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President Cr Miss P. A. Reid
Vice-Presidents Dr J. Clark
M. J. C. Daly, Esq.
A. C. Mitchell, Esq.
Trustees A. C. iMitchell, Esq.
Dr R. E. Stevenson
M. J. C. Daly, Esq.
Treasurers Messrs Dix, Boyes & Co.
Auditors Messrs Thomton-Dibb, van der Leeuw
& Partners
Chief Librarian A. S. C. Hooper
Secretary P. C. G. McKenzie
Elected Members Cr Miss P. A. Reid (Chairman)
Dr F. C. Friedlander (Vice-Chairman)
R. Owen, Esq.
Mrs S. Evelyn-Wright
W. G. Anderson, Esq.
F. Martin, Esq., M.E.C.
A. D. S. Rose, Esq.
R. S. Steyn, Esq.
S. N. Roberts, Esq.
J. M. Sellers, Esq.
Editor J. M. Sellers, Esq.
J. M. Deane, Esq.
T. B. Frost, Esq.
W. R. Guest, Esq.
Miss M. P. Moberly
Mrs. S. P. M. Spencer
Miss J. Farrer (Hon. Sec.)
Natalia 8 (1978) Copyright © Natal Society Foundation 2010
Cover Picture
Dabulamanzi, brother of Cetshwayo - a contemporary illustration selected to typify a
Zulu commander of the period.
SA ISSN 0085 3674
Printed by The Natal Witness (Ply) Ltd.
A Zulu Boy's Recollections of the Zulu War ­
Edited by C. de B. Webb 6
Pre-Shakan age-group formation among the north­
ern Nguni - John B. Wright . 22
Lines of Power - The High Commissioner, the
Telegraph and the War of 1879 - C. de B. Webb 31
Isandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul ­
J. A. Benyon 38
Saving the Queen's Colour - J. A. Verbeek 46
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War Frank
Emery 54
Ethnomusicology and its relationship to some as­
pects of music in Cetshwayo's time - P. Weinberg 61
C. T. Binns 69
Durban, February 1879 71
M. P. Moberly 72
J. Farrer 88
J. Farrer
Dr. John Clark
Now that Dr John Clark has vacated the editorial chair of Natalia, which
he held from 1976 to 1977. we should like to acknowledge our gratitude to
him for what he did to maintain the high standard of the issues for which
he was responsible. Natalia Nos. 6 and 7 bore the imprint of Dr Clark's great
interest in the history of Natal and in the people who made it. A native of
Scotland, he has done a great deal to add to the historical knowledge of the
land of his adoption. As Editor, he certainly exemplified these words of
Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns:
"A chield's amang you takin' notes,
And faith he'll prent it."
It was John Milton, in his sonnet addressed "To the Lord General Crom­
well", who declared that
". . . . peace hath her victories no less renowned
than war:"
Thus, in this edition of Natalia, which is devoted very largely to aspects
of the Anglo-Zulu War, the centenary of which will be commemorated in
1979, it is fitting that we should include articles dealing not only with the
heroic events of that war itself, but also with broader yet relevant aspects.
It is hoped that some of them will stimulate further research, and open up
new avenues of academic endeavour. The reader will see that the material
included ranges from an interesting and rare account by a Zulu youth of
incidents which occurred during the campaign. to a study of the war on
the scale which Shakespeare in Macbeth referred to as "the imperial theme".
This war, one of many fought during the era of the so-called "New
Imperialism", had far-reaching results, and created widespread public
interest in Britain mainly because of the character of the Zulu people them­
selves. Furthermore, the war and its outcome had profoundly complicating
effects on the foreign policy of the British Prime Minister of the day,
Benjamin Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield). This is seen in a revealing comment
by Sir Henry Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's Private Secretary, in a letter to
her dated 1st September, 1879:
"Lord Beaconsfield has always been impatient of ill success and this Zulu
War has interfered so seriously with his European action that it is not
surprising that he should be so bitter about it. . . . . ."
By April of the following year he had ceased to be the Queen's Prime
The articles in this issue of Natalia are not limited to the strictly historical
facets. The aim has been to enlarge the range of topics in order to widen
readers' horizons. The essays represent the fruits of careful research in a
variety of fields and reflect, ina measure, a multi-disciplinary approach to
the fascinating history and culture of our country, and of Natal in particular.
If this commemorative edition of Natalia enables its readers to gain a fuller
knowledge and a deeper understanding of the land and its people, then it
will have made the work of its contributors and that of the Editorial Com­
mittee worth while.
A Zulu Boy's Recollections of
the Zulu War
1979 will be a year of pilgrimage to the battlefields of Zululand. Visitors
to Isandhlwana will hear of the 1 800 men of Chelmsford's centre column,
whose fight for life against an encircling Zulu army left its imprint on the
stark landscape. At nearby Rorke's Drift, they will be shown the site,
marked out with stones, where 200 men of the invading force withstood the
assault of 3 000 Zulu, and found amongst themselves such resources of
courage that eleven of the beleaguered company were awarded the Victoria
Cross. Moving on to Ulundi, the visitor will walk down paths hedged by
Christ-thorn, and pace out the positions from which 5000 British troops
unleashed a storm of shot and shell that overwhelmed the Zulu army. And
should the itinerary include visits to Fugitives' Drift, Inyezane, Intombe
River, Kambula, Hlobane, Gingindhlovu, Eshowe, the tales of daring, folly
and devotion will multiply.
From battlefield to battlefield the detail will differ. But always the action
will be relived from the positions held by the British forces. The central
figures in each case will be men bearing names such as Durnford, Pulleine,
Chard, Bromhead, Melvill, Coghill, Pearson, Moriarty, Wood and Buller.
There will be no comparable particularity about the course of the action
as it unfolded within the Zulu lines; nor will there be much detail about
the captains and heroes who filled the field on their side. Most of the
listeners, engrossed in what they are hearing, probably will not notice.
But some, perhaps, will. And if they do, they may recall the two engraved
tablets which they were shown within the precincts of the monument at
Ulundi-one recording the names, initials and ranks of the officers and men
under Chelmsford's command who were killed in the action; the other,
devoid of all detail, bearing the inscription: 'In memory of the brave
warriors who fell here in 1879 in defence of the old Zulu order.'
This imbalance in what is known and recounted of the war of 1879 is,
to some extent, unavoidable. In piecing together the story of the struggle,
the historian has at his disposal vast quantities of documents that tell of
the doings of the invaders--official despatches and memoranda, notes,
diaries, memoirs, field-sketches, photographs, newspaper reports, private
letters. But no comparably rich and varied resources are available for the
other side. The imbalance, nevertheless, need not be as gross as it is:
documentation about what was happening beyond the British lines survives,
and does so in larger quantities than is commonly supposed. The con­
troversy and interest which the war aroused led polemicists and publicists
to gather information about it from every possible source; and in doing
so, they recorded statements of Zulu participants ranging in rank from
humble commoners to the exiled king himself.
Much of this material is less readily accessible, and also less easily
7 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
interpreted and synthesised, than the records of the invaders. But it is
the historian's responsibility to seek it out; for the story of the war must
remain unnecessarily distorted until all the available evidence, no matter
how intractable, has been critically examined and assessed.
The little piece that follows is one of these 'forgotten' sources. Based on
testimony gathered by George H. Swinny of the Kwa Magwaza mission, it
was first published in 1884 along with a companion piece on Cetshwayo's
restoration to Zululand in 1883. The publishers were George Bell and Sons
of York Street, Covent Garden; and the title of the volume was A Zulu
Boy's Recollections of the Zulu War and of Cetshwayo's Return. The book
is now extremely rare. Only four copies have been traced in South Africa;
and it is not listed in the bibliographies appended to any recently published
works on Natal and Zulu history.
In itself it does not rank as a document of major historical importance;
but very few individual items ever do. Its value lies in the insights which
it provides into the impact of the war on the lives of ordinary Zulu. For
while it tells, at second hand, of the major military engagements, it also
tells of other things: of the disruption caused to family life; of the move­
ments of refugee herd-boys, attempting to survive with their stock in a
country in turmoil; and of some of the inner tensions and latent feuds
within the Zulu body politic.
In the reprint that follows, editorial intervention has been limited to
two activities: the revision of clumsy punctuation; and the provision of
supplementary notes. The latter are indicated by raised numerals, whereas
Swinny's notes are indicated, as in the original 1884 edition, by numerals
in parentheses set on the line of print. One further change must be
mentioned: in the original, the Zulu text recorded by Swinny was printed
alongside his English translation; here, only the English version is given.
With these adjustments, Swinny's 'Zulu Boy' tells his story again as he
did almost a hundred years ago.
C. de B. WEBB
A Zulu Boy's Recollections of
the Zulu War
The Zulu boy at home.-An unscrupulous trader.-A disagreeable
Surprise.-The biter bit.
I was born at Isandhlwana. the people called my name Umsweanto (the
beggar). I lived on there till I grew up. I herded the calves together with
the other boys. They bullied me. On one occasion we went out to steal
something to eat. sweet cane (1). We feasted continuously. I and Umdeni
and the big boys. On another occasion we reported this, I and Umdeni.
We reported it at home. The big boys thrashed us at the watercourse. They
said we were never to 'sneak' again. We, I can tell you, let it alone; we
never reported it any more. Thus we robbed the gardens of the people.
After a time I ceased to herd the calves; I herded very many sheep and
goats. Once, as we were sitting by the watercourse, early in the afternoon,
it became quite dark; it grew light, however, again very soon. We cried, I
and Umdeni. As soon as it grew light we went home, and stayed there.
I herded the sheep at all times, and Umdeni herded the cattle. The sheep
gave me much trouble; I cried heartily. Thus I herded them, some being
killed and others remaining (with these cattle were bought), until it was
said that the white men were coming. Our people said, CO! what do the
little bits of a rag(2) think to do? We shall do for it utterly!'
I went [one day] to the sheep; we saw a wagon outspanned by the road­
side; we sat there. Forthwith the white man seized me, and, mounting
into the wagon, bound me with the whip. I wriggled out, however, and
ran away. Next he seized our brother. Our brother (his name is Ungwemu)
seized him, and just scratched his hands till they were red. He was a low
fellow that white man. He was confounded; he lamented a little. Presently
his people [lit. the people of their father] cooked their food-it was porridge,
poor stuff, too; they ate and the white man ate with them-he grabbed
like fun. [Our people] all laughed at him, crying, 'Just look at this low
fellow, eating with his Kafirs!'(3) I fled for my part. He gave chase to me.
I distanced him. I abused him to the utmost of my power. Then I turned
homewards; I went to get something to eat. I got home. I just ate. I
remained at home. We stayed there; we slept.
At early dawn Umdeni and I went out with the cattle. We went out
also to them at midday. But the sheep ate up a garden. We collected a lot
of stones. We said, 'These are our cattle.' We just herded them, rejoicing.
All of a sudden appeared Matuta, Umdeni's father, armed with a stick. We
9 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
fled at top speed. I yelled when he was yet a long way off. I cried, 'Maye babo!'
there being no one to warn a fellow and sing out, 'You're dead!' He chased
Umdeni. I ran, for my part, as hard as I could pelt. He came up with
Umdeni; he thrashed him. Umdeni howled heartily. He shouted after me
did Matuta, crying, 'I say, you little barrel-headed rascal! (4) Come and
have a look at me!' I left him in the rear, and fled on continually.
At another time we played with the water belonging to an old woman.
The old woman drove us away. We said, 'O! You are not swift enough
to overtake us!' We frisked about, kicking up our heels; we waggled our
heads; we made various noises with our mouths. We said, 'Run! Let's see
you!' Said the old woman, 'Eventide will gather ye together, children of
my child! Look you!' That was because I had my meals there. I returned
in the afternoon. The girls called to me, saying, 'Come and eat, Umsweanto!'
I sat down. I ate, I ate. I then took the kids, and tied them up. Then I ate
the flesh of other kids that had been killed (Umdeni being in his mother's
hut). I was satisfied; I was completely filled. The old woman was just
there in her hut, and I, not considering that a while ago I had troubled
her, entered, together with Umdeni. We sat down; we just played in her
hut. Suddenly the old woman seized me. Umdeni bolted and fled. She
pinched me continuously. The girls laughed. I besought her. I besought
her, saying, 'Never will I do it any more!' I made a solemn promise. She
let me go. But the next day, early in the morning, many boys arrived.
I was stimulated by them. We played at home. We took the old woman's
dry mud(5) [for cooking]. She was furious. She said, 'I'll lay it into you!'
We said, 'O! So you're possessed of speed, are you?' Said the old woman,
'You shall see me (6) with your eyes - you, I mean, who carry those little
ears of yours so bravely!' We ran away. We returned in the afternoon.
I went again to the hut of the old woman, carrying a kid. I put it down
and tied it up. I entered into her hut. At once the old woman seized me,
Tno longer thinking any more about the matter. I yelled with a loud voice,
I cried, 'Maye babb!' I then betook me to laughing a little before she laid
into me. She then closed the doorway. She took a blanket. She made me
'the wild beast of the blanket.'(7) She put my head into the blanket. She
bit my head [all over]. I besought her; I besought her. She let me go, and
gave me some food. I laughed at her. She hunted me out saying, 'Off
with you! Go home!' I went out. I went home, and stayed there. I gave
it over; never again did I trouble her any more. I was very civil to her,
and she for her part was very civil to me. The matter of the old woman
is now ended.
Invasion of Zululand.-AfJair with Sihayo's people.-Flight of
Zulu women and children from Isandhlwana.-A Zulu regiment
on the march.-Defeat of Matshana's people.
The news came [one day] that the white men had already arrived. It was
then said that they were at Mr Fynn's. (8) Our people were somewhat
alarmed. They said, 'Let the youngsters run away and go to Emahlabatini:
The white men reached the Buffalo River. It was said that they had come
to fight with the Zulus.
A Zulu Boy's Recollections
Soon they fought with the people of Sihayo, who were few in number.
These were all killed; some however survived. They for their part killed
a few white men and [black] men toO.2
O! We scampered away, [we young ones]. We went to Malagata." It was
next said that the white men were coming to Malagata. Some said, 'It is
good that homage be paid to the white men.' Said our father, 'Whosoever
desires to do homage, it is good that he be off, and go and do homage [to
them].' Our father went away with his men. Others deserted him and did
homage. We pushed on, [we children and women]. We came to Esipezi
and halted there.
We stayed there for a few days. Then went forth the
spies and Mtembu with them, having seen some soldiers in our neighbour­
hood. We made off as fast as we could. We rested for a short time, we boys.
Umali was lost. O! We lamented, we boys. We said, 'Perhaps we shall be
killed [i.e. thrashed] because we have left him behind!' All of a sudden
he was found. We pushed on continually. We reached the Umhlatusi river.
It was rumoured that the Usutus(9) were coming up, and [sure enough] in
the afternoon there appeared through the fog the Bongoza regiment. j They
saw the many sheep belonging to our father and other people. Up came
the 'horned'(lO) Usutus and said, 'A bit of food for us, this, master!' They
stabbed some of the sheep; they drained our calabashes; they took the [dead]
sheep away with them. Suddenly one of the warriors espied an exceedingly
fine kid. He seized it. Our father [uncle] seized it, and the warrior seized
it too. The next moment up came the indunas [officers] and scolded the
regiment. The men ran off and continued their march. We went on. We
came to a kraal and stayed there. We happened upon five warriors. They
were just starting off in the early morning, it being very cold indeed. One
of them was chilled with the cold; he had no longer any power to get along
.quickly. [When] he arrived at the kraal he was exceedingly cold. He
warmed himself at the fire. The others derided him. They said, 'It is not(1)
a young man of any worth. It is just cold for no reason at all!' With that
they killed many sheep. We started early in the morning; we removed from
thence and came to a[nother] kraal. We stayed there one day. We left at
dawn, and went on to Equdeni.6
All the warriors had by that time gone off to the army. We came to a
kraal; we stayed there a long time. We heard it said that the people of
Matshana, the son of Mondisa, had just been slaughtered, every one of
The eclipse of January 22, 1879.-The commencement of the
battle of Isandhlwana.-Colonel Dum/ord's natives stir up the
Zulu army.-Usikota, a refugee brother of Cetshwayo and his
tribe, allies of the English.-The English camp rushed.-Indivi­
dual acts of heroism on the British side.
After a few days it came to pass that the sun was darkened; there was
silence-an utter silence-throughout the land. Nevertheless the army was
fighting at Isandhlwana. Then, after a day or so, there arrived some of our
11 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
people who had come out from the host, being sent by our father to fetch
away the cattle and the folk that they might return home. They said, 'There
have died many white men and Iziqosa [Natal Zulus] also.
They told us that the army had been encamped on the Ingqutu range,
the moon being dead and they not wishing to fight. (When the moon is
dead, it is called a black day, there is no fighting.) Up came the Amangwana
[Durnford's natives];" and opened fire upon the host, stirring them up. At
once they [i.e. Durnford's natives] found themselves in the close embrace
of the Kandempemvu [a Zulu regiment)1° even as tobacco [is united] with
aloes (12). The Zulu generals forbad [an advance], seeking to help the
white men. But the regimental officers simply mutinied. They marched
forward; they went into the battle. They [i.e. the combatants] were rolled
along together towards Isandhlwana. They [i.e. the Zulus] killed some
[of Durnford's natives]; the rest fled. Yes indeed, and the soldiers too were
alarmed; they endeavoured to concert some plan, but they were unable to
do anything to any purpose, being now in a state of nervous apprehension,
and powerless to know what they should do. They lay down upon the
ground. They fired terribly. They fired terribly, until they were weary.
The Zulus lay down for a little time, then started up [and ran forward],
lying down again according to their custom. Then shouted Undhlaka from
the Amatutshane hil1(13) and cried, 'Never did his Majesty the King give
you this command, to wit, "Lie down upon the ground!'" His words were:
'Go! and toss them into Maritzburg!' Up started the warriors, but again
they lay down, being endangered by the bullets. The soldiers hoped and
said, 'Perhaps we have now killed them all.' But again the warriors arose,
seeking to approach closely to the wagons. (The cannon were useless in
their fire upon an enemy that was now close at hand.)
There fought also the Iziqosa tribe-long ago the lziqosa were van­
quished(1 4). There was present too Usikota,l1 brother of Cetshwayo(15);
he saw the Zulu army coming up and cried, CO! Not for me! I'm off!
I know those fellows over there. It is just "Coming, come' with them. They
are not to be turned aside by any man, and here are we sitting still for all
the world like a lot of turkeys!' Then he called to his brother, 'Away! let's
away, Ungabangaye, let's make a run for it!' Said Ungabangaye, 'Oh stop
a moment just till I see them tackled by the white men!' 'O!' cried Usikota,
'A pleasant stay to you!' He seized his horse and bolted. He escaped
through the 'neck,' before the 'impi' encircled the [campV2 Up came the
Zulu army and made an end of Ungabangaye. And the soldiers themselves
were overpowered.
Some seized their rifles and smashing them upon the rocks hurled them
[at their foes]. They helped one another too; they stabbed with the bayonet
those who sought to kill their comrades. Some covered their faces with their
hands [lit. closed their eyes], not wishing to see death. Some ran away.
Some entered into the tents. Others were indignant; although badly wounded
they died where they stood, at their post.
We were told also that there was a soldier at lsandhlwana who carried a
flag. He just waved it backwards and forwards. He fought not; he feared
not (perhaps he put his trust in other soldiers). They killed him. We were
told also that there was present a son of Somseu(16). He fought very
bravely. He killed [some of] our people. The others feared to approach
12 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
him. Suddenly there dashed in our brother Umtweni before he could load,
and killed him.13 But that young fellow died at Hlobane. Our father too
fought at Isandhlwana, carrying a black and white shield (17). They shot
at him; they hit it. He cast it away from him; he just fought on with
assegais and rifle only.
