was a controversial but, for his day,
enlightened politician who served as a member of parliament in Natal between 1899
and 1910. Baynes left the Baynesfield estate to the nation, specifying that all profits
were to be used for agricultural development and research, as well as the education
of African farmers on the estate, the creation of a public park and the establishment
of homes for black and white children. Set in an oval garden surrounded by a low
stone wall, the mausoleum was constructed in 1923 after the death of Baynes' s
second wife. It is the site of Joseph Baynes' s burial place and consists of a small
chapel-like structure in the Gothic revival style. It has a corrugated iron roof, copper
guttering and bronze grilles in place of glazing and doors. A memorial plaque in the
mausoleum concludes with the following words: 'The Estate is bequeathed in trust
for the benefit of South Africa and t4e advancement of its people, and to ensure
continued employment for the European and non-European people residing on the
Estate. '
The Lynmouth Glacial Pavement, situated on the remainder of the farm Hopewel/,
881, Richmond District.
This site is of notable geological significance, exhibiting good evidence of the
glacial activity and a prolonged period of glacial deposition of the Dwyka formation
over a period of 40-60 million years, beginning approximately 300 million years
In the Natal Midlands a large single ice sheet moved over the Natal Group
sandstone bed-rock leaving behind polished surfaces (glacial pavements) and telltale
scratches (striations) of debris carried in the glacier. Situated somewhat above the
Little Umkomaas River, this site forms the floor of a seasonal tributary which has
scoured away the overlaying shale. The Natal Parks Board has already declared the
83 ,\.Totes and Queries
surrounding area a site of significance, because of its natural beauty and the
presence of cycads and large numbers of aloes.
A home at last
Like William Plomer's novel. Turbott Wolfe, the sculptures of Mary Stainbank did
not find favour in Natal and she sold little of her work. A retrospective Exhibition in
the late 1980s gave another generation of Natalians an opportunity to re-assess it
and to accord her the belated recognition she deserved. (See Hillebrand, M., Mary
Stainbank: Sculptress of Natal', Natalia 17,1987.)
For some years the Stainbank collection was housed in the Natal colonial
legislative building . once the home of the lower house of the Natal Colonial
Parliament and later of the Natal Provincial Council. When the Natal Provincial
Legislature began to use the building it became necessary to find another home for
the sculptures. A number of local artists and art historians negotiated successfully
with the Voortrekker Museum to house them in its annexe in the former
Longmarket Street School building, and in October the sculpture collection and the
Mary Stainbank Archive were officially opened by Melanie HilIebrand. Director of
the King George V Art Gallery in Port Elizabeth. The artist's studio has been
recreated using her own workbench and tools. and the sculptures can be seen to
advantage in a pleasing setting.
Was she Gandhi's typist?
There is a well-known photograph of Gandhi with his staff taken when he was
running his law office in Johannesburg. Among them stands a competent-looking
woman with spectacles. Does anyone know who she was? The photograph can be
seen in Brookes, E.H. and B. Webb, A History of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 1965.
Boxing days
On a recent visit to Namibia a member of our editorial committee enjoyed the
Swakopmund Museum's small display of furniture made out of paraffin boxes.
Particularly impressive were a writing desk and a dressing table, each with
perfectly-fitting drawers made of paraffin tins. Do any of our readers know of any
items of such pioneer furniture in Natal, whether in museums or privately owned?
Natal and Voortrekker museums retain national status
The South African Constitution identifies cultural affairs as a provincial
responsibility, and for this reason the national Department of Arts, Culture, Science
and Technology (DACST) has for the past four years been re-organising the
national museums and art galleries. The institutions in Gauteng and Cape Town are
to be grouped together (in a quasi-Smithsonian model) to form two national
all other institutions will be devolved to the provinces where they are
situated. Five of these others, including the Natal Museum and the Voortrekker
Museum, both in Pietermaritzburg, successfully argued for their retention of
'national' status. All five (the other three are in Bloemfontein and Kimberley) will
84 Notes and Queries
continue to be funded by DACST, but the provinces concerned will be more closely
associated with the institutions than in the past. In commenting on the completion
of the Natal Museum's building extensions (Natalia 26. Notes and Queries), we
reminded readers that the museum was actually founded by the Natal Society in
1854, and later grew into an independent institution. Its research departments and
collections in arthropodology, malacology, lower invertebrates, archaeology and
historical anthropology are national assets and acknowledged internationally. The
Voortrekker Museum's sphere also extends across provincial boundaries. It is
appropriate that the two should remain national institutions.