The return of Lord Chelmsford to the camp.-An unseen spec­
tator.-Bivouac of the troops on the battlefield.-An unexpected
rencontre in the morning with a detachment of the Zulu army.­
The fight at Rorke's Ddft.-Zulu opinions of the action.-Why
the Zulus did not invade N ata/.
By occasion of the battle our father obtained some sheep at Isandhlwana.
He killed them; he cooked for his mother at home, for his kraal was close
at hand. Forthwith he climbed up a hill: he saw some white men, greatly
dejected, marching towards Isandhlwana. They were silent, utterly silent.
They were marching in line.
Presently they fired in the direction of Isandhlwana (father being just
hidden you see, close to them). They fired, they fired-all was still. They
drew near to lsandhlwana. They saw a large flag beneath the hill: it just
stood there, hanging from its staff. They shouted aloud. They said 'Hurrah!'
They took it away. They lay there at Isandhlwana for the night; but they
did not lie asleep. 14
At dawn, rising very early, they encountered a band of Zulus, just a few
in number. Forthwith the [people] who served the white men shouted to
them (the soldiers uttering not a word) saying, 'Where do you come from?'
They replied, 'We come from the other side of the river there-away.' 'You
are telling lies!'(18) said the others. The black men wanted to fight with
them-those Zulus; but the commander of the troops forbad it. So they
just went on their way. 15
On the day of the fight at Isandhlwana the sun was darkened until it
declined. The Zulus thought much of the soldiers who fought at Isan­
dhlwana: they fought bravely; they did not burrow to enter within and hide.
As for the Mbozankomo regiment
they merely remained at the Ingwebini
river(19). They danced, they just ate meat merrily. Presently they said,
'O! Let's go and have a fight at Jim's!'(20) The white men had by this time
made their preparations; they were quite ready. The Zulus arrived at Jim's
house. They fought, they yelled, they shouted, 'It dies at the entrance! (21)
It dies in the doorway! It dies at the entrance! It dies in the doorway!' They
stabbed the sacks; they dug with their assegais. They were struck; they
died. They set fire to the house. It was no longer fighting: they were now
exchanging salutations merely. (We were told this by Umunyu who was
The Mbozankomo regiment was finished up at Jim's-shocking cowards
they were too. Our people laughed at them, some said, 'You! You're no
men! You're just women, seeing that you ran away for no reason at all.
Hke the wind!' Others jeered and said, 'You marched off. You went to dig
A Zulu Boy's Recollections
little bits with your assegais out of the house of Jim, that had never done
you any harm!'
The Zulus had no desire to go to Maritzburg. They said, 'There are
strongholds there.' They thought that they should perish and come utterly
to an end if they went there.
The author, in company with other Zulu boys, visits the field of
Isandhlwana four days after the battle.-The captured cannon
are removed from the field.-Drawn battle between Sihayo's
army and General Wood's column at Ezungeni.-Surprise of the
Prince Imperial and his party.-The affair at the Hlobane moun­
tain.-Defeat of the English.-The battle of Hlobane (Kam­
bula).-The trooper Grandier in the hands of the Zulus.-Cetsh­
wayo asks a hard question.
We started; we returned to Isandhlwana. We arrived early in the morning.
We saw the soil that it was red, the sun shining very brightly. We walked
out after a short time. We went to see the dead people at Isandhlwana.
We saw a single warrior dead, staring in our direction, with his war shield
in his hand. We ran away. We came back again. We saw countless things
dead. Dead was the horse, dead too, the mule, dead was the dog, dead was
the monkey, dead were the wagons, dead were the tents, dead were the
boxes, dead was everything, even to the very metals. We took some thread
for sewing and a black pocket-book; we played with the boxes; we took
the tent ropes and played with them. We thought to return home. As for
Umdeni he took some biscuit, but I and my brother declined. We said, 'We
don't like them.' We went off, they carrying them. We moved out of sight
of the place where they(22) were. We asked for some. Said Umdeni, CO! we
don't choose, for you said you didn't like them.' We retorted, CO! sit there,
!if you please, with your little bits of bread smelling of people's blood!'
This we said, being with envy. We then returned home.
At daylight we came back again. We saw some boys who had died in a
tree, [lying] underneath it. They were dressed in black clothes. We saw
white men dead (they had taken off their boots, all of them), and the people
also who had served them, and fought with them, and some Zulus, but not
many. We saw Mtembu's wagon, laden with the cannon, going to the kraal
of his father, Klass. We went home again.
Once more we returned, I and my brother, the two of us. I took some
boots for my part, and a satchel. I put on the black boots. Our brother also
took some boots. He sat in a wagon and put them on. But no sooner had
we put on the boots, than the people shouted from home and cried, 'You're
dead! Look at the army there away!' We undid the boots; they refused.
We burst them. We flung away our satchels. Our brother threw his [boots]
away in a moment. I-I was a long time in taking mine off; he forsook me.
I got mine off after a short time. I tore along with the utmost speed; I
overtook our brother, and leaving him behind in my turn, arrived first at
home. The people said, 'There is no army.' I took a new pair of brown
14 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
trousers; I went away with them. We set off; we fled on without stopping.
The men, however, remained at home. Once some white men arrived at
Isandhlwana. The men shouted out, seeing people at Isandhlwana, saying,
'You will be trodden under foot! '(23) The white men fled. There were four
of them. We went on to the Umhlatusi.
The white men tried very hard to cross [the Buffalo] near Jim's house,
but the people of Sihayo would not have it, and prevented them. Hereupon
the white men crossed higher up at Encome.17 It was now decided that the
army of Sihayo should fight at EzungenU8 So the Ubisi tribe
It fought for a long time, but it was beaten, and the white men were beaten
too. The armies just looked at one another. A few white men died; there
died of the Zulus a few also.
Now, as we were told it, the story goes that while some Zulus were lying
in ambush in the long grass near Ezungeni (they were but few) some white
men arrived at the kraal, there being no one there. They put their guns
down under [the wall of] the cattle kraal. Some of them went into a hut,
the sun being scorchingly hot; others sat in the doorway. One went off to
water the horses. The officer sat in the doorway armed with a long sword.
Suddenly the Zulus sprang into view. The white men sung out, 'Good
day, (24) young fellow!' but the Zulus took not the least notice of that. The
white men made a rush, seeking to get hold of their guns, but their strength
failed them. They were killed. There escaped only one, the one who was
with the horses. The horses galloped away. They followed the man who
was mounted. He saved his life. Our people took the officer's sword and
carried it to Cetshwayo. They said, 'A beautiful sword, indeed.'
We remained at the Umhlatusi river until the fighting(25) at Ezungeni
came to an end and a march was made to Hlobane.
A very large [Zulu]
army was lying in the vicinity of Hlobane. The white men climbed to the
top of Hlobane in the afternoon during the rain.
Then came one of
Umzila's(26) men by night to the army,23 and cried, 'To arms! The white
men have even now climbed up to the summit of Hlobane!' Then Usihayo,
too, called out, 'To arms!' With that he went off to speak with the great
captains, Untshingwayo and Umnyamana.
They, seeking to assist the
white men, said, 'O! Not a bit of it! The army shall fight to-morrow.'
Accordingly orders were given that the Abaqulusi
(i.e. Umzila's army) be
told to sit still, the [great] captains being unwilling.
But the Abaqulusi mutinied, and uniting with the Kandempevu regiment
(the hail-catchers), surrounded the mountain. They got at a few white men;
the rest ran away and escaped.
The white men captured many cattle and sent them off immediately into
Natal. The warriors were on the point of putting Umnyamana to death,
because he helped the white men and did not love Cetshwayo. But almost
immediately the Zulus were defeated. Thus they let Umnyamana alone.
The next day a battle was fought at the stronghold!6 A good number of
white men died, but the Zulus were beaten; great numbers of them perished.
So the Zulus marched away and returned to Emahlabatini. They say that
the [English] soldiers were greatly assisted by two monkeys at Hlobane;
they [i.e. the monkeys] shot down numbers of people.
It is said that a white man was taken prisoner at Hlobane at the time of
the engagement and carried off to Cetshwayo. Sihayo spoke with him in the
A Zulu Boy's Recollections
white men's tongue, for Sihayo was slightly acquainted with the white men's
Said Cetshwayo, 'What am I just being destroyed for?' The white man
replied, 'I don't know.' Cetshwayo said, 'Don't let them kill him.' He had
mercy on him. It was then ordered that he should be taken to Umzila,
who was as clever as Sihayo.72
The guerilla chief Umbelini.-British reverse at Intombi
River(?)-Umbelini and two companions engage a party of
British troops.-Death of Umbelini.-Dabulamanzi attacks a
patrol at the White Umfolosi.-The Zulu generals Umnyamana
and Untshingwayo play into the hands of the English.-The
battle of Ulundi.-A Zulu hero.-The hedge of steel.
Now a son of Sihayo dwelt with Umzila (Umbokode was his name). They
worried the white men; they worried terribly the soldiers who spied out
the army. On one occasion Umzila went out with his army and worried the
soldiers by night. He chased away some of them; he killed them; he took
away their cattle.
His people went on ahead, driving the cattle [homewards]. The whole
army went on ahead of him. Himself remained behind together with a son
of Sihayo and one of the officers of his household. They thought to return
home. They caught sight of some soldiers (there were a good many of
them) lying down, holding their horses [i.e. bridles] with their arms, for
they had by this time learned a device of the Zulu people, viz., to lie down
at the time of fighting. Umzila tried a shot; he fired. He hit a white man,
and the white men they too opened a hot fire. Thus, it was said, he kept
hitting the white men. He out with [a bullet] and in with it into the flesh;
out with [a bullet] and in with it into the flesh-always.
But after a time the white men slew the son of Sihayo. Umzila fought
on alone with his steward. They hit Umzila too. He fled, he and his
steward mounting their horses. He went away home did Umzila, being
badly wounded. He arrived. He died at home. His steward-he was
uninjured. 28
We moved away for our part. We went to Emahlabatini. the troops being
now at Emtonjaneni.29 Some of the soldiers went forth. They went to
scout. They reached the Umfolosi. They went [down] and began just to
bathe in the river. Suddenly Dabulamanzi appeared and fired at them.30
Those who had their clothes on drove him away. He fled. He left them in
the rear, because his horse was fleeter than the horses of the soldiers. The
soldiers were foiled because their horses do not understand how to travel
among stones.
Now it came to pass after a short time, that the Zulus sought to surround
the soldiers at Emtonjaneni. The great captains [however] forbad it. those.
that is, of the highest rank, to wit. Umnyamana. and Untshingwayo the
son of Maholi, the generals at Ondini, desiring above all things to help the
white men.
Orders were given that the warriors should just sit still, they
[i.e. the great captains] saying, 'Let the spirits of our ancestors bring it [i.e.
A Zulu Boy's Recollections
the English army] here to us at home; they will be comfortably killed, the
wretched creatures!'
So after a few days the soldiers arrived at Nodwengu very early in the
morning with their cannon.32 They fired, and the Zulus too fought, and
fired with might and main. The battle raged for a long time. But at the
time of the climbing up of the sun the Zulu army fled. 33
Our father-they shot at him. He entered into a hole. He stayed there
a little time. He arose and fled. Our brother too was present. He was an
officer. He carried a breech-loading rifle that he had taken at Isandhlwana
from his [rivals]. The Zulu army fled. He got tired of running away. He
was a man too who understood well how to shoot. He shouted, 'Back again!'
He turned and fired. He struck a horse; it fell among the stones and the
white man with it. All the white men turned upon him. They fired at him.
They killed him.
Report says (27) that there was metal-iron sheeting-which protected
the white men. The Zulus hit it. It resounded with a sharp clang. The
white soldiers kept continually just overflowing [from behind it] till they
drew near and swept away with it [i.e. the Zulu army),3"
Also another brother of ours told me that they saw a white man (on foot)
vanish into a water course. They ran; they pursued him, seeking to kill him.
The white man however thought to keep to the water course. He stuck
to the sandy bed, following its downward course. Soon they saw that it was
now all up with him by reason of the bands of men that were below him.
These presently began to shout, 'Aha! Our numbers! Now we have done
for him!' They killed him. Some of the [beaten] Zulus entered into the
water. The white men fired at them but failed to hit them, because they
Flight of Zulu women and children to lnhlazatshe.-Zulu boys
playing at war in eamest.-English overtures of peace to the
Zulus.-Termination of hostilities.-Cetshwayo taken prisoner.
-Causes which led to his fall.-Amehlo kaZulu, son of Sihayo,
gives himself up.-The author returns home with his people to
I sandhlwana.
Soon we saw a very great smoke.
01 We flung away the clothes which we
had taken at Isandhlwana. We thought, perhaps we shall be put in prison
by the white men on account of the clothes which we are wearing! We
went to Inhlazatshe.
We stayed there awhile. The people hated us because
we dwelt with Sihayo,37 that ferocious man; for once upon a certain occasion
he destroyed them. They hated us cordially. They thought to kill us. But
since we had a few warriors with us who guarded our cattle, they feared,
saying, 'We are not able to destroy the people of Sihayo, for they will kill
us every one!' They said we had better be off and go clean away. We
departed. They captured some sheep belonging to certain of our people,
but just the boys alone went for them, and taking them away returned with
them. I was there too and the other small boys, all of us being armed with
big stones. We went on. We reached the bush at Isihlungu, we entered
A Zulu Boy's Recollections
into a huge hyena's cave in the face of the rock; the kraals of our people
were near.38 Our party obtained food from thence. Now it came to pass
after a few days that our boys fought with the boys of another place. They
quarrelled with respect to water, for as one of our boys went to fetch some
water, the [aforesaid] boys caught sight of him, and seizing him soused
him with water. All our fellows were furious, but the other boys despised
us, saying, 'O! [you're] only babies!' Our fellows marched up from the
forest, but the big boys [of our party] were but three, together with us little
fellows. They on the other hand were all biggish boys and many in number.
Yes, and the young men of our place turned out. They said it was fitting
that we should give them a tremendous thrashing. The young men too
belonging to those boys came to behold, and the girls from those boys' place
attended also to look on. We sat down we boys, our big fellows taking
position on our flanks in order to repel the 'horns' [of the enemy's army].
Presently up they came, desiring to lay into us; but we for our parts had
devised a stratagem, to wit that the little boys should raise a hullaballoo
crying, 'Huzu! Huzu! Kweza yona! Kweza yona!' [Here it comes! Here it
comes!] They arrived. We sprang to our feet simultaneously, and yelled,
'Huzu! Huzu! Kweza yona!' We kicked up a terrific row; they fled. They
returned again, and we fought. But as for a certain boy whose name was
Usanyongo, we got him into our midst. We thrashed him terribly, the small
boys simply taking their fill of him and crying, 'Take that! And that! Here's
into you!' He sang out, 'O! Are you just thrashing me, I being all alone,
our fellows having already run away?' He broke away by a violent effort
and fled. We drove them along [like cattle] by a single path. Their sisters
wailed. There was present one of our boys, an exceedingly ferocious fellow.
We called him 'He-that-bellows-and-all-fight, the little bull of Nomatukume­
zana.' O! We worried them finely! We went forward-our young men
headed us back. We sang a triumph song proper to boys, to wit, 'We boys!
We boys! Ah! just look out for us! We boys! We boys! Ah! just look out
for us!' and, 'We are the Thrashers-till-their-sisters-cry!' We detested them
heartily. On another occasion we sat down by the river from which they
drew their water. We hindered them exceedingly. They feared to approach.
And look you, from that day to this they have never begun with us. At
another time we chased them like deer.
Now after a few days some white men arrived. They came to entreat
the people kindly. They offered a letter to them, showing it while remaining
some distance off. But our brother, arming himself with a huge assegai
(Uzimvu, his name, is a mad-cap fellow of the Kandempevu regiment) just
went to them carrying the assegai. O! but the white men didn't bargain
for that. They retreated a little on seeing the assegai. They ran the finger(28)
round and round the head, saying 'Come man!' Our people refused-the
soldiers retreated and departed. Our people followed them till they reached
the tents. There they talked with the officer in command of the troops
(The Bearded One' they called him). He gave them papers, telling them to
go to their homes and live there peaceably.
We went home. Our father went to Isandhlwana and all his people. He
returned again, our father did, to his kraal at the Umhlatusi. I and Umali
and another of our brothers stayed there for a long time together with our
father and the two girls who cooked our food.
18 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
We heard it said that they had just captured Cetshwayo, he having been
betrayed by the people."" By this time the people were sick of war. And
he too, Cetshwayo, having put numbers of them to death, they had no
longer any appetite for him; [on the contrary] they were now regarding
him with a dangerous [lit. red] eye.
He perished, remembering the saying
of a young man of Sihayo's tribe-Umtwalo by name. Long ago he killed
him. He was dancing, and Cetshwayo ordered them to leave off. But he-he
went on dancing. Said the king, 'Let him be seized.' He was seized; his
arms were twisted and bound behind his back. The order was given, 'Let
him go away and be killed.' Then said he, 'Notwithstanding that you kill
me, you shall see the white men-they will come.' And in very truth they
came. And look you; now they have it all their own way. They marched
away with Cetshwayo.
Next they proceeded to hunt Amehlo kaZulu (29), but Amehlo kaZulu
delivered himself into their hands, carrying his gun. They sought to kill
him, but they feared. The order was given, 'Let him be taken to Maritz­
burg to have his case tried.' They bound him, he being mounted on
horseback. They arrived. They were beaten by Amehlo kaZulu's case.
The order was given, 'Let him return and go to live at home with his own
people.' So he lived happily.
We returned, we and our father to Isandhlwana. I returned first,
travelling together with our brothers. I went with the many cattle of our
people. Our father came up from the Umhlatusi. Umali was weary and
our other brother too. They got home; both our brothers were tired out.
Umali recovered. Our other brother was ill for a long time; after a while
he died.
1. 'sweet cane', a plant ('imfe') the stalk of which resembles that of Indian corn
(mealies), and contains a sweet juice; the natives are very fond of chewing it.
2. "little bits of a rag", a playful allusion to the clothing of the white people.
3. 'Kafirs', a contemptuous term applied by the Zulus to the Natal natives.
4. 'barrel-headed'. The word translated here as 'barrel' really means 'a little milking
vessel', which is shaped like an elongated barrel.
5. 'dry mud', i.e. dry manure, used for heating the earthen vessel in which the native
beer ('utshwala') is brewed. This operation is always conducted out of doors. Hine
illae lachrymae! for the heap of convenient missiles is irresistible.
6. 'you shall see me', &c., a common Zulu threat.
7. 'tIhe wild beast of the blanket', apparently a 'slang' phrase. Whether it means
that the narrator was like a lion in the toils, or else that the blanket was in loco
leonis to him, is not clear to the translator.
8. 'Mr Fynn's' then the magistrate at Umsinga in Natal, some twenty-five miles from
Rorke's Drift by the waggon road.
9. 'The Usutus.' Generic name of the people of Cetshwayo. Hence the Zulu war cry
10. 'horned', referring to the 'horns' or wings of the Zulu army.
11. 'It is not,' &c. The impersonal pronoun expressing the greatest contempt.
12. ·even as tobacco,' &c. The Zulus mix burnt aloes ('umhlaba') with their snuff
('ugwai') to make it more pungent. Hence the similitude.
13. 'the Amatutshane hill', a conical hill standing alone in the plain, facing the English
camp, and about a mile from Isandhlwana hill.
14. 'long ago,' &c. 'Iziqoza' is the tribal name of the people of Umkungo and
Umbulazwi, Cetshwayo's brothers. The tribe was decimated in battle and driven
out of Zululand by Cetshwayo, Umbulazwi being slain. This was 'long ago,' i.e.
during the lifetime of Umpande, Cetshwayo's father.
A Zulu Boy's Recollections 19
15. 'Usikota.' This incident was related to Uzibana, father of the narrator, by Usikota
himself, after the conclusion of the war.
16. 'Somseu', the name given by the Zulus to Sir T. Shepstone.
17. 'carrying a black and white shield.' Only certain privileged persons were allowed
to carry shields of this colour.
18. 'you are telling lies", lit. 'you are with lies'.
19. 'the Ingwebini river,' close by Isandhlwana, on the Ingqutu range.
20. at 'Jim's'. The house at Rorke's Drift is called by the Zulus 'Kwa Jim' (at Jim's,
after the original settler, 'Jim Rorke'.
21. 'it dies at the entrance', 'it', i.e. the regiment; at the entrance 'iguma', 'little spot
fenced in with reeds before the entrance of a hut' (Colenso's Dict.).
22. they, i.e. the dead.
23. 'you will be trodden', lit. 'you have been trodden', &c.
24. 'Good day', the literal Zulu is 'We have seen you'.
25. 'the fighting', lit. 'the army'.
26. 'Umzila', better known, I think, to English readers as the 'robber-chief' Umbelini.
27. 'Report says', possibly referring to the 'hedge of steel'.
28. 'They ran the finger', &c., i.e. to signify that they wanted to speak with a 'head-ring'
man, a grown-up warrior.
29. 'Amehlo kaZulu', a son of Sihayo, whose lawless conduct is said in a great
measure to have brought on the war.
1 Emahlabatini (emaHlabathini), on the middle reaches of the White umFolozi, was.
where many of the principal royal homesteads and military settlements were estab­
2 Sihayo kaXongo, Qungebeni chief and one of Cetshwayo's principal izinduna, lived
close to the Buffalo (umZinyathi) river near Rorke's Drift. A raid by certain of his
sons to capture women who had fled into Natal was one of the 'incidents' for which
the British High Commissioner, Sir Bartle Frere, demanded reparation in the
ultimatum presented to the Zulu on 11 December 1878. The fight at Sihayo's took
place on 12 January 1879, and was the first engagement in which Chelmsford's
centre column was involved after the commencement of hostilities on 11 January.
About 30 of Sihayo's men were killed, and a large number of cattle seized by the
invaders. Chelmsford lost three men of the Natal Native Contingent. (See: Sir
Reginald Coupland, Zulu Battle Piece, London 1948, pp. 60-1)
3 Ma1agata (Malakatha) mountain lies south of Isandhlwana (isAndlwana), between
the confluence of the emaNgeni and umZinyathi rivers.
4 Esipezi (isiPhezi) mountain lies to the east of isAndlwana.
5 This is the only known reference to the 'Bongoza' regiment. Thc name may be a
corruption by Swinny of an expression referring to a contingent of armed men of
the Mpungose people, who Jived just to the south of the upper reaches of the
umHlatuze river, i.e. in the locality to which the informant and Ihis companions had
6 The Equdeni (eQudeni) hills lie in the angle formed by the confluence of the
umZinyathi and Thukela rivers.
7 Matshana (Matyana) kaMondise, Sithole chief, lived near umSinga on the Natal side
of the umZinyathi until 1858, when he fled to the Zulu kingdom after resisting arrest
by a force under J. W. Shepstone. In 1879 he was Jiving in the emaNgeni valley
south-east of isAndlwana. On January 21. the day before the battle of isAndlwana,
Chelmsford gave orders for a reconnaissance in Matshana'.s territol1:, and a skirmis!J
followed in which some 80 of Matshana's men were kIlled. It IS probably thIS
incident that is here referred to. (See: Donald R. Morris, The Washing of the Spears,
London 1966, p. 340)
8 Iziqosa {iziGqoza) was the name used to identify the supporters of Mbuyazi,
Cetshwayo's half-brother and rival in the succession dispute that came to a head
at the battle of enDondakusuka, fought near the Thukela mouth in 1856. The
triumph of Cetshwayo's uSuthu forces in that resulted in large
of iziGqoza fleeing to Natal. Thereafter, the name IZlGqoza tended to be applied
to any Zulu who had 'gone over' to the white people or had settled in Natal.
9 Amangwana may be a reference to the Natal Native mounted levy by the
ernaNgwaneni chief, Zikhali. Colonel A. W. Durnford of the Royal Engmeers was
given command of the 1st Regiment of the Natal Native Contingent, which included
Zikhali's Native Horse.
10 The Kandempemvu (uKhandempemvu) was formed c. 1868 of men born c. 1848.
11 Usikota (Sikhotha) kaMpande, a half-brother of Cetshwayo and a full brother of
the latter's rival, Mbuyazi, was one of the Tzigqoza who fled to Natal after the
battle of enDondakusuka.
20 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
12 The 'neck' refers to the col between isAndlwana and the stony hill to its south.
13 Capt. George Shepstone, fourth son of Sir T. Shepstone, was killed while trying to
keep open a line of retreat for the troops surrounded at isAndlwana. (See: R. E.
Gordon, Shepstone, Cape Town 1968,p. 279)
14 The incident here described is the return to isAndhlwana in the late evening of January
22 of Chelmsford and the troops who had been deployed to the south while the
battle was being fought. (Cf. the descriptions of this incident in Coupland,. op. cit.,
pp. 99-100, and in A. F. Hattersley, Later Annals of Natal, London 1938, pp. 148-9)
1.5 Cf. Coupland, op. cif., pp. 100-01 and 111, and Hattersley, op. cit., p. 149.
16 Mbozankomo appears to be a cognomen for the uThulwana or amaMboza regiment
(formed c. 1854 of men born c. 1834) which was part of the uNdi corps at
isAndlwana. The main body of the uNdi lagged behind the other Zulu regiments
when the battle began. During the course of the fighting, they circled around isAndl­
wana and moved on to Rorke's Drift. (See: Morris, op. cif., pp. 363 and 399-400)
17 The Encome (iNcome) river was crossed on 10 January 1879 by the left flanking
column under Brig. Gen. H. EvelYll Wood.
18 Ezungeni (eZungeni) is the most westerly of a chain of three prominent flat-topped
mountains in north-western Zululand.
10 Ubisi may be a cognomen for the amaQungebe, whose name, according to A. T.
Bryant, derived 'from the trick amongst their men of making their amaSi (sour
curds) out of other people's milk'. (See: A. T. Bryant, Olden Times in Zulu/and and
Natal, London 1929, p. 130). uBisi is the Zulu word for milk.
20 The action here referred to was probably the skirmishing of the left flanking column
under Wood, which, after encamping at Nkambule hill some 25 kilometres south­
west of Zungeru at the end of January 1879, spent much of its time harassing the
Zulu in the neighbourhood.
21 Hlobane is one of the Zungeni chain of flat-topped hills. The 'march to Hlobane'
probably refers to the advance of a large Zulu impi which Cetshwayo despatched
against Wood's column towards the end of March 1879.
22 A force under the command of Major Redvers Buller 'ascended Hlobane on the
night of 27-28 March. During the ascent there was a thunderstorm.
2:l Umzila (Mbilini) kaMswati, a Swazi prince, had settled south of the Phongolo in
the reign of Mpande. From this position he raided his Boer and Swazi neighbours.
One of Frere's demands in the ultimatum of 11 December 1879 was that Mbilini
should be surrendered for trial by the British authorities. When the war commenced,
Mbilini was joined by the sons of Sihayo, whose surrender had also been demanded
in the ultimatum. On the night of 27-28 March, the Zulu army was encamped to
the south-east of Hlobane, which was one of Mbilini's strongholds.
"I Untshingwayo (Ntshingwayo) kaMahole, Khoza chief, was one of Cetshwayo's
principal izinduna; Umnyamana (Mnyamana) kaNgqengelele, Buthelezi chief, was
Cctshwayo's premier induna.
eo During the reign of Shaka the lands in the vicinity of Hlobane had been placed
under the authority of Shaka's Junt, Mnkabayi, whose homestead was named
ebaQulusini. Thereafter, it was customary to refer to the people of the locality as
the abaQulusi.
26 The action here referred to was the battle fought at Wood's camp at Nkambule on
29 March 1879.
27 Cf. the brief account of Trooper Henri Grandier's experiences in D. Morris, op. cit.,
pp. 504-5.
"8 The narrative in the preceding paragraphs seems to be based on a conflation of two
separate incidents. The first occurred in the early hours of the morning of 12 March
1879, when a small British force encamped at Myer's Drift was attacked by Mbilini
and suffered heavy losses. The second incident occurred four weeks later, on 5 April,
when Mbilini and his men were surprised while raiding cattle near Luneberg. In the
ensuing skirmish Mbilini was fatally wounded. According to C. Vijn, the son of
Sihayo who was killed while fighting with Mhilini was Nkumbikazulu, but this is
disputed by I. W. Colenso. (See: C. Vijn, Cetshwayo's Dutchman, London 1880,
pp. 40 and 124)
29 The Emtonjaneni (emThonjaneni) ridge lies to the south of the middle reaches of
the White urnFolozi. It was occupied by Chelmsford's 2nd Division on 28 June 1879.
30 Dabulamanzi kaMpande was Cetshwayo's ful! brother.
3 [ Ondini (uluNdi), on the emaHlabathini plain north of the middle reaches of the
White umFolozi, was Cetshwayo's principal residence.
32 Nodwengu, situated on the emaHlabathini plain about 5 kilometres from uluNdi,
was one of Cetshwayo's major military settlements.
33 The battle of uluNdi commenced at approximately 8.45 a.m. on 4 July 1879. By
10.00 a.m. the Zulu lines had broken, and a series of running battles were in
pror,ress in which the retreating Zulu were harried by Chelmsford's forces. By midday,
the fighting was over.
21 A Zulu Boy's Recollections
34 The legend that the British fought at uluNdi behind a fortress of sheet iron spread
widely through Zululand after the war. It may derive from stories about the 'band
of steel' that appeared to encircle the British lines after the order to fix bayonets
had been given.
35 uluNdi and the other principal royal homesteads and military settlements on the
emaHlabathini plain were burnt by the British after the battle.
36 Inhlazatshe (iNhlazatshe) mountain lies to the west of the emaHlabathini plain.
37 i.e. had their homes at isAndlwana in Sihayo's area of jurisdiction.
38 Isihlungu (isiHlungu) lies to the south-west of iNhlazatshe near the upper reaches of
the umHlathuze river, and is within a day's walking distance of isAndlwana, where
the informant's home was situated.
39 Cetshwayo was captured in the eNgome forest on 28 August 1879.
40 For a different assessment see J. Y. Gibson, The Story of the Zulus, Pietermaritzhurg
1903, p. 128. '
Pre-Shakan age-group formation
among the northern Nguni
In seeking to explain the emergence of the Zulu kingdom in the early 19th
century, students of northern Nguni history have so far generally focussed
their attention on the development of what they call the Zulu 'military'
system. They argue, or more often assume, that central to the socio-political
transformations which were taking place in the Thukela-Phongolo region in
the late 18th and early 19th centuries was the establishment in certain chief­
doms of new forms of 'regimental' organisation and new methods of waging
warfare. Most historians have accepted without argument Bryant's assertions
that these processes of reorganisation hinged on a change in the northern
Nguni system of buthaing," for forming young men and, in some cases per­
haps, women into groups (amabutho) constituted on the basis of age-differ­
ences and having specific social functions to perform. Where male amabutho
had previously served primarily as circumcision sets, Bryant maintains, by the
early 19th century, at least, they had been transformed into units with a wider
range of socially important duties expected of them. The buthaing of young
women, if it had not previously existed, was established in the Zulu kingdom
after Shaka's accession to power.
If historians have - perhaps too uncritically - accepted Bryant's con­
clusion that major changes in the organisation and functioning of amabutho
were taking place in the decades before and after 1800, they have tended to
lose sight of two related points that he makes: first, that these changes were
widespread among the northern Nguni chiefdoms, and second, that the recon­
stituted amabutho came to be used for 'general state purposes'.4 In what can be
termed the conventional view of northern Nguni history, as expressed in the
publications of scholars such as Gluckman, Omer-Cooper, and Thompson,5
the emphasis is on developments in the Mthethwa and Zulu kingdoms, and on
the military functions of the male amabutho. The initial stages of these devel­
opments are associated with the rise of Dingiswayo and the Mthethwa king­
dom, and its later stages with the rise of Shaka and the Zulu kingdom.
Dingiswayo is seen as having abolished the practice of circumcision and, with
it, the old circumcision schools, and as having conscripted the young men
under his authority into an army organized into age-regiments, each of which
would be called up to serve the king for part of every year. Shaka's contri­
bution, it is commonly supposed, was to have introduced, firstly, full-time mili­
tary service for all men until they had reached the age of 35 or 40; secondly
the quartering of age-regiments in specially built barracks; thirdly, the con­
scription of young women into a parallel set of age-regiments; and fourthly,
strict prohibitions on marriage outside the compass of conditions prescribed
by the king, whereby men's age-regiments were successively released from full­
time service as they reached the age of 'maturity', and given permission to
take wives from designated women's regiments.
23 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
Two features of this image of the system of buthaing as developed by
Dingiswayo and Shaka need to be noted. In the first place, as far as the
functioning of the system is concerned, the men's amabutho are seen primarily
as military formations. They represent groups of 'warriors' who have been
'conscripted', 'recruited', or 'enrolled' into 'regiments', housed in 'barracks',
and are used mainly for fighting purposes, whether against external enemies
or internal dissidents. Where other functions of the amabutho are recognised
they usually receive only passing mention. The social significance of the
forming of women's age-groups receives virtually no attention, and the
restrictions on marriage are seen as serving primarily to increase the efficiency
of the younger men as soldiers by bringing them under stricter discipline.
In the second place, as far as the impulse behind the transformation of
buthaillg is concerned, the conventional accounts have little to say. The idea
propagated by Europeans in the 19th century that Dingiswayo learnt the
basics of regimental organisation from some or other white men has almost,
if not quite, disappeared,6 though an explanation of the same genre, that he
may have copied the idea of age-regiments from some or other Sotho peoples,
still survives.
Currently more popular are the various mutations of Gluck­
man's 'population pressure' thesis, which in essence sees population growth
in the northern Nguni area as having brought local chiefdoms into increasing
competition with one another for land by the end of the 18th century, leading
in the early 19th century, by a process which is never fully explained, to the
emergence of conquest states such as the Mthethwa kingdom of Dingiswayo
and the Ndwandwe of Zwide.
An alternate hypothesis sees these conflicts as
arising rather from the attempts made by certain chiefdoms to seize for them­
selves as large a share as possible of a supposedly growing trade with Europe
through Delagoa Bay." In either case the development of the age-regiment
system is seen primarily in terms of the need increasingly felt by rival political
leaders for larger and more efficient fighting forces,
Though historians writing within the orthodox would have noted that chief­
doms such as the Ndwandwe, the Dlamini-Ngwane, and perhaps others, seem
to have been developing age-regiment systems at much the same time as
were the Mthethwa, they have made little attempt to account for this pheno­
menon except through vague statements such as exemplified in the comment
that these systems 'arose naturally out of the stress of circumstances'.lo Where
any more specific explanation is ventured, these developments are usually seen
as responses to the same conditions of general unrest that produced the Mthe­
thwa system. Thus, in default of any more incisive analysis, Dingiswayo and
Shaka still tend to be seen as the 'innovators' of the age-regiment system, and
the socio-political factors involved in its development are never properly con­
The limitations of the conventional viewpoint are partly a function of
paucity of source material on northern Nguni history before 1824, when the
presence of literate observers on the scene first became a permanent reality,
but also - and more important - of the perspectives so far adopted by most
historians of the period,l1 Until very recently, writers of 'Zulu' history have
been concerned more with chronicling political and military events than with
analysing social change: hence the image of the amabutho as essentially mili­
tary formations organized primarily for conducting warfare. In the last few
years, however, a number of scholars have begun to open up new perspectives
24 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
on northern Nguni history by focussing On aspects of change in the regional
political economy, that is, on changes in the means by which successive power­
holding groups in the local chiefdoms sought to reproduce the material con­
ditions which enabled them to maintain their positions of dominance. The
pioneering work in this field has been done by Jeff Guy, who, in a series of
as yet unpublished papers on the rise of the Zulu kingdom, introduces a new
dimension into analysis of the position occupied by the amabutho in the Zulu
social formation. In terms of his argument the male amabutho are not simply
military formations, but also units performing labour for the state and
effecting crucial reproductive functions. 'The basis of the king's power,' Guy
writes, 'lay in the surplus labour (which) he extracted from every homestead
within the kingdom, by means of the military system ... Through the "mili­
tary system" the king was able to draw on the labour of all Zulu men for
perhaps a third of their productive lives'.'2 In similar vein, the restrictions
imposed by the king on marriage
'not only allowed the king to divert labour power from the homestead
into his service but also gave the king control over the process of repro­
duction within the kingdom ... By delaying marriage ... the king was
able to delay the whole process of homestead formation within the king­
dom. This sanction not only gave him dominance over the production
process within each homestead but also had significant demographic im­
plications ... "3
In brief, 'the Zulu military system gave the king the means to control the
process of reproduction and production within the Zulu kingdom'.14
Although Guy does not attempt to detail the processes by which the Zulu
'military' system developed, his introduction of a new line of argument serves
to sharpen the debate on the subject. His thesis is that the origins of more
systematic and larger-scale buthaing among the chiefdoms of northern Nguni­
land should be seen as a response to a socio-economic crisis that was
developing in the region by at least the later 18th century, a crisis which he
sees specifically as resulting from an increasing scarcity of good grazing and
good agricultural land. Under these conditions, he argues,
'there would be advantages in assuming political control over a larger
area of land and an increased number of people; in societies where hu­
man energy is the main source of social strength, there is a considerable
degree of correlation between demographic magnitude and coercive po­
tential ... Moreover, an extension of territory would give members of
the group access to a greater range of grazing and arable land . . . "5
Operating from a different starting point, Henry Slater has in his recently
completed doctoral thesis reached conclusions similar in many respects to
Guy's about the functions which amabutho were performing in northern Nguni
society by the late 18th or early 19th century. 16 He sees the crisis affecting
northern Nguniland from the mid-18th century onward as resulting not so
much from a deterioration in the quality of the environment, as Guy has
argued, as from a growing labour shortage in the local trading states that were,
in his view, already in existence before 1750. From about the mid-18th cen­
tury, the power-holders in these states were, in response to an increase of
European trade through Delagoa Bay and Port Natal, more and more con­
cerned to expand their production of commodities intended for exchange, and
hence to gain direct control over the labour-power of the 'peasantry' (to use
Pre-Shakan age-group formation
Slater's term) over whom they ruled. In the later 18th and early 19th cen­
turies, therefore, previously 'feudal' societies were in the process of being
transformed into 'absolutist' states, with the power-holders taking greater
and greater powers for themselves at the expense of the peasantry.