Book Reviews and Notices
Cape Town, Van Riebeeck Society, Second Series No.27, 1997. pp.xvi,222,
Frederick Hale has been an affable and welcome presence at academic and,
especially, Norwegian commemorative occasions in KwaZulu-NataL With his local
knowledge of Natal, Zululand and Norway, and with his qualifications both as
historian (his numerous degrees not least!) and as Norwegian linguist he is an ideal
editor for this edition of the correspondence of Norwegian missionaries housed
mainly in Stavanger or contained in the missionary journals of that time. His aims
were fourfold: to make available at least some of a large cache of material hitherto
largely inaccessible to South Mrican readers owing to the language barrier; to
compile a documentary history of the Norwegian missionary endeavour; to provide
contemporary perceptions of the process of evangelizing the Zulu indigenes for us to
project against the later perspective of more than a century of unhappy race
relations, and, finally, to cast oblique light on the unfolding secular history of those
times. In these aims he has succeeded.
Missionaries continue to enjoy a mixed press. As 'Majeke', Dora Taylor once
cast them as the fifth column of European imperialism. Many critics still see them
thus as forward agents softening up indigenous societies for later, more relentless
economic exploitation and political oppression. But the primary intention of
mISSIonaries as this selection abundantly testifies - was the saving of souls. How
far they succeeded therein remains, of course, hidden from mere mortals; so our
concern must be more with their secular impact. And here the Norwegian
missionaries do provide plenty of commentary on the change wrought by their own,
and the general European, presence on the cosmology, political institutions and
material culture of the Zulu.
The key personality of the early years is Bishop Hans Schreuder. A tall,
impressive man, he personified the 'fundamental transition in the religious life of
Norway' of the early 19th century that had inspired the missionary effort thence.
Hale's introduction usefully sketches out these theological developments and the
fact that the Norwegian missionary effort sprang mainly from the inspirational root
of Lutheranism, and only later on diversified in South Mrica into several
86 Book Reviews and Notices
denominational branches. Indeed, his last chapter, which deals with the struggling
'Free East Africa Mission' serves as the clearest example of this diversification.
The early section on 'Penetrating Natal and Zulu land, 1844-77', revolves
largely round the larger-than-life figure of Schreuder. Even for this formidable man
the going was hard: it took fourteen years to baptise his first convert at Umpumulo
in Natal. In Zululand his Ntumeni station was evidence of hmv his medical
expertise. when put at King Mpande's service, had won the Norwegian missionaries
some limited purchase beyond the Tugela. For many years it remained, nevertheless.
a toehold rather than a foothold.
Chapter Ill. the 'Era of the Anglo-Zulu War' will probably be, for most readers,
the most interesting. Cetshwayo' s attitude toward the missionaries was ambivalent,
though he and Ommund Oftebro appear to have got on well at times. But the
growing border dispute with Shepstone's Transvaal increased friction between the
foreign churchmen and the Zulu state. As a symptom, there were the sporadic
executions of mission Africans. By 1878 the Norwegian missionaries saw the crisis
as sufficiently acute to justify their withdrawal from Zululand. At that time, too,
Schreuder described his consultations with Frere and, elusively, his limited role in
the Anglo-Zulu negotiations that followed (pp. 102-6).
Frere's partiality for missionaries is of course well known: and certainly his
plans for Zululand. when conquered, seem to have been premised round a larger
calling for them. Yet it would be wrong to ascribe too great an influence either to
advice offered by the Norwegians, especially Schreuder, to imperial administrators
such as the High Commissioner or to the missionary element in the then British
plans for Zululand after the conquest. Anyway, Isandlwana and the advent of the
unsympathetic Wolseley largely neutralized such schemes. Missionary comment
upon Wolesley's subsequent Zululand settlement (and on the position in it accorded
to the equally unsympathetic John Dunn) is predictably adverse. It does, however,
emerge that the potential for making converts was somewhat more promising than
before the war.
Chapter IV deals with 'Lutheran Consolidation and Expansion, 1880-99'. The
troubled nature of Zululand in the early post-conquest years, from 1880 to 1888, is
well documented, as, too, is Norwegian missionary apprehension about the return of
Cetshwayo in 1883. But the selection also illuminates the nature of missionary
activity in its daily round of social, religious, educational and economic activity.