Though few historians of south-eastern Africa are likely uncritically to
accept Slater's new proposal of an old theme, namely that the dynamic for
the rise of state systems in northern Nguniland was provided primarily by the
impact of European trade, the materialist framework which he uses enables
him to throw fresh light on the processes by which centralized kingdoms were
established in the area. He sees the crucial developments in the process of
centralization as being those by which power-holding groups extended their
control over the labour-power of the peoples subordinate to them. In each
developing state the political leaders sought to force the active adult males
under their authority out of the business of producing for their own home­
steads and into the business of performing labour for the state. The insti­
tutional framework necessary for the co-ordination of the activities of large
numbers of men was provided by reorganisation of the army, which became
an instrument to be used in attempts to expand the area of territory under its
respective king's authority, and thus to enlarge the quantity both of natural
resources and of labour-power at his command. In addition to their military
duties, the men of the army herded the king's cattle, worked in his fields, and
built his homesteads. Hence, as Bryant first pointed out nearly fifty years
ago,17 'the male regiments were essentially multi-functioned organized labour
gangs rather than regiments of professional soldiers'.ls Extension of control
of the female labour force also took the form of 'regiment' formation, although
women still spent most of their time in their homesteads, where their prime
functions were to produce grain to feed the army, and, by rearing children,
produce more labour-power for the state.
The thrust of these more recently developed arguments is, then, that the
amabutlzo which were being formed in some, at least, of the northern Nguni
chiefdoms from the late 18th century onward should not be seen simply as
'regiments' used by the leaders of emergent states as instruments of military
aggression; rather, they were formations performing labour and reproductive
functions, control of which was vital for power-holders who, for whatever
reason, were seeking to expand both the scope and the span of their political
authority. From this standpoint, state formation among the northern Nguni
cannot be explained simply in terms of military conquest, but must also be
understood as encompassing a major social transformation, central to which
was the forming of these multi-functional amabutlzo. The question of how
such amabutlzo came into being is thus crucial to any analysis of Nguni state
The empirical data needed for essaying an answer to this question are mini­
mal, but on the basis of information available in Bryant's works, in James
Stuart's published Zulu readers, and in the Stuart Collection itself, some pre­
liminary points can be formulated. The base-line for any discussion of the
history of butlzaing is, and will probably remain, Bryant's statement that be­
fore the emergence of the centralised states of the later 18th and early 19th
centuries, northern Nguni age-groups functioned primarily as circumcision
Unless further documentary information on the history of this period
comes to light, which is unlikely, historians have no way of testing how far
26 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
this assertion is true. Its corollary is that in the chiefdoms of the 'pre-state'
period fighting men were organised not as age-groups but on some other
basis, presumably a territorial one. But even before Dingiswayo had become
king, 'military regiments were the universial Nguni custom', states Bryant in a
passage which later writers have too often overlooked.
He makes clear that
he is writing about age-regiments; hence, according to his line of reasoning,
the transformation of circumcision age-groups into 'military' age-groups would
have been well under way before 1800, not only in the Mthethwa sphere of
influence as is commonly supposed, but in all Nguniland.
This time a certain amount of evidence bearing on the issue is available
from other sources. In Stuart's records, Phakathwayo of the Qwabe, who
died c. 1818 according to Bryant's reckoning, is described as having butha'd
according to age.
He had at least five 'regiments', two of which may have
been formed by his father Khondlo.
His contemporary, Macingwane of the
Chungu, apparently had at least four regiments formed on an age-group
Other chiefs of the time who are said to have had 'regiments' are
Magaye of the Cele, who had five whose names are known, Zwide of the
Ndwandwe who had four, and Matiwane of the Ngwane who had three.
To the extent that chiefs other than Dingiswayo and Shaka were buthaing
'military' age-groups in the early 19th century, Bryant's statement can be
borne out, but his assertion that before Dingiswayo's time the formation of
such regiments had become a 'universal' practice is questionable. In the
Thembu chiefdom of Ngoza (d. in early 1820s), for instance, father and son
are said to have fought in the same regiment.
This would indicate that in
the early stages of Shaka's reign some independent chiefs were continuing to
organize their fighting men as territorial rather than as age-based units. Shaka
himself seems to have formed at least two territorial groups of warriors.
is likely that before Shaka firmly established it in the Zulu kingdom the
practice of but/wing militarized age-groups had been taking root in different
northern Nguni chiefdoms at different times, and that in the early 19th cen­
tury the transformation of circumcision sets to multi-functional 'regiments'
was still, in some areas, an on-going process. Thus Phakathwayo's fighting
men, after being butha'd into age-regiments, as indicated above, were then in­
corporated into a larger body consisting of men of different ages. And thus
the Hlubi chief Bhungane, who died c. 1800, apparently had no 'regiments',
whereas his successor Mthimkhulu formed at least one!'
The dynamic underlying the transformation of the system of buthaing can
perhaps best be understood in terms of the concepts formulated by Meillas­
soux, Terray, Dupre and Rey, and other scholars concerned with developing
a materialist analysis of the structures of pre-capitalist African societies.
From this point of view the change in organization and function of the
amabutho can be seen as part of a major social upheaval, which involved a
restructuring not only of relationships between chiefdoms but also of the in­
stitutionalised relationships between elders and juniors, and between men and
women. It can be argued that in a time of social crisis, such as seems to have
affected northern Nguniland by at least the later 18th century, the male elders,
who almost certainly formed the dominant element in Nguni society, would
have sought to tighten their control over the means by which their position
of dominance was reproduced through time. This would have entailed their
taking firmer control over the labour-power of the society's primary producers,
Pre-Shakan age-group formation
that is, the women and the younger men, and also over the means by which
that labour-power was reproduced, that is, over human reproduction. In the
process, pre-existing institutions through which social control of young men
was exercised, and through which access of unmarried men to unmarried
women was regulated, were transformed. The final products of this transform­
ation were the men's and women's amabutho formed in the Zulu kingdom
under Shaka.
One indication of the extension of elders' control over young men may be
seen in the abolition of circumcision. Conventionally, the disappearance of
this practice, which apparently had once been widespread among the northern
Nguni;9 is explained in terms of the increasing militarisation of northern
Nguni society.30 Small-scale communities, it is argued, would have been es­
pecially vulnerable to attack when a large proportion of their potential fighting
men were periodically secluded in circumcision schools; hence, in a time of
increasing unrest it would have been logical for the practice of circumcision
to be dropped. But in terms of the perspective outlined in the previous para­
graph, the disappearance of circumcision should be seen as an indicator of the
change taking place in the social relationships between older men and younger
men. In the days when circumcision was still practised, according to Bryant,
males were circumcised when 16-18 years old.
If, as was presumably the
case, circumcision rites functioned to mark the passage from youth to adult­
hood, young men would thus have attained social maturity comparatively
early. In conditions where elders were seeking to extend the scope of their
authority over juniors, it would have been to their advantage to abolish cir­
cumcision and replace it with another custom, such as the putting on of
headrings, which could be carried out at a later stage in a man's life and so
prolong the period when he was still regarded as a youth.
There is evidence to suggest that this is what was happening among the
northern Nguni in the pre-Shaken period, with circumcision falling into
disuse in different places at different times. Senzangakhona of the Zulu (born
c. 1760) mayor may not have been circumcised; his son Shaka (born in the
late 1780s) was not. 32 When Shaka began his reign c. 1816 the older men in
his kingdom had apparently been circumcised, while the younger men had
Among the Mabaso, Nongila, father of one of Stuart's informants and
a contemporary of Shaka, was circumcised, while among the Thembu, it is
said, the practice was discontinued during the reign of Ngoza (d. early
1820s).34 Among the Hlubi subject of the Zulu kingdom circumcision was still
being practised well after 1820, as it was in the Swazi kingdom until the
The origins of the practice of wearing headrings are unfortunately impos­
sible to specify. It is said to have existed among the Mthethwa in the time
of Dingiswayo's father Jobe, among the Qwabe in the time of Phakathwayo,
and among the Thembu in the time of Ngoza.
But in one area, at least, it
was introduced only after 1800, for it did not exist among the Hlubi in the
time of Bhungane (died c. 1800), becoming established only during the reign
of Mthimkhulu in the early 19th century, when, as has been mentioned above,
the first buthaing of Hlubi 'regiments' also took place.
Documented evidence that elders were also extending their control over
young women in the pre-Shakan period is virtually non-existent. One clue is
perhaps to be found in the statements recorded by Bryant and Stuart that
28 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
izigodlo (sing. isigodlo), or establishments of unmarried women disposable
by the chief in marriage, were formed by chiefs such as Senzangakhona of
the Zulu, Phakathwayo of the Qwabe, Matiwane of the Ngwane, and Macing­
wane of the Chunu.
Bryant sees the formation of large izigodlo in Shaka's
Zulu kingdom as a product specifically of the conquest period, and it may be
that in the pre-Shakan period other successful leaders were beginning the
practice which he continued.
Under Shaka, the formation, or enlarging, of
izigodlo was paralleled by the establishment of women's amabutho. That this
development was not restricted to the Zulu kingdom is evidenced by the fact
that Mthimkhulu of the IDubi had at least two female amabutho, although
this is the only other case that has so far come to light.
There is some evidence, then, for the argument that Shaka's amabutho
can be seen as the products of a process of social and political change that
had begun in northern Nguniland decades before he came to power, change
which hinged on the increasing exploitation by elders of the labour-power of
young men and women through the system of buthaing. In the process of ex­
panding the authority which they exercised within their communities, elders
would presumably have come into increasingly sharp conflict with their juniors,
conflict which could be contained only through the use of ever more stringent
measures of repression, or, in other words, through greater exploitation. The
violence, of a degree apparently unprecedented in the northern Nguni experi­
ence, which accompanied Shaka's conquests can perhaps partly be explained
in terms of a rebellion by juniors against the restrictions increasingly placed
on them over the previous decades, with young men now seeking not so much,
it seems, to overturn the system which exploited them as to re-appropriate by
force some of the products of the labour which elders had been extracting
from them. The irony is, of course, that by the time the Shakan wars were
over, the young men of the Zulu kingdom were more firmly subordinated to
the new Zulu aristocracy than they had ever been to their own elders. The
main instrument used at once to repress them and to co-ordinate their labour
was the amabutho system, and so effective was it found by Shaka and his
successors that with modifications, it remained the prime source of state-power
for the sixty years of the kingdom's existence.
1. This article represents a revised version of a paper presented to a workshop on
production and reproduction in the Zulu kingdom held in the University of Natal,
Pietermaritzburg, October, 1977.
2. The verb ukuhutha means to gather, collect.
3. A. T. Bryant, Olden Times in Zululand and Natal. London, 1929, pp. 98-9, 641-2;
and The Zulu People, Pietermaritzburg, 1949, pp. 489-95.
4. Bryant, Olden Times, pp. 641, 642.
5. M. Gluckman, 'The kingdom of the Zulu of South Africa', in M. Fortes and E.
Evans-Pritchard, eds., African Political Systems, London, 1940, pp. 25-55; 'The
rise of a Zulu empire', Scientific American. 202 (1960), pp. 157-68; 'The individual
in a social framework', 1nl. Af. Studies, 1 (1974), pp. 113-44; I. D. Omer-Cooper,
The Zulu Aftermath, London, 1966, ch. 2; 'The Nguni outburst', in I. Flint, ed.,
Cambridge History of Africa, vol. 5, Cambridge, 1976, ch. 9; L. Thompson, 'Co­
operation and conflict: the Zulu kingdom and Natal', in M. Wilson and L. Thomp­
son, eds., Oxford History of South Africa, vol. 1, Oxford, 1969, ch. 9.
6. Gluckman, though sceptical of it, was still prepared to consider the idea as late
as 1974: see his 'Individual in a social framework', p. 136.
29 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
7. Omer-Cooper, Zulu Aftermath, p. 27; 'Nguni outburst', p. 323; Gluckman, 'Indivi­
dual in a sociCll framework', p. 136.
8. Gluckman, 'The kingdom of the Zulu', pp. 25-6; Omer-Cooper, Zulu Aftermath,
pp. 25, 27; 'Nguni outburst', pp. 321-3; Thompson, 'Co-operation and conflict',
pp. 340-1.
9. E.g. A. Smith, 'The trade of Delagoa Bay as a factor in Nguni politics', in L.
Thompson, ed., African Societies in Southern Africa, London, 1969, ch. 8; M.
Wilson, Divine Kings and the 'Breath of Man', Cambridge, 1959, p. 24.
10. Omer-Cooper, 'Nguni outburst', p. 325.
11. The primary sources are: (i) an enclosure to an official despatch first prepared by
Theophilus Shepstone in 1864, but not more widely available until 1883, when it
was published in Cape of Good Hope Blue Book G.4, Report and Proceedings of
the Government Commission on Native Laws and Customs, part n, pp. 415-26; (ii)
a lecture given by Shepstone and originally published in 1875, but not more widely
available until its republication in J. Bird, ed., Annals of Natal, vo!. 1, Pieter­
maritzburg, 1888, pp. 155-66; (Hi) a manuscript written by Henry Fynn c. 1840,
but not published until 1888, when it appeared in Bird's Annals, vo!. 1, pp. 60-71.
12. J. J. Guy, 'Ecological factors in the rise of Shaka and the Zulu kingdom', paper
presented to conference on southern African history, National University of
Lesotho, August 1977, p. 14.
13. J. J. Guy, 'Production and exchange in the Zulu kingdom', paper presented to
workshop on precapitalist social formations and colonial penetration in southern
Africa, National University of Lesotho, July 1976, p. 9.
14. Guy, 'Ecological factors', p. 16.
15. Ibid., p. 9.
16. Henry Slater, 'Transitions in the political economy of south-east Africa before
1840', unpublished D. PhiI. thesis, University of Sussex, 1976. See in particular
ch. 9.
17. In Olden Times, p. 78.
18. Slater, 'Transitions', p. 307.
19. See note 3 above.
20. In Olden Times, p. 641.
21. C. de B. Webb and J. B. Wright, eds., The lames Stuart Archive, vol. 1, Pieter­
maritzburg, 1976, evidence of Kambi, p. 210; Bryant, Olden Times, p. 186.
22. Bryant, Olden Times, pp. 99, 185, 198; J. Stuart, uBaxoxele, London 1924, p. 28;
Webb and Wright, eds., Stuart Archive, vol. 1, evidence of Kambi, p. 210.
23. Killie Campbell Africana Library, James Stuart Collection, File 62, nbk. 71, evi­
dence of Magidigidi, p. 3.
24. Stuart Collection, File 61, nbk. 52, evidence of Mageza, p. 23; Webb and Wright,
eds., Sluart Archive, vo!. 1, evidence of Luzipo, p. 354; Bryant, Olden Times, pp.
99, 141.
25. Webb and Wright, eds., Stuart Archive, vol. 1, evidence of Lugubu, p. 286; evi­
dence of Lunguza, p. 299; Bryant, Olden Times, p. 244.
26. These were the men of the ebaQulusini homestead in the north-west of the Zulu
kingdom, and those of the oSebeni homestead in the south-west. See Bryant, Olden
Times, pp. 42, 181; C. de B. Webb and J. B. Wright, eds., A Zulu King Speaks,
Pietermaritzburg, 1978, pp. 14n, 26, 32-3, 40.
27. Webb and Wright, eds., Sluart Archive, vol. 1, evidence of Kambi, p. 210; Stuart
Collection, File 59, nbk. 29, evidence of Mabonsa, p. 35.
28. C. Meillassoux, 'From reproduction to production', Economy and Society, 1 (1972),
pp. 93-105; 'The social organisation of the peasantry: the economic basis of kin­
ship', 1nl. Peasant Studies, 1 (1973), pp. 81-90; C. Dupre and P.-P. Rey, 'Reflections
on the pertinence of a theory of the history of exchange', Economy and Society, 2
(1973), pp. 131-63; E. Terray, Marxism and 'Primitive' Societies, New York and
London, 1972, pp. 95-18'6. See also M. Mackintosh, 'Reproduction and patriarchy:
a critique of Claude Meillassoux, "Femmes, Greniers et Capitaux", Capital and
Class, 2 (1977), pp. 119-27.
29. Bryant, Zulu People, p. 490; Webb and Wright, eds., Stuart Archive, vo!. 1, evi­
dence of Jantshi, p. 195.
30. Omer-Cooper, 'Nguni outburst', p. 324. See also E. J. Krige, The Social System of
the Zulus, Pietermaritzburg, 1950 ed., pp. 116-17.
31. Zulu People, p. 490.
32. Stuart Collection, File 60, nbk. 29, evidence of Madikane, p. 3; Bryant, Olden
Times, pp. 46, 122,571; Zulu People, p. 492; A. F. Gardiner, Narrative of a Jour­
ney to the Zoolu Country, London, 1836, repr. Cape Town, 1966, p. 95.
33. Bryant, Zulu People, p. 492, quoting Arbousset, Narrative of an Exploratory Tour,
Cape Town, 1846, p. 139.
30 Pre-Shakan age-group formation
34. Webb and Wright, eds., Stuart Archive, vol. 1, evidence of Jantshi, pp. 189, 195;
evidence of Lunguza, p. 301; Bryant, Olden Times, p. 244.
35. Stuart Collection, File 59, nbk. 29, evidence of Mabonsa, pp. 33, 38; P. Bonner,
'Early state formation among the Nguni: the relevance of the Swazi case', un­
published paper presented to the African History Seminar, Institute of Common­
wealth Studies, University of London, January 1978, p. 4.
36. Bryant, Olden Times, pp. 85, 87; Webb and Wright, eds., Sluart Archive, vol. I,
evidence of Kambi, p. 210; evidence of Lunguza, p. 315.
37. Stuart Collection, File 59, nbk. 29, evidence of Mabonsa, p. 52.
38. Bryant, Olden Times, p. 46; Stuart, uBaxoxele, pp. 27, 29, 31.
39. Bryant, Olden Times, p. 52.
40. Stuart Collection, File 59, nbk. 29 evidence of Mabonsa on sheet attached to
front cover.
Lines of Power
The High Commissioner, the Telegraph
and the War of 1879
The Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 was precipitated by an ultimatum presented
to the Zulu on December 11, 1878, in the name of the British High Com­
missioner in South Africa. Yet the British government had no desire for
war. On the same day as the ultimatum was delivered, the Secretary of
State for the Colonies wrote that he and his cabinet colleagues 'entirely
deprecate the idea of entering on a Zulu war.'l This was not hypocrisy.
The British government knew that the High Commissioner, Sir Bartle Frere,
intended making 'demands' on the Zulu in order to achieve what he
euphemistically called 'a final settlement'. But they were without precise
information about the nature of those demands; and in the absence of a
direct telegraph link between Britain and South Africa, they had no
immediate means of finding out.
In 1874 a trans-Atlantic cable had been laid from Brazil to Europe via
Messages from London to South Africa could thus be telegraphed
to await the next weekly mail steamer calling at Madeira en route to Cape
Town. A message timed to arrive on the island just before the ship's
departure might reach its destination in South Africa some sixteen days
after despatch. But if it missed the ship, the delay might be extended by
anything up to a further seven days - more if the sailing was bad.
Allowing for a similar time-lag for messages passing from Cape Town to
London, a request by the British government for information from South
Africa was unlikely to yield a reply in anything less than five weeks; and
instructions in response to that reply could not be expected to reach South
Africa for another two or three weeks after that. Policy formulations in
London and the situations to which those policy formulations were intended
to apply could, thus, be badly out of alignment.
This fact of empire - the slow-moving communications system - obliged
the British government to allow its senior officials in South Africa wide
discretionary powers. Over the decades, several of the bolder proconsuls
had taken advantage of this to implement decisions which they knew would
be vetoed if submitted to London. It is doubtful, however, whether any
did so with more devastating effects than Sir Bartle Frere.
When he arrived at the Cape at the end of March 1877, the great task
to which Frere was committed was the construction of a federation of the
South African states and colonies. That was the 'object and end' towards
which Lord Carnarvon, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, had been
'steadily labouring' for the preceding two years; and, as Frere was told in a
private letter offering him the South African post, Carnarvon was now look­
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ing for 'the statesman who seems ... most capable of carrying my scheme
for confederation into effect, and whose long administrative experience and
personal character give me the best chances of success. '3
In its every paragraph, Carnarvon's letter spoke of his impatience. After
two years of endeavour, he was seeking results. He intended to press his
policy by all means in his power. The 'work of confederating and
of consolidating the confederated states' was, if possible, to be accom­
plished within two years. And to get affairs moving as quickly as possible,
the new High Commissioner was to agree to 'a very early departure for the
Cape.' The personal rewards at the end would be considerable. With the
'great task' accomplished, Frere, nearing the end of a distinguished career
of imperial service, could look forward to a glittering final appointment as
'the first Governor-General of the South African Dominion', and to a much
higher salary - perhaps twice that of the Governor of the Cape.
The date of the letter was October 13, 1876. Two years later, the high
hopes and firm intentions which it expressed had come to nothing. Federa­
tion was as far from achievement as it had ever been; and Frere, instead
of having the Governor-Generalship of the new South African dominion
within his grasp, was set on a course - war with the Zulu - that was to
lead first to his censure and the curtailment of his powers, and then to his
The fact that the two-year time-table had not been kept was not Frere's
fault; nor was the drift towards war his sole responsibility. Though it was
he who decided 'to put a final end to Zulu pretensions',5 the decision was
taken in response to circumstances that were not of his making. South
African affairs were far more intractable and explosively unpredictable than
Carnarvon had anticipated; and the Secretary of State himself was responsi­
ble for decisions that impeded Frere's assignment in South Africa.
Of these, none was more disastrous than the annexation of the Transvaal
in April 1877. Intended to ease the way forward to federation by extinguish­
ing the independence of a troublesome Afrikaner republic, the annexation
had almost exactly the opposite effects: it offended white opinion, particu­
larly Afrikaner opinion, over much of South Africa; it saddled Britain with
the administration of a territory settled by discontented, potentially rebellious
subjects; and it converted a long-standing border dispute between the Trans­
valers and their Zulu neighbours into a direct British responsibility.
A poisonous potion had been mixed! If its effects were to be neutralised
- if the Transvalers were to be reconciled to the loss of their independence,
and if anti-British sentiment in the rest of South Africa was to be mollified
- the benefits of British rule north of the Vaal had to be demonstrated.
But there was little chance of doing that if Boer land claims against the
Zulu in the disputed Blood river area were not firmly upheld.
So far as Frere was concerned, a blight had been placed on his South
African mission from the very outset. Though the annexation occurred with­
in a fortnight of his arrival, he was not fully consulted. Confronted by a
fait accompli, he gave the annexation his loyal support; but he was under no
illusions about its implications. Shortly after the news from Pretoria reached
him in Cape Town, he wrote warning Carnarvon that it would 'require great
tact to prevent the whole Dutch section of the population feeling very deeply
on the subject', and in a letter of May 21, 1877, he added:
33 Lines of Power
There can be no doubt that the annexation of the Transvaal has ma­
terially altered the position of all parties ... with regard to federation.
It has immensely strengthened the position of all who desire confedera­
tion, by making it more of an absolute certainty and necessity than it
was before. But it has at the same time startled and alarmed both
classes of the Dutch, the Africanders, and the Neologians who sym­
pathized with Burgers in his dreams of a great anti-English South Afri­
ca ... It has had a similar effect ... on the old orthodox Dutch party
. . . They have a vague kind of sympathetic regret for the extinction
of anything that calls itself Dutch ...
A year later, Frere's difficulties had multiplied. In January 1878, Carnar­
von, after falling out with his cabinet colleagues over the handling of the
Eastern Question, had been replaced at the Colonial Office by Sir Michael
Hicks Beach.
To Frere it was a bitter blow. Hicks Beach, by his own con­
fession, knew little about South African affairs;9 and in a note to Carnarvon,
Frere wrote:
Reuter's telegram, saying that you have left the Ministry, has, without
any figure of speech, utterly taken the heart out of me. I try to frame
all kinds of theories by which you are again at the helm in the Colonial
Office till South African confederation is carried, or at soonest till my
share in the work is finished, for I feel my interest in the work, and my
hopes of carrying it through, sadly diminished by ... your leaving the
post which has so identified your name with the fortunes of South Afri­
ca. It is peculiarly trying to us just now, when there seems at last a
prospect of a break in the clouds ...
Where that break was it is difficult now to see. The horizon was darken­
ing. Perhaps Frere had in mind the special commission, arranged by the
Lieutenant-Governor of Natal at the end of 1877, which was to investigate,
and then report to the High Commissioner on the Transvaal-Zulu border
dispute. When the report was drawn up, however, it brought cold comfort
to the man who had committed the final years of his career to constructing
a great new British Dominion in South Africa. Instead of verifying Trans­
vaal land claims in the disputed territory, the commissioners declared in
favour of Zulu rights to the east of the Blood river; and it was left to Frere
to implement a boundary settlement that could only offend still further the
colonist opinion that he was seeking to woo. 11
To add to his discomfiture, the timing could hardly have been worse. The
report of the commission was delivered to him in Cape Town on July 15,
1878. At that very moment, a delegation, consisting of S. J. P. Kruger and
P. J. Joubert, was in London to request the restoration of the Transvaal's
independence. In a letter to Frere on 11 July, Hicks Beach described the out­
look as 'stormy': the mood in the Transvaal was rebellious, and when the
delegation returned, with its request refused, there would, he feared, be an
outbreak. Frere was accordingly advised to 'strengthen to the utmost' the
British forces in the Transvaal, and to call for reinforcements should they
be needed to maintain order amongst the Boers and to uphold the boundary
settlement. 12
34 Lines of Power
The advice was well-intended; but it is doubtful whether it was equally
well received. Frere's mind was turning in a different direction. If force was
to be used, it was to be used against the Zulu, not the Boers. The unwelcome
boundary recommendations were to be rendered irrelevant by holding back
the award until a pretext existed to extinguish the independence of the Zulu
kingdom. For another five months, therefore, the report of the boundary
commissioners remained in Frere's files, unpublicised and unimplemented,
while he prepared a way out of the impasse into which it had forced him.
What was needed was a case against the Zulu - a portmanteau of griev­
ances that would justify war - or, if not war, a threat of war so severe as
to force the Zulu to surrender their independence. Such grievances were not
difficult to find. Every South African frontier yielded its annual crop of 'in­
cidents'; and with tension running high over the still unresolved Blood river
dispute, the Zulu frontiers could be counted on to yield a richer crop than
usual. 13
Far less certain was the response of the British government. Though Hicks
Beach had talked of providing reinforcements, he had done so for the pur­
pose of quenching a Boer rebellion and enforcing the boundary award.
Frere's purposes were different, and the British government had to be per­
suaded to accept them. He therefore bombarded the Colonial Office with
despatches in which the Zulu were represented as 'quite out of hand' and
an imminent menace to the security of their white neighbours. 14
It was a redoubtable campaign, but it failed, in the end, to achieve its
purpose. The Secretary of State faithfully laid Frere's views before the
cabinet; but South African affairs ranked low in the scale of priorities of a
great world Power, and ministers remained unconvinced by the High Com­
missioner's arguments.
By 10th November, Frere knew this. From Hicks Beach had come a
number of telegraphic despatches telling of the British government's un­
willingness to countenance war with the Zulu, including one which read: I.>
Her Majesty's Government are . . . not prepared to comply with the
request for a reinforcement of troops. All the information that has
hitherto reached them, with respect to the position of affairs in Zulu­
land, appears to them to justify a confident hope that by the exercise of
prudence, and by meeting the Zulus in a spirit of forebearance and rea­
sonable compromise, it will be possible to avert the very serious evil of a
war with Cetewayo ...
Had there, at that moment, been a telegraph cable linking South Africa
directly to London, the wishes of the British government must have prevailed
over those of Frere. As it was, however, Frere had a long head-start, and
by careful timing of his despatches he was able to keep it.
The first intimation of his intention to make 'demands' on the Zulu was
in a private letter to Hicks Beach, written on October 14, 1878.
But that
letter only arrived in London on November 16, and by then messengers had
already been despatched from Natal to the Zulu kingdom to request the
presence of a delegation at the Lower Tugela on December 11 for the pur­
pose of receiving the High Commissioner's decisions. A prompt telegraphic
response by Hicks Beach on November 16, explicitly forbidding anything
35 Lines of Power
beyond the announcement of the boundary award, might have arrived in
South Africa just in time to prevent the ultimatum being presented - but
only just! It didn't come, and could hardly be expected to, for Hicks Beach
had no means of knowing the last-minute urgency of the events that were
already in train. Nowhere in Frere's letter was there anything to indicate
how soon he intended to act; nor was there anything to suggest how stringent
his demands would be.
In the weeks that followed, despatches, telegrams and private letters from
the High Commissioner continued to flood in on Hicks Beach, inching his
mind forward to the point where he would be prepared for the news that
'would eventually break in London - that Britain was at war with the Zulu.
Much of the correspondence was designed to justify the coming conflict and
to strengthen the case for reinforcements. Occasionally also there were miss­
ives that gave some indication of the moves which Frere himself was mak­
ing. Amongst these was a despatch written in mid-November, stating that
the relevant documentation was being forwarded, and proposing that 'the
award in the matter of the boundary dispute be at once communicated to
Cetywayo and the Chiefs and Council of the Zulu nation, together with a
statement of the demands of the British government for reparation for the
past and security for the future.'11
It was the most crucial despatch in the series, but it did not give the Bri­
tish government a sporting chance. Though it was written three weeks be­
fore the date appointed for the meeting on the Lower Tugela, by the time
it arrived in London (December 19th), the ultimatum had been presented
and was running its course. Moreover, by an oversight that was never ad­
equately explained, the promised enclosures (including a memorandum on
Frere's critically important 'demands') were not sent, and had to be forwarded
by a later mail. When these documents eventually arrived in London it was
2nd January 1879. There remained only nine days until the ultimatum expired
and hostilities commenced.
Perhaps the best commentary on Frere's conduct of affairs is a letter writ­
ten to him by Hicks Beach on December 25, 1878. That Christmas day must
have been a troubled and unhappy one for the Secretary of State. He
I have already, both publicly and privately, impressed upon you to such
an extent my views as to the necessity, if possible, of avoiding a Zulu war,
that I do not wish to repeat myself. There is, however, one reason in
favour of keeping the peace to which I do not think I have much
adverted: and that is the question of cost ... In your present position,
you can, perhaps, hardly appreciate the difficulties in which, on this
ground alone, a Zulu war might involve us.
The revenue returns are bad: trade is at a standstill: distress is consider­
able: it is difficult to see how next year is to be met without additional
taxation: and in the present state of feeling in the country, which is
scarcely likely to improve by next spring, any proposal for additional
taxation is by no means unlikely to involve the defeat of the Govern­
ment ...
Your despatch, No. 295 (of Nov. 16), was received at C.O. on 19th
December, but I only saw it yesterday. It is rather difficult to deal
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with it, as the promised enclosures have not arrived .... You may have
(and doubtless you have) excellent reasons ... for demanding 'reparation
for the past and security for the future' ... But you have not given me
those reasons .... Nor even now do I know what particular 'reparation'
and 'security' you have included in those demands.
When I first came to the Colonial Office I told you you might rely on my
support: and so you may. But (bearing in mind all that I have written to
you against a Zulu war, at the instance, remember, of the Cabinet) I think
you will see how awkward a position you may have placed me in by
making demands of this nature without my previous knowledge and
sanction. You may satisfy me that they were necessary, and I am quite
willing to be satisfied; but I do not see it at present. Being once made
they cannot be withdrawn: yet Cetewayo may very possibly prefer fight­
ing to accepting them: and then, if the Cabinet should not be satisfied
that you were right in making them, it will be too late to draw back,
and we shall find ourselves involved in this war against our will.
Spelt out in that plaintive, worried letter of Christmas day 1878 was the
underlying tragedy of the Anglo-Zulu war. Frere had set a course on which
there could be no return. Within a matter of weeks, Great Britain and the
Zulu kingdom would be locked in a conflict which neither wanted, but which,
once it had begun, would cost thousands of lives, and would carry the Zulu
people into a long, dark time of troubles.'·
Soon after assuming control at the Colonial Office, Hicks Beach had indi­
cated that he hoped to get something done about direct telegraphic communi­
cation with South Africa. It was, in his opinion, a point 'of great practical
importance.'2o But he had failed to move quickly enough. The catastrophe
of Isandhlwana was needed before action was taken. Then it followed fast!
Already available was a cable from London to Bombay via Aden. Now, in
1879, a new link was established, from Aden down the east coast of Africa
to Zanzibar, Mocambique, Delagoa Bay, Durban, and thence, via the internal
South African network, to Cape Town.
' The link-up was completed by the
end of the year; and with its completion, the days of the independent imperial
proconsul in South Africa were brought to a sudden end. That was the irony:
the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879 extended to South Africa an instrument of direct
imperial supervision, which. if it had been available a year earlier. would
have made the war avoidable. In that sense, the fate of the Zulu nation and
the lives of thousands of human beings were, in 1878-9, twined into the cable
coils that were the power-lines of late Victorian empire.
C. de B. WEBB
1. Hicks Beach to Frere, 11.12.78, in Lady Victoria Hicks Beach, Life of Sir M iclzael
Hicks Beach, vol. I (London 1932), p. 116.
2. The Telecon Story, 1850-1950 (London 1950), p. 174.
3. Carnarvon to Frere, 13.10.76, in John Martineau, Life of Sir Bartle Frere, vo!. II
(London 1895), pp. 161-2.
4. Ibid.
5. Frere to Hicks Beach, 30.9.78, in Martineau, op. cif., p. 245.
37 Lines of Power
6. See Clement Francis GoodfeIIow, Great Britain and South African Confederation
(Cape Town 1966), chs. 7 & 8.
7. Frere to Carnarvon, 21.5.77, in Martineau, op. cif., p. 186. See also pp. 183-4.
8. Hicks Beach, op. cit., pp. 61-2.
9. Hicks Beach to Frere, 7.3.78, in Hicks Beach, op. cit., p. 83.
10. Frere to Carnarvon, 7.2.78, in Martineau, op. cit. p. 219.
11. For details of the boundary commission and its report see C-2220, Further Corres­
pondence re the Affairs of South Africa (London 1879), Appendix n.
12. Hicks Beach to Frere, 11.7.78, in Hicks Beach, op. cit., pp. 86-7.
13. For a discussion of the incidents on which Frere based his ultimatum see E. H.
Brookes and C. de B. Webb, A History of Natal (Pietermaritzburg 1965), pp. 132-4.
14. See C-2220 and C-2222, Further Correspondence re the Affairs of South Africa
(London 1879), passim.
15. Hicks Beach to Frere, 17.10.78, in C-2220, p. 273. See also Hicks Beach, op. cit.,
pp. 101 & 107.
16. Hicks Beach, op. cit., p. 107. See also C-2222, p. 17, Frere to Hicks Beach, 11.11.78.
17. Frere to Hicks Beach, 16.11.78, in C-2222, pp. 23 et seq.
18. Hicks Beach to Frere, 25.12.78, in Hicks Beach. op. cit., pp. 117-8.
19. See C. de B. Webb, 'Great Britain and the Zulu People' in L. M. Thompson ed'.,
African Societies in Southern Africa (London 1969), ch. 14.
20. Hicks Beach to Frere, 11.7.78, in Hicks Beach, op. cit., p. 88. On 3rd November,
1878, Hicks Beach wrote to the Prime Minister, Lord Beaconsfield: 'J am by no
means satisfied that a Zulu war is necessary .... J have impressed this view on
Sir B. Frere, both officially and privately, to the best of my power. But I cannot
really control him without a telegraph.' (Ibid., p. 103.)
21. R. Bennett, Reminiscences of the Cape Government Telegraphs (Cape Town n.d.),
Isandhlwana and the Passing of
a Proconsul
When he arrived in South Africa in 1877, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere
was the most illustrious of British proconsuls to wield the authority of
Cape Governor. He had helped to preserve Western India during the Mutiny
of 1857. He had been Governor of Bombay - a position far more impor­
tant in the general reckoning than the Cape. He had guided the young
Prince of Wales around the Indian Empire and had succeeded, remarkably,
in winning the friendship of both youth and formidable parent - Queen
Victoria. Finally, the suppression of the Zanzibar slave trade had invested
Frere with the aura of Christian crusading that was dear alike to the roman­
tically and philanthropically inclined circles of the Victorian elite. Why then
did he accept seeming demotion to the mere Governorship of the Cape?
The answer lies in the fact that Lord Carnarvon, Secretary of State for the
Colonies, had come to the conclusion in early 1877 that he could no longer
continue to promote the cause of Southern African Confederation solely from
Downing Street. A suitable man-on-the-spot with appropriate local authority
was needed. Frere's name was mooted, but it took considerable powers of
persuasion to convert him to the idea of a further tour of imperial duty. He
was already over sixty; a recipient of parliament's thanks - an elder states­
man in fact. But Carnarvon was importunate: Frere would be rewarded with a
peerage; he would go out as far more than Cape Governor - as "High Com­
missioner for South Africa generally" (previous High Commissioners had
theoretically been confined in this capacity to the north-eastern borders of the
Cape Colony); and, third, the Secretary of State promised that confederation
would only be the prelude to bigger things:
"... if, after having done this great work, you feel yourself able to stay
on for two or three years to bring the new machinery into working
order as first Governor-General of the South African Dominion, I
shall hail the decision ..."1
The prize was therefore a great one; in effect, Frere could make himself a
second Durham, Wellesley or Clive - an architect of empire, revered, en­
nobled, remembered. Frere accepted.
In his photographs the clear-eyed Frere appears as deceptively direct and
honest. But he was, in fact, a formidable, machiavellian personality. The out­
ward disarming exterior concealed the devious strands that wrapped a core
of steel. Yet there was a flaw; the strong self-confidence of experience and
success had given the instrument great brittle strength, but supreme stress
over a long period would cause it to snap rather than bend with the resilience
of youth. Isandhlwana began the application of that supreme stress. It would
end only with Frere's death five years later. This invests the South African
phase of his otherwise great career with the quality of Greek tragedy.
Isandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
The Battle of Isandhlwana disrupted - and in the long ternl destroyed ­
the British policy of confederation. So largely precipitated by Frere's driving
desire to solve the "native problems" of South Africa as a prelude to confed­
eration,2 the Zulu War was converted by this single disastrous defeat into
a recurrent nightmare for the High Commissioner. He had earlier shrugged
off the restraints that Disraeli's distant government in London had attempted
to lay on him, but when the general war account for £41- million and the
butcher's bill for Isandhlwana, in particular, came in for settlement, Frere
found things very different. Quickly, he was transformed into the symbol of
greedy expansionism - the man who had "... done much to deprave the
conscience of the colonists ... and to poison and contaminate the fountains
of what might be a healthy national life in these new communities."3 And
then, not long afterwards, came news of the untimely death of the Prince
Imperial. This double debacle - which Frere initially saw as a mere setback
-- laid up a store of tribulation that he would have to live with and through,
day by day, during his long decline.