Readers with gender preoccupations will find such extracts particularly relevant. Of
significance. too. is the question of cultural interaction. Sometimes it was easy and
informal: but, as the white missionary community grew, there were segregatory
influences at work especially concerning the shielding of young white mission
children from what were considered the negative aspects of black society. In
missionary eyes the easier-going rhythms of African life seemed to contradict their
own obsessive while 'sensuousness' was a vice from which the young
must at all costs be kept!
Such strains can be exaggerated. There was obviously a good deal of mutual
respect between individuals from the traditional tribal society and the Norwegian
missionary enclave. The latter's efforts to communicate new skills and attitudes
were both dedicated and, often, quite understanding of the traumas that such
87 Book Reviews and Notices
transitions could involve. For the missionaries, too, the life was harsh and subject to
all kinds of vicissitudes, not least those of pestilence, weather, penury and spiritual
backsliding. A major question thus arises from Hale's well-chosen extracts: was the
lot of the indigenes eased, or exacerbated, by such intermediaries during the
transformation - probably inevitable - imposed by this early (and painful) part of
the overall process of incorporation in a wider world? (As encouragement to sample
the selection, this reviewer leaves the answer to potential readers!)
In sum, the book can be freely recommended to both an academic and a lay
readership. The introductions to the theme, period, and to the individual letters are
apt the texts themselves illuminate many key facets of Norwegian missionary life;
the illustrations. albeit slightly fuzzy in places, reflect the characters of the
individuals and environments; and wider historical processes are detectable
throughout the work. Both Dr Hale and the Van Riebeeck Society are to be
congratulated for their initiative in making this key documentary commentary about
our region available to us. (The Society may be contacted at P 0 Box 496, Cape
Town 8000. Tel. 021-238424.
TERRIFIC MAJESTY : The powers of Shaka Zulu and the limits of historical
Cape Town and Johannesburg, David Philip Publishers, 1998. xxii, 278 pp. ISBN 0
864864213. R79.95
King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, in his various literary manifestations, is probably the
most widely-known figure in the history of the K waZulu-Natal region. This book,
based on the author's doctoral research at the Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore, investigates the various ways in which Shaka's career has been
represented since the mid-1820s when the first white traders moved into his sphere
of influence. A critical re-examination of the early nineteenth century sources upon
which so many subsequent images of the Zulu king were based reveals the extent to
which the perceptions of the Port Natal trading community concerning Shaka were
shaped and changed by the shifting fortunes of their own competing commercial
activities, their personal standing in the Zulu court, and the views of indigenous
peoples who were either subjects or neighbours of the kingdom.
The initial image of a benevolent, hospitable and co-operative monarch who
ruled over an orderly and well-mannered people was tainted only by the self-seeking
and quickly discredited aspersions cast by the trader lames King on a Shaka who
was otherwise portrayed in the Cape colony as being so 'civilized' that it was
suggested he might be 'of white extraction'. It was only after the Zulu king's
assassination in 1828. as circumstances in the region changed and British
colonization seemed to be the best way of reversing their mounting personal losses,
that the trading community as a whole began to vilify his memory, embellishing
their unfavourable representations with anecdotes previously supplied by indigenous
informants. In this way Shaka the tyrannical monster assumed his place in history,
88 Book Reviews and Notices
in competition with Shaka the benign founder of a nation and patron of foreign
Both these images were also evident in contemporary Zulu interpretations of
Shaka's reign and one of the significant contributions which this book makes to our
understanding of that period is to demonstrate the extent to which early literary
accounts of it were indelibly influenced by the indigenous African representations
with which there was extensive interaction. Divisions within Shaka's recently­
formed kingdom and the enmity of subjugated neighbours, particularly south of the
Thukela river, provided ample scope for the generation of oral traditions which
portrayed him as a tyrant and marauder, in contrast to those which extolled him as
military hero, founding father and able unifier of the kingdom. Many of the
Africans who joined the growing trading community at Port Natal brought with
them the negative oral traditions concerning Shaka, being victims of his territorial
conquests and, in some cases, fugitives from Zulu justice.
Subsequent indigenous representations of Shaka, it is suggested, were often
li:ilked to royal succession disputes - from Dingane and Mpande through to the
struggle between Cetshwayo and Mbuyasi, and beyond when the legitimacy of his
birth and the merits of his own actions were either supported or questioned as the
need arose. While this book focuses primarily upon the ways in which 'white'
interpretations of Shaka and early Zulu history were shaped, it reveals that there
was no single and consistent Zulu opinion on these subjects during the course of the
nineteenth century, and that indigenous formulations of this history in and beyond
Zululand probably exerted as much influence on the literary accounts produced by
white writers as did their own identities and prejudices.
Terrific Majesty shows how literary representations of King Shaka had
undergone several metamorphoses by the twentieth century when Zulu nationalists
tried to use his image as the basis of a common Zulu identity among disparate social
groups, while the architects of political segregation attempted to deploy it as the
foundation of a Zulu 'homeland'. By the 1920s the various interpretations of Shaka
had become so blurred as to make any clear classification of them impractical.
Prominent among these were the colonial perceptions which helped to shape
Theophilus Shepstone's system of 'native' administration in Natal, a reconstruction
of Shakan-type rule which was subsequently disputed and modified from the time of
the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War.
This study goes on to consider the efforts of lames Stuart, the colonial official
who between 1897 and 1924 tried to revive what he regarded as the essential
Shakan principles of Shepstone's administration by investigating the Zulu King's
reign through the extensive collection of oral evidence. It evaluates Stuart' s work in
relation to his motives, methods and social context, its relationship to
contemporaneous 'native administration' and academic endeavour, and the way in
which his and Shepstone's writings promoted a particular image of Shaka in
fictional and semi-fictional works like E.A. Ritter's Shaka Zulu. For them Shaka
represented firm but orderly government, a necessary alternative to lawless violence
even though its own authority was based on military conquest. This approach, it is
argued, drew heavily upon earlier Zulu perceptions of Shaka and was subsequently
89 Book Reviews and Notices
incorporated into apartheid philosophy, in opposition to which Shaka and Zulu
militarism also became a metaphor for stout resistance.
One of the achievements of Terrific Majesty is to marry within its covers two
previously quite disparate types of scholarship in the form of those studies which
have attempted to reconstruct the historical course of events in nineteenth century
Natal-Zululand and those focusing essentially on representations of the Zulu and
Zulu identity. It also demonstrates the dynamic interrelationship between past and
present by showing how the memory of Shaka as founding father has become
central to the promotion of Zulu nationalism as a political ideology which exerts
forceful sway over large parts of present-day KwaZulu-Natal. The author argues that
the power of Shaka's image, not least as a contemporary 'central metaphor in South
African politics', does not lie, as others have argued, in its amenability to re­
interpretation and exploitation but rather in the historical limitations upon its
depiction. as revealed by her own historian's analysis of the processes upon which
the history of Shaka and his times has been based.
This book is an invaluable contribution to the historiography, and literary
discourse. surrounding the early nineteenth century in this region. As such it will
have strong appeal not only to anthropologists and historians but also to those
engaged in literary analysis and cultural studies. It is not particularly easy to read,
being tightly argued and unwaveringly focused as one would expect of a work based
on doctoral-level research. Nevertheless, in common with the author's earlier edited
work The lvffecane Aftermath (Witwatersrand, University Press and University of
Natal Press, 1995), it is an essential purchase for informed readers who want to keep
abreast of the latest scholarship pertaining to the history of KwaZulu-Natal.
Natal Flora Publications Trust, 1998. 630 pp., illustrated. Soft cover:RI45, hard
I approach the task of reviewing this book from the standpoint of a natural historian,
which I suspect will be the background of the majority of potential readers - or
users, rather. for one does not read a field guide such as this, one uses (and enjoys)
it. As a zoologist I am not in a position to comment from a detailed botanical
perspective: I leave that to others with more relevant experience.
South Africa is world renowned for its floral heritage, much of which is centered
in the Cape, in what is recognised to be perhaps the world's hottest hotspot of
botanical diversity and endemism, the Cape Floral Kingdom. The eastern parts of
the country, however, also have an extraordinarily rich flora, and indeed the region
is home to three internationally recognised centres of plant diversity, in Pondoland,
Maputaland and the alpine Drakensberg. The geographical coverage of the book
rightly includes much more than the province of KwaZulu-Natal, for political
boundaries have no meaning for biogeography, the spatial distribution of organisms.