After Isandhlwana Frere's early communications with Disraeli's govern­
ment in London showed his buoyancy. Unaware that he was acting the role of
Job's comforter, he cheerfully reassured ministers that "only" three more regi­
ments and supporting cavalry would be needed, for they"... must not think
it would be a very difficult thing to bring the Zulu to reason"; and again,
"The people are really docile and improvable."4 But there was now no ans­
wering echo from Downing Street. In this quarter at least "... the defeat of
Isandala [sic] had totally changed the case."5 Neither Frere nor his military
instrument, Chelmsford, seemed capable of rounding off the business of con­
quering and pacifying Zululand rapidly, or - as was now politically necessary
- cheaply. Meanwhile, it was known that the former "Mr Fixit" of Natal
troubles, Sir Garnet Wolseley, was champing to go out again. In May 1879 the
'model Major-General' was accordingly promoted to outrank Chelmsford
and became High Commissioner in South-East Africa to boot. His supreme
authority over Natal and the Transvaal was confirmed by his creation as
Governor of each. Unfortunately, South Africa would prove much too small
for two such High Commissioners as Frere and Wolseley.
Frere only slowly discovered that major portions of South Africa which he
had been sent to confederate as an entirety, had been removed from his
authority. Having calmed the panic that followed Isandhlwana in Natal, he
proceeded to the Transvaal, where the fledgling British administration that
Shepstone had established in 1877 was under pressure from rebellious Boers.
But here Frere's bold but facile attempts at settlement were quickly super­
seded by news of the censure that Disraeli's ministry had laid upon him for
his Zulu war policy and of the arrival of Wolseley a month later.
While he smarted under the rebuke and partial demotion, Frere was initially
stoical in his correspondence with Disraeli's new Secretary of State, Sir
Michael Hicks-Beach:
"So I quite realise the necessity of the step you have taken and the ad­
vantages which I hope will follow it. But I cannot see why you could
not have carried it out without putting any slight 011 me."6
Frere went on to warn - not once but repeatedly - of the danger that any
permanent division of High Commission authority would bring. But he might
40 lsandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
well have spared himself the paper, for the Colonial Office was even contem­
plating a complete abolition of the High Commission.
In any event they
had decided that extra-territorial questions were now to be confined "within
the narrowest limits", and it had become "a fairly open question whether the
Transvaal should not be retroceded".8 In these words was a clear confession
that Isandhlwana had made the policy of confederation all but moribund.
Frere's metropolitan support had crumbled; and colonial support was being
steadily eroded - as this comment by his enemies among Cape opposition
politicians indicates:
"Although B [Frere] is patted on the back with a few oily words and
well-turned phrases, it is as clear a smack in the face as one need care to
see administered to their arch enemy.'"
Meanwhile Wolseley had arrived and was soon drawing comparisons, to
Frere's disadvantage, between their relative situations as co-ordinate British
High Commissioners in the sub-continent:
"... he [Frere] and I hold exactly equal positions in a civil line - indeed
I was given powers that were expressly denied to him, the power of
making peace [in Zululand] on such terms as I deemed proper - and
in addition to all the 'dignity' of these civil honours I am in command
of all the troops in South Africa. The Transvaal and Natal and the
country north of it, over which Frere had some undefined authority, are
now directly under me and he has no more to do with them than he has
with Timbuctoo ..."10
Nevertheless, with the example before him of how dangerous it had earlier
been for Frere to employ all his plenary powers as High Commissioner in
preparing Southern Africa for confederation, Wolseley was ultra-circumspect.
If there were to be further errors along the road to what he believed to be
the mirage of confederation, he was determined that these should be Frere's
and Frere's alone:
"I believe that, if Sir B. Frere can have his fighting instincts calmed down,
he will have a better chance of carrying out Confederation than any other
man has had, or is likely to have. He is most popular with all classes
from having identified himself with the Colonist view."ll
Leaving Wolseley to the really serious work of pacification in Zululand,
Frere should therefore prosecute his efforts at union among the common
colonial herd of "Grocers and Chemists".12
This denigration of Frere was not confined to personal communications
with the Secretary of State in London. As war correspondents of British
newspapers, Wolseley's staff officers had a convenient public platform for
undermining Frere's credibility. It was therefore small wonder that relations
between the two High Commissioners became severely strained. This was es­
pecially true after Cetshwayo's final defeat, when Wolseley produced what
Frere called the "sadly aborted"l3 Zulu settlement upon the basis of "divide and
don't rule". Before it, Frere had urged Wolseley to guarantee security for
Published with graterul acknowledgment to the Cape Town Archives Depot.
Puolished with grateful acknowledgment to the Cape Town Arch ives Depot.
41 Isandlzlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
Natal so that the Cape would consider uniting with the smaller colony under
the confederation scheme. Yet with the Zululand settlement now a fait accom­
pli, there still seemed no way open to Frere to bring home to the London au­
thorities how much it had complicated the larger plan for consolidation in the
sub-continent. Wolse1ey's arrangements in Zululand had staunch defenders
among his so-called war correspondents, who naturally had a vested interest
in discrediting any alternative that Frere might have had in mind:
"Sir Bartle Frere would probably have annexed the country, would have
harassed it with missionaries, and would have compelled the Zulu child­
ren to attend school ..."14
An outbreak of open hostility between old enemies in the Transkei, the
Mpondo and Xesibe, brought further disillusionment for Frere. When asking
for limited military support here, he explained politely to Wolseley that he did
not want to be "at cross purposes with what is considered by you, from a
Natal point of view, as desirable".15 But Wolseley's reply was both rude and
designed to put his co-High Commissioner very firmly in his place:
"... I am Governor and Commander in Chief (besides being the military
officer in direct and immediate command) in Natal and the Transvaal.
I mention this because it would seem to me ... that you think your
Commission as [Cape] Comdr in Chief gives you some power over the
troops in Natal."16
The Colonial Office in Downing Street duly backed Wolseley's view; so
Pondoland became another point of divergence between the London metropole
and the Cape High Commissioner.
In the Transvaal, too, certain earlier doubts that Frere had about Wolseley's
abilities outside his military calling were confirmed by the latter's high­
handed treatment of the sullen Boers. After his visit of mid-1879 Frere had
felt he had laid the foundation of some sort of an understanding in that
quarter. He was therefore worried to see Wolseley's mailed fist replace his
own velvet glove in relations with the fractious Boers (a year later Majuba
would prove him right). In a mediatory capacity he felt he could still have
done something with the Transvaal, but no official correspondence from that
territory or Natal passed any longer through his hands; and he was consis­
tently denied "... the fullest information necessary for any co-operation."17
The crucial impulse towards concerted action that had once been transmitted
through Frere's High Commission, especially as it had given him surveillance
over the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal and the Administrator of the Trans­
vaal, had been decisively interrupted. For the desperate Frere this division and
dissipation of authority seemed to run against the established imperial policy
of the last forty years - of maintaining "some representative, such as the
High Commissioner, of the inherent authority and prerogatives of the
Crown."18 As he put it:
"Since Wolseley came out every act of the Government at home has been
to disintegrate and separate, instead of combining and uniting. Some day,
no doubt, the pendulum will go the other way, and the authority of
government will be concentrated again in one pair of hands ..."19
42 lsandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
In the circumstances it is surprising that Frere did not resign. One explana­
tion for this is to be found in the private representations to stay on that were
made by the Prince of Wales, by Hicks-Beach (the Secretary of State for
Colonies), and by Frere's other political supporters and admirers. And yet
even these personal factors tended also to work against him. As a member of
the Prince of Wales's circle and as a favoured adviser of the Queen herself,
Frere was also associated in the minds of Wolseley and his accolytes with the
Queen's cousin, the Duke of Cambridge, whose long-term grip upon the
British Army, as Commander-in-Chief, they were determined to break in the
interests of modernization.
The other - and undoubtedly the main - explanation for Frere's decision
to hang on grimly was his determination to carry confederation through, come
what might. Again, it is a measure of his personal obsession with this overrid­
ing purpose that he could not perceive that Isandhlwana and its sequel in the
Zululand settlement had really put this beyond even his remarkable capacity
to achieve. In particular, the truncation of his authority had now left him with
only one narrow base from which to operate - the Cape. And here all his
power rested upon the support of the ministry of the "Easterner", J. Gordon
Sprigg's own position was, in reality, precarious. The main forces of Cape
politics were still to be found in the western districts, but they had been
temporarily thrown into disarray by the powerful combination that Frere and
Sprigg, in unison, had been able to deploy against them. Frere's gamble in
dismissing Molteno's and Merriman's "western" Cape ministry in February
1878 (because, basically, they opposed the more forceful aspects of his policy
of confederation) had paid off - but only temporarily. As soon as Frere's
star had begun to wane, the forces that he and Sprigg had momentarily dis­
persed began to coalesce once more. This regrouping took time, but Sprigg
and Frere both saw that, unless the Cape could be convinced that the security
position in the black territories of the Transkei, Basutoland, and, especially,
in distant Zululand had been stabilized, the colony would not consent to
confederate with outlying entities like Natal, which would more than likely
prove to be a long term liability. To rush the colony on the issue of con­
federation would, moreover, encourage the very movement toward the
coalescence of opposition forces that they were determined to avoid. As
Frere put it:
"They are shrewd critics and will not be content to confederate with any
part of S. Africa, pacified or ruled to suit Colenso and the Aborigines
Protn. Socy. - a settlement which might satisfy John Bull, for the
moment, will not satisfy them, either Dutchmen or English."2o
Unfortunately for Frere, these warnings fell on deaf ears in London. With
the House of Commons breathing down his neck on the question of South
African expenditure, Hicks-Beach wanted some definite moves towards con­
federation to take place. Frere was now clearly unprepared to rock the boat
of Cape politics, but the Secretary of State felt he could do this himself by
using the issue of the Transkei for leverage. Here Frere's original idea had been
to establish a great consolidated black "reserve" which would ultimately be
lsandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
incorporated as a separately identifiable and ruled entity in the future con­
federation. But the malaise after Isandhlwana had undermined this scheme;
and Frere - as he explained to Hicks-Beach - found himself obliged to
align with Sprigg's and the Cape's old-established policy of "absorbing" out­
lying frontier territories piecemeal.
Hicks-Beach himself was hesitant about
consenting to allow the colony carte blanche in the Transkei, but he intimated
that he would be prepared to connive at a process of "creeping annexation"
by the Cape - provided the latter would move positively toward confedera­
But the reaction at the Cape was negative: hostile colonials merely stigma­
tised Hicks-Beach's despatch of June 1879 as a sordid metropolitan "bribe":
"There is something humiliating in the thought that an adviser and
minister of the British Crown is not ashamed of having recourse to a
threat so childlike and immoral. "23
Frere's own reaction betrayed his exasperation. He had begun to feel that
he may have been making some headway with the Cape Dutch, but Hicks­
Beach had then spoilt it all:
"... they were beginning to feel much confidence in our management
of the proposed union, when this ill-timed Dispatch, following on what
they interpret as an intended slap-in-the-face to me, alarms them. Merri­
man is assiduous in his attempts to get them to trust him . . . this
confederation dispatch has been a godsend to him ...""1
When Gladstone's second ministry took office in Britain in April 1880, the
new Secretary of State for Colonies, Lord Kimberley, took an even stronger line
than his predecessor, Hicks-Beach, on the issue of the Transkei. Unless
Sprigg's Cape ministry could reassure the British government that adequate
legal codes would be established in the territories, there would be an imperial
veto upon any colonial moves to annex.
One reason for Kimberley's intransigence on the issue of the Transkei was
his anger at the way Frere and Sprigg were co-operating to put pressure upon
the BaSotho to give up their rifles. This Cape policy of disarmament would,
he predicted, lead to inevitable hostilities. In the event, he proved correct,
though the BaSotho "Gun War" broke out just after Frere's own departure.
The ominous prelude to it was, however, instrumental in further undermining
his reputation in British government circles.
After Gladstone's magnificent moralising on the shortcomings of Disraeli's
and Hicks-Beach's South African policy during his electoral campaigns in the
Midlothian in 1879 and early 1880, it is surprising that his incoming Liberal
ministry did not immediately dismiss the main object of their wrath, Sir
Bartle Frere. The reason for this omission was their belief that Frere was
still the only man-on-the-spot in South Africa who might yet be able to do
something to revitalise the policy of confederation. With this achieved, it
was still vaguely conceivable that a political entity strong enough to look
after itself and reduce British imperial expenditure - the main plank of the
Liberal electoral campaign - would still emerge in the sub-continent.
Frere had meanwhile been pressing Sprigg to move on the issue - and in­
44 lsandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
deed the small, consequential Cape Premier did prove true to his promises
and his mentor. In June 1880 he duly brought resolutions forward in the Cape
Assembly for a consultative conference of sixteen delegates on the question
of confederation. But it was a forlorn hope; Isandhlwana and its sequel had
virtually ruined all practical possibilities of success. In particular, Paul
Kruger and Pi et Joubert had come down from the Transvaal to lobby the
Cape Opposition caucus on the vagaries of recent British policy in the northern
and eastern parts of the sub-continent. They found a willing ally in Merriman,
whose dismissal at Frere's hands two years before had made him an implacable
enemy of the whole genus of "prancing proconsuls". This combined influence
upon the Cape Opposition alliance proved too strong for Sprigg. He was
obliged to accept the "previous question" during the debate - which effec­
tively vetoed the whole question of confederation. Excepting Frere, who could
still talk euphemistically of a "postponement","s no one - least of all the
British government - deluded themselves that confederation was any longer
The new British Liberal ministry had never really been committed to con­
federation. The Cape's verdict was therefore accepted. Its consequence, the
recall of the Cape High Commissioner, followed logically. With more than
half the British ministry actively pressing for his dismissal, there were now no
longer any good arguments for retaining Frere. In August 1880 the announce­
ment was made to a cheering House of Commons that Sir Bartle had been
sacked. Three and a half years after departing with high hopes and sublime
self-confidence to South Africa Frere found himself eating the Dead Sea
fruit of defeat and denigration.
Within a further three years he was dead. During the remainder of his
lifetime his own attempts and those of his friends to rehabilitate his reputation
had proved vain. It is true that the Queen had him come up to Balmoral, that
the Prince of Wales ostentatiously paraded his friendship, and that Carnarvon,
also in retirement, commiserated with him. But this flurry of sentiment could
not obscure the stark reality of failure. Frere's health rapidly declined and in
early 1884 he died (allegedly, in some quarters, of a "broken heart").26
It is a cliche that South Africa was a "graveyard of governors' reputations".
But the fall of Bartle Frere has a drama and an inexorability that makes it
more than normally arresting. About it there is, as was earlier pointed out, an
aura of high, classical tragedy. Frere embodied all the qualities that make
for success - except one. He was charming, cultivated, academic, clever, ex­
perienced, ruthless - but he was too self-confident, too accustomed to having
his own way, too used to ignoring the magnitude of the obstacles that con­
fronted him. The strange concatenation of military errors that led to disaster
at Isandhlwana in January 1879 cannot be directly attributed to him, but in­
diretly there is a causal connection. Moreover, the blithe way in which he
launched upon the Zulu War reminds the observer of his cavalier dismissal
of the Cape ministry. his slick half-promises to the Transvaalers, his careless
promotion of the Cape's Transkeian schemes and his unqualified support for
BaSotho disarmament. Sooner or later a reckoning had to come - and it
came sooner, rather than later - at Isandhlwana. In the long term this
disaster and the fatal over-confidence that it symbolised assured the passing
of the most highly acclaimed imperial proconsul who had yet ruled Southern
Africa. J. A. BENYON
45 Isandhlwana and the Passing of a Proconsul
I. Carnarvon Papers, P.R.O. 30/6/33, f 1: Carnarvon to Frere, 13 Oct., 1876.
2. See for an early indication of this thinking Br. Pari. Papers C 2000, 104: Frere to
Carnarvon, 31 Dec., 1877; CF. Goodfellow: Great Britain and South African
Confederation (Cape Town, O.V.P., 1966), 157 et seq.
3. Daily News, 8 July 1879, p 4.
4. St. Aldwyn Papers, PCC 2/7: Frere to Hicks-Beach, 27 Jan., 1879.
5. Public Rec. Office C.O. 48/489: Minute by Fairfield 10 Mar. on Frere to Hicks­
Beach, 26 Jan., 1879.
6. St Aldwyn Papers, PCC 2/24: Frere to Hicks-Beach, 21 June 1879.
7. Public Rec. Office, CO. 48/492 War OtIke: Minutes by Fairfield & Herbert 20 &
22 Dec. on V-Sec for War to Herbert, 19 Dec., 1879.
8. Ibid., CO. 48/490: Minute by Fairfield 9 Aug., on Frere to Hicks-Beach, 15 July
1879; CO. 48/489: Minute by Herbert 2 Apr., on Frere to Hicks-Beach, 20 Feb.,
9. Merriman Papers, No. 64 of 1879: Sivewright to Mrs Merriman, 22 June 1879.
10. Wolseley Papers, Autograph Collection, \V.P./8, No. 23: Wolseley to his wife, 29
Aug., 1879.
11. St Aldwyn Papers, PCC 6/4: Wolseley to Hicks-Beach, 25 Sept., 1879.
12. For quote see Ibid., PCC 6/21: Wolseley to Hicks-Beach, 9 Feb., 1880.
13. Ibid., PCC 3/17: Frere to Hicks-Beach, 23 Aug., 1880.
14. Cape Argus, 6 Dec., 1879, quoting Times correspondent.
15. Natal Archives Depot, G.H., H.C. S.E. Africa, 1: Frere to Wolseley, MiI., No. 3,
23 Aug., 1879.
16. Wolseley Papers, Letterbk S.A. 1,193: Wolseley to Frere, 12 Dec., 1879.
17. St. Aldwyn Papers, PCC 3/17: Frere to Hicks-Beach, 23 Aug., 1880.
18. Public Rec. CO. 48/490: Frere to Hicks-Beach, No. 241, 19 Aug., 1879.
19. St. Aldywyn Papers, PCC 3/17: Frere to Hicks-Beach, 23 Aug., 1880.
20. Wolseley Papers, Autograph Collection "Frerc" folder, No. 2: Frere to Wolseley,
private, 20 July 1879.
21. St. Aldwyn Papers, PCC 3/14: Frere to Hicks-Beach, I Apr., 1880.
22. Br. Pari Papers 1879, (C 2454), 50-2: Hicks-Beach to Frere, 12 June 1879.
23. Cape Standard and Mail. 12 July 1879.
24. Wolseley Papers, Autograph Collection, "Frere" folder, No. 2: Frere to Wolseley,
20 July 1879.
25. Public Rec. Office, C.O. 48/494: Frere to Kimberley, Confdtl., 8 July 1880.
26. See Lord Grey's remark Times. 24 Nov., 1899.
Saving the Queen's Colour
Just one hundred years ago, Cetewayo, King of the Zulus, pitted his Impi
against the might of the British Army. On 22nd January, 1879, 11 days
after the British invaded Zululand, he dealt Lord Chelmsford's army a
crippling blow at Isandhlwana, but that same evening his men were turned
back into Zululand by the defenders of Rorke's Drift. Victoria, Queen of
England, approved the award of eleven Victoria Crosses to the defenders
of Rorke's Drift. Thirty years later, when the first posthumous awards of
the Victoria Cross were made, two other Anglo-Zulu War heroes, Lieu­
tenant Teignmouth Melvill and Lieutenant Nevill Coghill, who had lost
their lives in trying to carry the Queen's Colour of the 24th Regiment to
safety across the Buffalo River after Isandhlwana, were honoured in this way.
Letters announcing the posthumous awards of the Victoria Cross, were
sent to the nearest relatives of the dead soldiers, Sir Egerton Coghill and
Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Melvill. The former letter, now in the possession of
Sir Patrick Coghill, reads
012/2199 (M.S.3.)