90 Book Reviews and Notices
In the production of any field guide, one is faced with choices and compromises
does one treat the organisms in strict systematic order. or opt for a more pragmatic
approach facilitating identification by the non-specialist? Does one use hand-drawn
illustrations or photographs? In this guide, the author has chosen to treat the species
in terms of flower colouL giving the user an immediate handle for the identification
of a particular plant. Although pragmatic, this means that the representatives of a
particular family or genus are frequently scattered through the book leading to
some repetition of introductory remarks, but to a large extent this is unavoidable.
Treating the plants in systematic order would necessitate the use of complex
terminology and the close scrutiny of flower parts. In any event. for those with such
a bent the author also provides a key to families, at the same time trying to keep the
language as simple as possible.
Colour photography has been chosen as the medium of illustration, and the
result is a stunning floral portfolio which vividly reveals the great beauty and
diversity of the region's wild flowers. The book has benefited greatly from the
generous donation of these photographs by a number of talented botanical
photographers. The treatment of the individual species follows a more or less
standard format, with descriptions of the flowers and vegetative parts as well as
information on flowering time, habitat and distribution, including maps. In
addition. there is frequently a 'general' section that often contains interesting
information about the biology of the plants, their uses in traditional medicine and as
garden plants, their cultivation and their value to other organisms such as birds and
insects. It is information of this nature that adds a further dimension to the book
contextualising the subject matter both in nature and in human society.
All this notwithstanding, the flora of the region is remarkably diverse (estimated
by Pooley to be in excess of 10 000 species) and the book covers more than 2 000
species of flowering plant. Consequently, the task of identifying any given wild
flower in eastern South Africa is not always a simple one. However. it is a task
made all the more possible with this book at hand, and one that can be attempted by
a much wider audience. It is far more comprehensive in its coverage than previous
popular literature on the subject.
If I have any criticism of the book it would be to say that the introductory chapter
is rather h::ief. I would have welcomed some kind of synthesis of the region's flora,
discussing its origins, its relationships with neighbouring floras, levels of endemism
and the effect of regional environmental history. Particularly pertinent would have
been some discussion of the various vegetation types occurring in the region,
including information on any unique or characteristic features of their wild flower
floras. But perhaps all this would be too academic for an essentially popular
Field guides of this nature have an extremely important role. Our only hope of
stemming the tide (perhaps a tsunami!) of environmental degradation sweeping the
Earth is through education and increased public awareness. But without adequate
tools that bring rarefied and scattered academic literature into the public domain,
the job is almost hopeless.
EIsa Pooley, the Trustees of the Natal Flora Publications Trust and all those who
helped and supported the publication of this book are to be thanked and
91 Book Reviews and Notices
congratulated for their very worthwhile product. It is a fine companion to the team's
earlier volume' A Field Guide to the Trees of K waZulu-Natal and Transkei' .
WAY UP WAY OUT. A satirical novel
By Harold Strachan
Cape Town, David Philip, 1998. 168 pp., R44,95
Despite its sub-title, this is clearly an autobiographical book. Names of people and
places may have been changed, and events sometimes conflated, but this is the story
of Harold Strachan. It takes us from his childhood in Pretoria and Pietennaritzburg,
through his schooldays and adolescence, to his wings parade at Central Flying
School. Dunnottar. a culmination of his fascination with flight. The 19-year-old
pilot can hardly believe his good fortune, his achievement, his freedom of the skies.
As 1 read this book with growing enjoyment and delight, I asked myself whether
my response had anything to do with my closeness to its subject-matter and setting.
About eight years younger than Strachan, I grew up in the same neighbourhood,
attended his Ma's kindergarten, have dim memories of him and his sisters
(awesomely grown-up they seemed, to a four-year-old) went to the same two schools
as he, roamed the same fields along the 'Duzi, and could probably name the man he
and his friends negotiated with to buy their nag, Mary. His accounts of boyhood
experiences in Maritzburg, the Karkloof and the Drakensberg awaken some of my
o\\n boyhood memories forever bound up with those places. Did all this predispose
me to enjoy the book, regardless?