War Office,
London, S.W.,
6th February, 1907
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the
Decoration of the Victoria Cross being delivered to the representatives
of those who fell in the performance of acts of valour, and with
reference to whom it was officially notified that they would have been
recommended to Her late Majesty for that distinction had they sur­
I have therefore to transmit to you a Victoria Cross engraved with
the name of your late brother Lieutenant N. J. A. Coghill, 24th Foot,
who was killed whilst endeavouring to save the life of Lieutenant
Melvill, after the disaster at Isandhlawana, Zululand, on 22nd January,
1879, and I am convinced that it would have afforded Her late Majesty
the greatest satisfaction to have personally decorated Lieutenant Coghill
had it pleased Providence to spare his life.
An extract from the 'London Gazette', recording the act of courage,
for which the distinguished honour has been awarded, is forwarded
You are requested to acknowledge receipt of this communication and
its enclosures.
Your obedient servant,
R. B. Haldane.
Saving the Queen's Colour
Sir E. B. Coghill, Bart.,
Glen Barrahane,
Castle Townshend,
Co. Cork.
This article is primarily a tribute to Melvill and Coghill, but is also
intended as a tribute to the other British and Zulu soldiers who died bravely
that day, but whose valour has not been acknowledged, simply because no
eyewitnesses survived to give the necessary testimony.
Melvill and Coghill died while attempting to carry the Queen's Colour of
the If24th Regiment to safety. What motivated them to give their lives
for 'a banner on a pole'? Were they really heroes, or was Wo1seley being
unfair when he wrote:
'I saw the graves of Melvill and Coghill. I am sorry that both of those
officers were not killed with their men at Isandhlawana instead of where
they are. I don't like the idea of officers escaping on horseback when
their men on foot were killed'.2
Wolseley was one of the new breed of soldiers who saw the whole pursuit
of war as a science, with little room for sentiment. It is possible that he
made this somewhat vituperative remark because he did not consider regi­
mental traditions (in this case, those surrounding the Colour) to be of
sufficient importance to warrant officers leaving their men on the field of
In order to attempt an assessment of the validity of the heroism of MelvilI
and Coghill, it is necessary to investigate the significance which the Colour
holds for those serving under it. Modern works of reference, such as the
Encyclopaedia Britannica Ill, pay scant attention to the subject of military
Colours. The best exposition is given in the 11th (1910) edition of that work. 3
When man first recognised the value of banding together in battle, he
soon realised the value of holding aloft an easily visible insignia, which
would act as a rallying point for his comrades. This insignia would also
indicate the position of the leader of a group during battle. The Roman
Army used the eagle (aquila) carried by the standard bearer, as the insignia.
The banner of the individual knight gained a spiritual quality during the
Middle Ages, in that it began to signify the whole corporate body of men
serving under it.
By the 16th Century, the term 'Colour' was commonly used for this
banner, and an intense feeling of regimental unity was fostered by the
observance of ceremonies based upon the Colour. It is here that we find the
origins of ceremonies such as 'saluting' and 'trooping' the Colour.
The capture or loss of the Colour in battle indicated the dispersal of the
regiment and had at all costs to be avoided. This led to many dangerous
situations, and many soldiers died in defence of their Colour. Melvill and
Coghill were the last British soldiers to give their lives for a British Colour.
for, as a result of their deaths, Queen Victoria forbade the carrying of the
Colour into battle, believing that its defence constituted unnecessary danger to
rash young subalterns.
It is clear then, that the Colour signified the corporate body of the
Regiment. It is neither impossible, nor without precedent, that, no matter
Saving the Queen's Colour
what their original motive for fleeing Isandhlwana might have been, both
Melvill and Coghill, in the final instance, forfeited their lives by trying to
carry their Colour to safety.
Who, then, were Lieutenant Melvill and Lieutenant Coghill? They were
both officers of the 24th Regiment, and gentlemen by birth.
Nevill Coghill was a prolific letter writer and diarist
and much informa­
tion about his activities and his character can be gleaned from his writings
and, further, a short biographical memoir which was published in 1968
by his nephew, Sir Patrick Coghill, gives more information on his early life.
Coghill was born in 1852, the eldest son of Sir John Joscelyn Coghill and
Katherine Frances Plunkett. The family lived first in Dublin and later in
Castle Townshend, Co. Cork. He was educated at Haileybury College,
where he showed an early interest in sport, as might be expected of a
typically Victorian gentleman who thoroughly enjoyed Irish society. On
26th February, 1873, he was gazetted sub-lieutenant, and posted to the 24th
Regiment of Foot. His first posting was Gibraltar and, three years later.
in 1876, he first sailed for the Cape with his regiment.
Coghill's companion in death, Teignmouth Melvill, was the son of Philip
Melvill of the East India Company. He was born in London in 1842, and
was therefore ten years senior to Nevill Coghill. He received an excellent
education at Harrow and Cambridge. His gazetting to the 24th Regiment
was in 1868, and nothing further is known of his career until he sailed for
the Cape with the 1/24th in 1875. He served as adjutant to the 1/24th from
1878 until his death in Zululand. Unlike Nevill Coghill, who was a bachelor,
Melvill was a married man with two children.
During 1876 and 1877 an explosive situation began to build up in South
Africa. The Xhosa on the Cape Border were restless, and soon it was
necessary to subdue Kreli. Lord Carnarvon was planning his federal policy,
which led, in 1877, to the annexation of the Transvaal by Sir Theophilus
Shepstone, and to the invasion of Zululand in 1879. Also, Sir Bartle Frere,
who was to take up such an intractable stance against Cetewayo, was
appointed Governor of the Cape Colony.
At this time, too, the principal British Army protagonists of the Anglo­
Zulu war were assembling at the Cape. The veteran 1/24th arrived in the
Cape in 1875, and was re-inforced in 1878 by the less experienced 2/24th.
Colonel Sir Evelyn Wood and Major Redvers Buller were serving on the
Eastern Frontier and building up the formidable Frontier Light Horse, a
force which was later to play an active and successful role in Zululand.
Colonel Glyn was posted to the Staff in Cape Town, supported by Teign­
mouth Me1vill as Battalion Adjutant, and the Honourable Frederic Thesiger
(afterwards Lord Chelmsford) assumed command in 1878 from Sir Alex­
ander Cunyngham. Nevill Coghill was A.D.C. to Cunyngham, a position
he later resumed under Thesiger when he returned from home leave.
There was some talk of Coghill's taking over the Adjutancy from Melvill,
who was due to attend a Staff College Course.
Thesiger was, however,
loathe to let Melvill return to England, as trouble with the Zulus was
already brewing, and it was vital that the Regiment should retain the services
of its experienced staff officers. So Melvill stayed with the Regiment and
marched up into Zululand, whilst Coghill left for Pietermaritzburg with the
Published with grateful acknowledgment to R. LEVITT Esq. , Durban.
Published with grateful acknowledgment to R. l.EVITT Esq .. Durban.
49 Saving the Queen's Colour
It is important to note that nowhere in the Coghill letters and diaries,
written whilst he was at the Cape, is any friendship with Melvill indicated.
Their relationship appears to have been nothing more than a casual regi­
mental acquaintanceship.
The events which led to the outbreak of the Zulu War are well docu­
mented elsewhere and are beyond the province of this article. Suffice it
to say that, when the Ultimatum presented to Cetewayo expired on 10th
January, 1879, Lord Chelmsford invaded Zululand using a three-pronged
attack. Number 1 column, led by Colonel Pearson, 3rd Buffs, entered
Zululand across the Tugela River near its mouth at Fort Pearson. No. 4
column, under Evelyn Wood, was based at Dundee to the North of Zulu­
The main advance was launched from Helpmekaar and Rorke's Drift.
The backbone of this column was the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 24th
Foot under command of Colonel Glyn. The column, accompanied by the
Commander-in-Chief, forded the Buffalo River into Zululand at daybreak
on 11th January, 1879. Nevill Coghill wrote the following description in
his new diary:
'It was a raw and misty morning, the mist rising every now and then
and disclosing the disposition of our forces as they pushed across, but
there was no sign of an enemy . . .'8
The column marched safely into Zulu territory and on 12th January
attacked Chief Sirayo's9 kraal and by the 20th was encamped at the foot
of Isandhlwana Hill. Here Coghill made the following entry in his diary:
' ... On the way home we found some fowls at a deserted kraal and in
capturing them I put my knee out which kept me in my tent for some
days ...10
His knee was still causing trouble on the 22nd January and he remained
in camp at Isandhlwana when, early that morning, Lord Chelmsford set
out from the camp with a reconnaissance-in-force led by Colonel Glyn. The
camp was left in charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Pulleine {l/24th) with five
companies of men. Major Clery, Principal Staff Officer, later remembered
discussing the orders with Pulleine and his adjutant, Melvill. Cleryll reported
later that Pulleine was ordered to draw in his line of defence, set outposts
and advance cavalry vedettes. These orders were not carried out-his
force remained deployed. It is claimed that the picquets were inadequate,
as were the entrenchments. No laager was drawn, as Lord Chelmsford felt
that this would be a waste of time. According to the official records of the
24th Regiment, Melvi11 had earlier expressed concern at the state of the
camp, particularly at the decision not to laager.
'I know what you are thinking by your face, Sir: you are abusing this
camp and you are quite right. These Zulus will charge home and with
our small numbers we ought to be in laager .. .'12
A detailed study of the battle of Isandhlwana is not necessary here, having
Saving the Queen's Colour
been investigated elsewhere.
What is of concern is to try to follow, where
possible, the movements of Melvill and Coghill. It can be presumed that
Melvill, as adjutant, saw to the execution of orders issued by Pulleine and
Colonel Durnford, and was probably one of the party of senior officers who
"lunched" together in camp before the main attack. 14
Coghill was probably pottering around, nursing his game knee. This
presumption is based upon the fact that Coghill was wearing a blue patrol
jacket when he escaped from Isandhlwana.
The blue patrol jacket was
standard undress uniform,'6 and was not normally worn on active duty.
However, there is no doubt that by 12.30 p.m. the camp was under
attack, and a very serious situation had developed. Soon after the first Zulu
attack, Melvill rode out to call in the far-flung line held by Captain Essex.
The situation deteriorated very rapidly, and organised resistance by the
British had collapsed by 3 o'clock. Before Colonel Pulleine was killed, he
is believed to have charged Melvill to escape with the Colour.
Further information is supplied by Lieutenant Curling, R.A., who gave
evidence at the Court of Enquiry held at Helpmekaar on 27th January. After
losing two guns from N. Battery, Curling returned to the camp, only to find
the enemy had taken possession of it. He then fled towards Natal along the
Fugitives' Road. 'We saw Lieutenant Coghill, the A.D.C., and asked him
if we could not rally and make a stand; he said he did not think it could
be done.' A little later he again met Coghill 'who told me Colonel Pulleine
had been killed'. Curling only saw Melvill once. 'Near the river I saw
Lieutenant Melville (sic) 1st Battalion 24th Regiment with a colour, the
staff being broken.'1"
The road to Fugitives' Drift was a nightmare. General Sir Horace Smith­
Dorrien (at that time a subaltern in the 99th Foot), lived to tell of his
'After the desperate combat at Isandhlawana a scene of utter confusion
seems to have occurred-horse and foot, black and white, English and
Zulu, all in a struggling mass, making through the camp towards the
road, where the Zulus had already closed the way of escape. The ground
there down to the river was so broken that the Zulus went as fast as
the horses, killing all the way. '20
Fifty years later he recorded:
'I was passed by Lieutenant Coghill of the Twenty Fourth, wearing a
blue patrol jacket and cord breeches, and riding a roan horse ... When
approaching Fugitives' Drift, and at least half a mile behind Coghill,
Lieutenant Melvill of the 24th, in a red coat, with a cased colour across
the front of his saddle, passed me going to the Drift ... It will thus be
seen that Coghill (who was orderly to Colonel Glyn) and Melvill (who
was adjutant) did not escape together. '21
They reached the drift together with Lieutenant Higginson (l/3rd N.N.C.)
who remembered:
'... I put my horse into the river and poor Melvill was also thrown;
Saving the Queen's Colour
he held on tightly to the Queen's Colour, which he had taken from the
field of battle when all was over, and as he came down towards me he
called out to me to catch hold of the pole. I did so and the force with
which the current was running dragged me off the rock to which I clung
but fortunately into still water. Coghill, who had got his horse over
all right, came riding back down the bank to help Melvill, and as he
put his horse in, close to us, the Zulus who were 25 yards from us on
the other bank commenced firing at us in the water. Almost the first
shot killed Coghill's horse, and on his getting clear of him we started
for the bank and managed to get out all right . . . When we had gone
a few yards further Melvill said he could go no further and Coghill
said the same (I don't think they imagined at this time there was anyone
following us.) When they stopped, I pushed on reaching the top of the
hill. I found four Basuto with whom I escaped by holding on to a
horse's tail. '22
The defence of Rorke's Drift by the garrison under Lieutenant Chard
stayed any possible invasion of Natal. But Chelmsford's decimated forces
were in total disarray. Not since the massacre at Chilianwhalla in 1849, had
an attack on an encampment of the British Army had such disastrous
results, and, in both cases, it was the 24th Regiment which took the brunt
of the attack.
It was the 4th February before Colonel Glyn felt sufficiently confident
of his situation to send a patrol out to search for survivors of the disaster,
and to look for the missing Colours.23 Lieutenant Harford
(then Staff Officer
to Commandant Lonsdale), accompanied a party led by Major Black. His
diary records:
'... and as there was still sufficient of the afternoon left, Major Black
suggested that we should go a little further down, ... when suddenly
just off the track to the right of us, we saw two bodies, and on going
to have a look at them found that they were those of Lieutenant
Melville (sic) and Coghill. Both of them were clearly recognisable.
Melville was in red, and Coghill in blue uniform, both were lying on
their backs about a yard from each other. Melville at right angles to
the path and Coghill parallel with it. a little above Melville and with
his head uphill, both assegaied but otherwise untouched.'
However, the patrol could not find the Colour. They continued the search
the following day, and the Colour and its case were found by Harford in
the Buffalo River, some 500 yards downstream. It was an emotional
moment, Lieutenant Harford and his companions breaking into spontaneous
cheering. The Colour was ceremoniously saluted by the rest of the search
party before they returned to Rorke's Drift, with Major Black carrying the
cased Colour aloft. The Colour was met there by a guard of honour, and
the whole garrison also turned out to welcome it. Then the Colour was
carried to Helpmekaar, and Harford, who had found it, was privileged to
be standard bearer: a unique occasion, in that an officer of another regiment
(the 99th) carried the Queen's Colour of the 24th. The Colour was again
honoured by a full salute.
Saving the Queen's Colour
Higginson's story of the incident at the river touched the hearts of all
Englishmen, and when the Colour returned to England with the 24th Regi­
ment, Queen Victoria crowned it with a wreath of Immortelles, and the
following message was sent to the Adjutant-General:
'As a lasting token of her act of placing a wreath on the Queen's
Colour to commemorate the devotion displayed by Lieutenants Melvill
and Cog hill in their heroic endeavour to save the Colour on January
22nd, 1879, and of the noble defence of Rorke's Drift, Her Majesty has
been graciously pleased to command that a silver wreath shall in future
be borne on the peak of the staff of the Queen's Colour of the Twenty­
Fourth Regiment.'25
This colour is now honourably laid up in Brecon Cathedral. There is
little doubt that, in the final instance, both Teignmouth Melvill and Nevill
Coghill died for their regimental Colour.
Salute the brave!
Non dormit qui custodit. 3"
1. GREAT BRITAIN WAR OFFICE (Haldane). Letter to Sir E. Coghill, 6.2.1907
National Army Museum ex Coghill.
2. PRESTON, Adrian Ed. Sir Garnet Wolseley's South African journal, 1879-1880.
Cape Town: Balkema, 1973, p. 70.
3. ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA 11th ed. v. 6. p. 729.
This is perhaps an indication that Wolseley's ideals of scientific warfare have
triumphed. The fact that there is no relevant entry in Encyclopaedia Britannica Ill,
published in 1973, reflects to some extent a change in emphasis as far as "tradi­
tional" military matters are concerned.
4. Fifty-two of his South African letters survive. as well as two diaries. The first.
1877-1878, is held by the South Wales Borderers Museum, Brecon, and the second,
which was miraculously recovered intact from the battlefield at Isandhlwana, has
recently been donated by Sir Patrick Coghill to the National Army Museum,
5. COG HILL, Patrick comp. Whom the Gods love. Halesowen: the author, 1968.
6. MCKINNON, J. P., and SHADBOLT, S. South African campaign of 1879 ...
London, Low Marston. 1880.
His son, Tip Melvill, was to serve with distinction in his father's regiment until
1905. Private communication: Major Egerton, South Wales Borderers Museum,
7. COGHILL, Nevill. Diary 1879. Unpublished MSS. National Army Museum, Lon­
8. Ibid.
9. The family of Chief Sirayo was blamed to a great extent for the declaration of war.
His sons killed two of his runaway wives, after abducting them from sanctuary in
Natal. The punishment of Sirayo's sons formed one of the demands of the ulti­
10. Ibid.
11. W/O 33-34. Evidence given by Major Clery. London: Public Record Office.
12. PATON, George, et al. Historical records of the 24th Regiment. London, Simkin,
1892. p. 230.
13. An excellent discussion has been written by Jackson, F.W.D., Isandhlawana 1879
-the sources re-examined (In: I. Army Historical Research, v. 43: 1965 pp '30-43'
113-132: 169-183.) ,. •
53 Saving the Queen's Colour
14. W/O 33-34, p. 291.
15. SMITH-DORRIEN, H. Memories of forty-eight years' service. London: Murray,
1925. p. 16.
16. McBRIDE, A. The Zulu War. London: Osprey, 1976. p. 37 and private communi­
cation, Sandhurst Military College, 1976.
17. C 2260. Evidence given by Captain Essex. p. 83.
18. ATKINSON, C. T. The South Wales Borderers, 24th Foot, 1639-1937. Cambridge:
U.P., 1937. p. 345.
19. C 2260.
20. SMITH-DORRIEN, H. (In: Illustrated London News, 29.3.1879).
21. SMITH-DORRIEN, Memol'ies . .. p. 16.
22. HIGGINSON, W. Letter to Sir J. CoghiII. National Anny Museum: London, n.d.
ex Coghill.
23. Each marching regiment had two Colours: a Regimental Colour and The Queen's/
King's Colour. In January 1879 the Regimental Colour of the 1/24th had been
left at Helpmekaar and only the Queen's Colour carried into Zululand. The two
Colours of the 2/24th were both taken into Zululand and were lost at Isandhlwana.
24. HARFORD, H. C. Diary, Natal 1879. Unpublished manuscript, Local History
Museum: Durban.
25. ATKINSON ... p. 358.
26. He who guards does not sleep.
Soldiers' letters from the
Zulu War:
A source of historico-geographical value
A hundred years ago Natal was a colony with its own garrison of British
troops. The most tangible reminder of that state of affairs today is the old
military cemetery of Fort Napier, with its epitaphs not only to dead soldiers
but also to regiments that no longer exist. Historically speaking, it is diffi­
cult to reconstruct the attitudes and perceptions people held about events
or other people in past times-it is often difficult enough to reconstruct how
many people there were, what they did, where they lived, let alone their
principles or prejudices. How did the citizens of Pietermaritzburg, for
instance, regard the Imperial soldiers stationed in their town? We have a
pointer to this in a book published in 1897 by Natalian (the author does not
name himself) entitled A South African Boy: Schoolboy Life in Natal. It is
clear from what he says that his memories ran back to the 1870s and 1880s,
when the British fought campaigns against their Bapedi, Zulu, Basuto, and
Boer opponents. As a colonist, he was not impressed with the army in its
social and military spheres. "Tommy Atkins and his superiors", he says,
"were not an unmixed blessing to the community".