I don't think so. Of course, some of the pleasure it gives derives from its South
African setting and flavour. its idiom, its assumption of the common colloquial
bilingualism of ordinary people. But I believe Way up way out will be appreciated
for its universal qualities. It recreates the enthusiasms, preoccupations, crudities and
sublimities of childhood and adolescence; it ridicules and castigates schools and
schoolmasters unable to tolerate individuality and it mines rich
veins of humour (his Ma's driving skills, his unpreparedness for the matric Latin
exam, church parade during pilot training, and many more). Its lyricism never
strikes a wrong note: the friendship of a childless middle-aged German widow for a
small boy in Pretoria: launching a model aeroplane in the veld at Mountain Rise;
sleeping under the stars on a pilgrimage to the Karkloof where Goodman Houshold
flew his glider; cycling to Durban to listen again, adoring, to a singer who had
captivated him in the Maritzburg City Hall the medieval courtly love of an
adolescent knight -errant on a bicycle. The death of a close friend as they complete
their pilot training ends the book, and perhaps Strachan's adolescence also. The
ending is truly 'a note of haunting elegy.'
That Harold Strachan is able, fifty years later, to capture all this with such a sure
touch, is the measure of his achievement as a writer. I hope he is working on a
Referring to his pungent satire, the back-cover blurb says it is 'not for the faint­
hearted', and predicts that Way up w«y out will cause 'more than ripples amongst
92 Book Reviews and Notices
the South African reading public more like four-metre waves.' That may be true,
but those faint-hearts who can't allow themselves to be lifted up on the powerful
swells of Stiachan' s satire, earthiness and lyricism don't deserve a seaside holiday.
Scotland and Durban: Clerkington, 1998. 277 pp. illus., R89,95
It is recognised that visitors to a place often know more about it than the locals do.
David Dick's Who was who in Durban street names is a case in point.
From its cover an inviting gateway to the City to the eight appendices, this
book is a fascinating meander through a colonial sprawl which now pulsates with
African life.
In some of the street names royal personages are honoured. generals are revered.
battles won are recorded, fighting ships are remembered, statesmen are
acknowledged and local personalities are commemorated. As these relate to the
mother country as well as Africa, and as many of the entries are quite long, one
learns the derivation of the name and gains insight to British and colonial history.
In other street namings the layout of the book allows a keen sense of nostalgia to
be detected. As evidence, the three appendices dealing with names derived from
places in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales cover twenty-one pages.
As regards the royals, it had never occurred to me that Avondale and Clarence
roads were both named after the murky Prince Albert Victor, eldest son of Edward
VII and Queen Alexandra. Then to have the titbit thrown in that his tutor at
Cambridge was James Kenneth Stephen, a cousin of Virginia Woolf, and possibly
the link between the prince and 'Jack the Ripper', came as an extra bonus.
There are some points that I would debate with the author as, in his introduction,
he encourages readers to do. One is Mr Dick's claim that Botha's Hill was named
after General Louis Botha. Robin Lamplough in his article 'In search of Mr Botha'
Natalia 12, Dec. 1982, pp. 27-34) confirms Janie Malherbe's statement that the
name derives from Captain Cornelis Botha, the first harbour master of Durban and
later keeper of the halfway house at the foot of what became known as Botha's Hill.
Another is Mr Dick's repetition of the frequently quoted erroneous information
that George Cato was granted Cato Manor for his loyalty to the British Government
when the Boers besieged Captain Smith's garrison in 1842. The reward for services
rendered that Cato was ultimately given in 1860 was freehold title to the 2 064-acre
farm Newark on the Tugela.
If Who was who in Durban's street names goes into a second edition it would be
fitting if Feilden Drive and Feniscowles (now incorrectly spelt Fenniscowles) Road
were included. The splendid record of life in early Durban as recorded in Eliza
Feilden' My African home makes her worthy of recognition. So too is her close
friend Melesina Bowen after whom two streets are named.
Considering the amount of research that Mr Dick must have done in the Don
Africana Library, it will, I am sure, interest him to know that Maze Road was so
named because it led directly into the main gates of David and Marie Don's home
93 Book Reviews and Notices
'The Maze'. The gracious house still stands and today is part of St Henry's College,
at 210 South Ridge Road.
With so many street names intimately connected with Empire, it is interesting to
note the inclusion of Gandhi Square. Perhaps this can be a point of departure for the
Durban of the future? It can only be hoped that in this era of negotiated settlements
there will be fewer generals and wars to commemorate.
Who was who in Durban street names is a lively and informative read.
Select List ofRecent
KwaZulu-Natal Publications
(Publications reviewed elsewhere in Natalia 28 do not appear in this list)
ALLAN, David. Birding in southern KwaZulu-Natal. Durban: Durban Natural
Science Museum, 1998.
BANCROFT, James W. The terrible night at Rorke's Drift. Johannesburg:
Jonathan Ball, 1997. ISBN 1-86842-045-0 (First published in 1898)
CUBBIN, Tony. A history of Richards Bay. Vol. 3 of Zululand Annals. The
Zululand Historical Society. R40,00
DEALING with white collar crime. Durban: Business against Crime, KwaZulu­
Natal, [19981
DORNING. Denise N. Chimneys in the clouds: an overviel1' of the historic
buildings in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, 184511925. Howick: Brevitas, 1997.
ISBN 1-87497-611-2
DUBE, John Langalibalele and Dube, Nokutela. A Zulu song book: facsimile reprint
of Amagama abantu, with modernised version edited, translated and
transcribed into staff notation by David Rycroft. Durban: Killie Campbell
Library, 1996. (Colin Webb Natal and Zululand series: No. 7). ISBN 0-86980­
celebrate the 22nd International Ornithological Congress, Durban, 1998.
Durban: the Library Services, 1998.
GARDNER, Mary. Leap offaith: St. John's DSG, 1897-1997. Pietermaritzburg: St.
John's School, 1997. ISBN 0-620-21842-8
GRIEG, John Comrie and Goode, Douglas. The cycad collection. Vo!. 1, Natal
Province. Caversham: Caversham Press, 1998 (Collectors' item full colour,
RI2,500: part colour R5,500)
HARRlS, Craig. E a r ~ v Natal and a settler family: the Vincents. 1850 to the present:
a genealogical review. Pinetown: the Author, [1997?]
KAPFF, Vii von. Zulu 'people of heaven ': witchcraft, how to behave. love life,
histor.v: everything you should know. Umhlanga Rocks: Holiday Africa
Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-620-20663-2
Selected List ofRecent KwaZulu-Natal Publications
KOK. Pietec Ndhlovu, Baby and O'Donovan, Michael, editors. Development
indicators for promoting good governance in KwaZulu-Natal. Vol. 1, research
findings. Pretoria: HSRC Printers, 1997. ISBN 0-7969-1865-1
MBALL Charlotte. Durban connections. London: Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-333­
MEEK Fatima. The (mis)trial of Andrew Zondo. Durban: Institute for Black
Research/Madiba Publishers, 1998
PATEL Zarina. The planning of Cato A1anor: lessons for the sustainable
recon.s'truction of South African cities. Durban: Centre for Social and
Development Studies. University of Natal, 1996 (CSDS research report. No.
8). ISBN 1-86840-194-4
PLA YER. Ian. Zulu wilderness: shadow and soul. Cape Town: David Phi lip, 1997.
ISBN 0-86486-340-3
RADFORD, Dennis. The l\4aritzburg cottage: a ~ " m / ( J y ofits architecture and context
from 1850 to 1910. Durban: National Monuments Council: School of
Architecture, University of Natal, 1997
TA YLOK lames. Polela days. Underberg: the Author, [19977]
ZUNGU. Andreas Z. Usukabekhuluma and the Bhambatha rebellion / translated by
A.C.T. Mayekiso. Durban: CSSALL, University of Durban-Westville, 1997
(South African Literature translation series, No. 1). ISBN 0-947445-35-8
Notes on contributors
NEIL ADCOCK is a businessman and former South African test cricketer.
TONY BARRETT is a former professor of education at the University of Natal,
DR JOHN BENYON is a professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the
University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
JOHN BISHOP is sports editor of The Natal Witness.
DR ANDREW DUMINY is a former professor of history at the University of Natal,
DR DAI HERBERT is senior curator in the Department of Malacology at the Natal
DR BILL GUEST is a professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the
University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
DR ROBERT HOME is reader in planning in the School of Surveying at the
University of East London, Dagenham, Essex.
DR EL WYN JENKINS is emeritus professor of English at Vista University, and a
member of the National Place Names Committee.
ROBERT PAPINI is research officer of the Durban Local History Museums.
DR DENNIS RADFORD is professor and head of the Department of Architecture at
the University of Natal, Durban.
BRIAN SPENCER is principal librarian of the Don Africana Library, Durban.
GA VIN WHITELAW is head of the Department of Archaeology in the Natal
PHYLLIS 1. NONHLANHLA ZUNGU is professor of Zulu at the University of

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