The Victorian officers were often too full of their own importance, con­
scious of their blue blood and distinguished pedigree. They condescended to
nothing colonial except "to flirt with and break the hearts of the simple­
minded damsels of the better classes". At the other end of the social ladder,
the ordinary soldiers merely amused themselves "with the coloured servant­
girl and half-caste washerwoman". Such comments are rare, as indicative
of the gulf that stretches between then and now as they are of the Imperial
garrison itself. Natalian does not pull his punches at all when he turns to
its military prowess. "The fighting record of the British soldier in South
Africa", he writes (before the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, let it be
remembered), "is not a brilliant one, his shooting, and his panic-stricken
fear before the enemy, being a sad awakening for the colonial schoolboy
fresh from the glowing accounts of British valour on other shores". This
viewpoint is interesting because it reflects the particular events of the Zulu
War of 1879, when his criticism is most valid. Thus he itemizes the incom­
petence of British generals, a charge from which it would be difficult to
absolve Lord Chelmsford in 1879, also "the exploits of the poor half-grown
weeds that composed the bulk of the rank and file of our infantry regi­
ments". Some colonists, certainly, had a poor opinion of the soldier sent
out to fight Cetshwayo's army. Due to changes in military recruiting at
home, it is true that young, half-trained troops were thrown into battle in
Zululand. The 2/21st Regiment, for example, when it reached Durban in
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War
March 1879 as part of the hurried reinforcement, mustered some 780 private
soldiers. Of these, over 300 had been less than a year with the colours, and
117 (at the very least) were under 20 years of age.
Despite the strictures of Natalian, on the other hand, and the doubts
shared by some unknown stratum of his fellow colonists, these British
troops stuck to their thankless job and won through in the end. Leaving
aside the debate as to how much more efficiently and cheaply (in terms of
dead and wounded, sickness, discomfort, savagery, and hard cash) the
campaign could have been concluded, there is a valuable historical by-pro­
duct of the army's presence in Natal. By the closing stages of the war,
Chelmsford had a vast force under his command. Including troops of all
kinds-regulars, volunteers, levies, ancillaries-it numbered nearly 30000
men, not forgetting the brave band of women nurses who reached the
Durban hospital in June. Together they easily outnumbered the 20000
population of Natalians, and-given that even 20 per cent of them would
have written letters home-they must be reckoned to be a potential source
of news about the country and its people, as well as the fighting against
Cetshwayo's regiments. In terms of "information yield" they collectively
brought a searchlight of publicity and observation to bear upon this emergent
corner of Empire.
When I began to collect such letters for The Red Soldier, I fully expected
that the staff and regimental officers would hold a monopolizing share of
the correspondence, to the exclusion of the other ranks. Such is not the
case. No doubt the proportion of writers was a good deal higher among the
officers, but the lower proportion among the men nonetheless furnishes a
large number of letters that are as informative (if less polished) as the
officers'. Their writings were quite often published in the local newspaper at
home; others survive in regimental archives. Many correspondents of all
ranks had served in other parts of the Empire, and elsewhere in Africa,
for instance in Ethiopia and the Gold Coast; they could make comparisons
with their new experiences in Natal and Zululand. The hard core of regi­
ments that took part in the first invasions of January 1879 had also fought
previously in the "Old Colony" before moving up from the eastern Cape,
and knew something about the country. The levels of literacy, powers of
expression, and quality of writing are remarkably high among the other
ranks. This reflects the improvements then going on in education within
the army; the fact that certainly the younger soldiers would have benefited
from the Primary Education Act of 1870; and, so far as the much-involved
24th Regiment goes, the peculiarly high level of schooling among young
Welshmen, chiefly because of nonconformist religion and Sunday schools
at home.
As with any source that is used for understanding the past, the letters
pose problems in their proper interpretation. They are wholly personal and
therefore subjective, prone to the distortions or preconceptions of a single
point of view. They may be inaccurate as to their factual basis, wrong
either by commission or omission, as where they intend to exaggerate the
numbers of Zulus opposing them in a given battle or the number of Zulus
killed. As against that, the letter-writers were members of a single military
organisation, which presupposes a threshold of uniformity (of whatever
quality) in their experience, and so reduces the degree of variance in what
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War
they may say. In addition, there are so many of them that cross-checking
is possible. They were private letters written with no specific thought of
their publication, and therefore give a more genuine expression of views,
without the risk of special pleading. This is why, when some controversial
points from letters did appear in the British newspapers, there was such a
furore from people with particular axes to grind, for instance the Liberal
opponents of the war policy, or the Aborigines' Protection Society'S horror
at the killing of wounded Zulus after the battles of Kambula, Gingindhlovu,
and Ulundi.
To illustrate the letters here, it is best to take in turn what was said by
soldiers of different ranks, in ascending order, bearing in mind that the
subjects they cover were the Natal environment as perceived by them-the
country, its peoples, and their own business of warfare against a forbidding
enemy. Owen Ellis was a veteran private of the 1/24th who, on the last
day of 1878, wrote to his family at Caernarvon, North Wales.
"In this spot, Helpmekaar, the days are as fine as those of summer, but
we meet every night with heavy rains, accompanied by thunder and
lightning, which continue until six o'clock in the morning. On 12th
December there fell a heavy shower of hailstones which were as large
as your fists, making it dangerous for anyone to be out at the time.
One of them, weighed by the bandmaster, was three ounces in weight.
I saw a hen that had been killed by the shower. There is very good
cattle pasture here, far better than what is on the other side, viz. Trans­
kei, and this is beneficial to the farmers".
Three weeks later Ellis was killed at Isandhlwana, as was his regimental
comrade George Morris. He too wrote letters (to his mother at Pontypool)
from Helpmekaar, while the Third Column assembled to invade Zululand.
"I never seen such lightning in my life as in this country. I wish I was
a civilian here for some time. I could soon save a lot of money as
wages are very good here, and provisions not very dear. I suppose
by the time or before you receive this we shall be on active operations
against the Zulus, and they are very numerous and well armed, but
God protect the right. There are lots of wild animals around here, deer,
tigers (leopards?), jackals and poisonous snakes; the mosquitoes are a
regular nuisance."
Another victim of the impi at Isandhlwana was Sergeant John Lines of
the 2/24th, a long-service soldier whose letter is in a more basic style. By
October 1878 he was at Pietermaritzburg and even then did not relish the
prospect ahead:
"The Zulus have about 40 thousands of a standing army, and we have
only about 6 thousand Europeans and 9 thousand volunteers (mostly
Natal native levies), so I think we shall lose a good many, for they
are too strong for us. And these KafIirs are a very barbarous lot; if
they catch a man wounded they cut him open and take out his heart
and eat it. Africa is a very heathen place, much more so than England.
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War
You can get land for about 4 shillings an acre, and some of it good
land" .
Among the officers of the 2/24th, Lieutenant Willie Lloyd was out with
Chelmsford's half-column on the day of Isandhlwana. Afterwards he spent
the next few months bottled up "in this cursed hole" at Helpmekaar, whence
he wrote on 6th May:
"The difficulties of this country are something enormous. The trans­
port is all oxen, to drive them you must employ Kaffirs, and we have just
heard that Wood's foreloopers and drivers have run away. New ones
will have to be got from the old colony (British Kaffraria), as the ones
here can't be trusted, so that's another delay. The roads are fearful.
Food there is none, and the great danger now is the grass which is
about 8 or 9 feet high, and in a strong wind the grass burns at the rate
of about 6 or 7 miles an hour. . . I have had a little shooting here,
snipe, partridge, dikkop [diekap-otherwise known as the Cape thick­
knee. Ed.], buck of all sorts, rock rabbits, pigeons, etc. To give you
some idea of the changes that come round in 24 hours, in the middle
of the day a thermometer would be 115 or 120 in the sun, and when
you turn out at reveille there is often a thick white frost. The cold
has been something fearful here. We are on a high ridge and the wind
whistles over it sometimes enough to take the skin off even a Kaffir. I
have never been so cold at home but it's mostly dry, the only damp is
the mists and clouds that come roaring up a high kloof near the camp".
Not all the letter-writers were fully military men. Ralph Busby had joined
Chelmsford's column as a civilian surgeon, and also witnessed the carnage
at Isandhlwana. He found himself in the fort built at Rorke's Drift after
the fight there, and less than a fortnight later had this to say:
"All the farmers seem to have gone into laager, and left their houses.
I had a five and twenty miles ride to one-Fort Pine (between Rorke's
Drift and Dundee)-a few days back to see some who were sick there;
the few farms passed on the road were all deserted and cattle driven
off to near the laager. It's a queer sight inside, cramful of waggons,
women, and children. But I got a good square meal, some tender
mutton, fresh milk, with my coffee and butter, and had a good sleep
in a covered waggon. . . It's very hot and cooped up in this place
(Rorke's Drift), very much troubled with flies which swarm everywhere;
they worry the horses frightful, I have now lost both mine. I expect
the expense to the country before this war is over will be enormous;
and of all the useless lands I have ever been in, South Africa is the
A more reasonable view (even before the discovery of Witwatersrand
gold) comes from the letters of a young subaltern of the 90th Light Infantry.
Although it was his first posting overseas, Robert Black Fell wrote some
very informative letters, full of zest. The plentiful wild life appealed to his
sporting instinct as he marched up-country (carrying the regimental colour)
from Pietermaritzburg in the early days of November 1878.
58 Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War
"The buck we have seen since landing are hartebeest near Sundays
River and on the Buffalo flats, also reebok, oribi, duiker, and some
wildebeest. The hartebeest is a splendid animal, the reebok is the
commonest, they utter a bark like a dog. The reebok were hard to
find, but have pretty horns. The only herd of wildebeest we saw are
curious looking beggars, on seeing us they went off flourishing their
heels and tails and cutting wonderful capers. The buck do give a jump
when the rifle bullet comes under. . .Utrecht [where Fell's march
ended] has a laager for the Beers in case of a Zulu war, a few houses
and a big store and a court-house. There is a vlei close by and a stream
comes down from the Burghers' Pass, which is thickly covered with
thorn trees. There is an infernal duststorm blowing now, it is an awful
place for sand storms, and seems to be always blowing a gale. The
sandflies are in such swarms that one can hardly see two feet in front
of you. . . The Boers say there are still occasional lions on the veldt
between here and the Pongola bush. I made friends with a Boer called
Uys living at Uys Kop, and he took me out guinea-fowl shooting but
also shot reebok".
New Year's Day 1879 found Fell stationed at Van Rooyen's farm and
getting ready to make war.
"An old hunter named Rathbone and the Dutch leader Piet Uys, who
has joined us with his clan, told us all about the Zulus. This little farm
is in a comfortable position and has a very good orchard, garden, and
an avenue of eucalyptus trees. The old Boer owner is a famous hunter,
of course we eat what we want as he has trekked with his family too,
gone into laager to avoid the Zulus ... We have been having the most
terrific thunderstorms lately. At Balters Spruit the other day tents were
struck, the lightning running down the tent-poles, splitting the rifles,
fusing cartridges, destroying pouches and belts, and knocking men
over. None of them were killed by it".
Fell soon had something to say about the Zulus, on returning to Bemba's
Kop from a raid down the Buffalo valley:
"We revenged our troubles in a way by taking 8,000 head of cattle
besides sheep and goats from the scattered kraals around. It is simply
marvellous what herds these kraals possess. I was on day picquet by
one of them, the Zulus seemed friendly and gave me some milk. They
were fine looking people ... Zululand as far as we have seen it is destitute
of wood and undulating, some of the hills pretty high, and covered
with luxuriant grass on which our cattle and horses fatten splendidly".
Again, while in the fortified camp at Kambula towards the end of January,
he describes the landscape as "a boundless expanse of green grass, as far
as the eye can reach, the Hlobane Mountain away to our front". He com­
plains about the rough diet he and his soldiers had to accept, although some
relief came when a canteen waggon brought the officers tinned lobster,
salmon, and two bottles of champagne apiece. Fell's father had asked him
what he thought of Natal's prospects and if it was worth buying land there.
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu Wor
"I think it will take a little time to recover; undoubtedly the presence
of so many troops has brought in money and given it an impetus. The
telegraph has been brought within 30 miles of Utrecht now, the railway
will soon be completed to Maritzburg and 1 have no doubt will be
continued to the coal deposits at Newcastle and Dundee. There is no
doubt the country is full of coal and mineral, and said to be gold, and
as soon as it is opened up by rail traffic will become valuable. An old
farmer and hunter called Rathbone told me that from the day the
British troops crossed the Blood River his farm near Luneberg trebled in
value. Before they never were safe from threatened Zulu incursion.
You can grow any fruit you like about a farm, the soil seems very
rich, gum trees grow like smoke; the climate is very healthy. It wants
railways, population, and capital to push it ahead".
Captain Edward Woodgate was an experienced officer who had relatives
in the colony. As one of Evelyn Wood's staff he had direct responsibilities
for bringing the Fourth Column, based at Utrecht, into a state of prepared­
ness for war. He therefore looked closely at the local resources of transport,
fodder, and roads, as well as building up the intelligence system of spies and
advisers that helped make Wood one of the best British commanders. It is
known that Natal suffered serious droughts in the late 1870s, and Wood­
gate's observations are useful in assessing their effects. The summer and
winter of 1878 were very dry, so when Woodgate rode up-country in
September he found little grazing along the last forty miles of road before
Ladysmith, where "all the country is dried up. People are all anxiously
looking out for rain, which ought to commence this month." It did not
come, and the ground remained "as dry as a piece of toast and as hard as a
turnpike road". A few drops of rain fell on 11th October but had little
effect, and for the next five weeks the grass showed no signs of flourishing.
Only by 27th November at Utrecht could Woodgate say that the drought
had broken. "I don't think it has reached Natal yet, but the country is
beginning to look less brown than it was; when the sun is shining on the
hills, it is just possible to distinguish a very slight greenish tinge". The
shortage of fodder for oxen, horses, and mules certainly contributed to the
slowness of the British preparation for war along the Zulu borders. The
drought years also heightened the competition for grazing by Boer and Zulu
in these disputed lands, which were a prime cause of the war.
Woodgate's comments on the townships he visited are revealing. Lady­
smith had originated in 1850 when a trickle of settlers reached the Klip
River farmlands. "It would be called a village in England", he says, "and
consists of about 25 houses of one kind or another. It has been going some
20 years, consequently the timber is pretty well grown, but the town itself
progresses slowly". When he went to buy waggons and oxen at Wessel­
stroom, he found,
"two small hotels, about the size of fifth-rate pot-houses in England,
about three shops, and a dozen other houses. It is called a town, being the
only collection of houses in the district, the nearest other towns being
Newcastle and Utrecht, each about 30 miles off; they are a little bigger
than this place ... The country is very thinly populated. 1 only passed
Soldiers' letters from the Zulu War
two houses, and three small Kaffir villages, yesterday during my ride
from Utrecht".
Perhaps the value of such observations is merely to confirm and extend
the knowledge already furnished by other and more exact sources of
historical information. On the other hand, the letters written by soldiers
serving in Natal and Zululand are so numerous, and so variously different
in origin, that they are a legitimate quarry of data for historico-geographical
studies. As evidence of what went on during the Zulu War itself, of course,
they are unrivalled in portraying the experiences of men involved at the
sharp end of that bitter conflict. Things come to light that are unsuspected
from reading the official narratives and dispatches, or books based on them
at second-hand. For instance, only those letters written by the mounted
volunteers of Baker's Horse, the Frontier Light Horse, the Kaffrarian Rifles
and the rest, can really bring into focus the slaughtering pursuit of the
Zulus after they broke at Kambula on 29th March 1879.
The full title of the book by an anoymous author, Natalian, brought up in Pieter­
maritzburg, published in London in 1897, is: A South African Boy: Schoolboy Life in
Natal; the quotations come from pages 20-21. The figures concerning the 2121st Regi­
ment are taken from Lt. Col. W. W. Knollys, 'Boy Soldiers', The Nineteenth Celltury,
vol. VI, 1879, pages 1-9. The introduction of short service enlistment (six years with
the colours, six with the reserve) brought more soldiers into the army, while reducing
the number of older, experienced men. In 1875, some 13 000 recruits entered on these
terms; in 1878, they were as many as 25700: Lt. Gen. Sir John Adye, 'T1be British Army',
ibid., p. 349.
The letters of Owen Ellis were printed in The North Wales Express during February
and March 1879; for their context, and other letters by him, see Frank Emery, The Red
Soldier (London, 1977), pages 63-68. The letters of George Morris, John Lines, and
William Whitelocke L10yd are in the archives at the 24th (South Wales Borderers)
Regimental Museum, Brecon. The letter by Ralph Busby, a native of Leamington Spa,
was printed in The Birmingham Daily Gazette, 2 April 1879. Second Lieutenant R. B.
Fell's letters and diary were cited by Prof. S. H. F. Johnston in The History of the
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), vo!. 1, 1689-1910 (Aldershot, 1957), page 280. They are
in the Regimental Museum at Ayr, and I am indebted to Mrs. Helen Sienkiewicz for
the use of a full typescript copy.
Many of the younger officers who fought the Zulus were to return to fight the Boers
twenty years later, often over the same ground. Fell was a case in point, arriving with
his regiment at Frere on 7 December 1899, going on to fight in the relief of Ladysmith.
In the later stages of that war, Major Fell led a column in exhausting pursuit of Louis
Botha, revisiting Kambula, Ulundi, and Isandhlwana; when the 2nd Cameronians finally
sailed from Cape Town in 1904, he was in command of the battalion. Finally, the letters
and diaries of E. R. P. Woodgate are in the possession 'Of his cousin's grandson, Dr.
G. K. Woodgate, my colleague at St. Peter's College, Oxford. He too, returned to
familiar scenes when he commanded a brigade in the Anglo-Boer War; as Major-General
Sir Edward Wood gate he was fatally wounded at Spion Kop.
and its relationship to some
aspects of music in
Cetshwayo's time
"The study of African music is at once a study of unity and diversity, and
this is what makes it exciting and challenging."l These are the words of
Professor Nketia, noted writer, scholar and ethnomusicologist, who is head
of the Department of Musicology at Ghana University. This statement is
based on his own investigations into African music in general, and in
particular, the music of his own Ghanaian people, of which he has made a
special study.
Ethnomusicology or 'comparative musicology' as it is sometimes called,
involves research into music of non-Western cultures. This requires an
understanding of the social, religious, historical and political background of
the people concerned, as well as a knowledge of their instruments, songs
and dances. Ethnomusicology of course is not only confined to the con­
tinent of Africa, but involves research into music belonging to other cultural
groups of non-Western origin, in Asia, the Americas and the 'Ancient
World of the East'. It is also a relatively recent discipline, as research in
this field has only gained momentum in the last three decades or so. Investi­
gations have also become easier in one respect, as the availability of more
sophisticated sound-recording equipment has resulted in more accurate
and scientific results. This subject works hand in hand with other disciplines
such as anthropology, sociology, ethnology, history and linguistics which all
have a bearing on the cultural lives of people.
In Africa, particularly with the emergence of 'black consciousness' and
rise of the 'Third World', active research into different branches of African
culture has become significant. The 'black consciousness' movement has also
re-awakened a sense of pride among African people generally, and it is to
be hoped that this new awareness will preserve something of the rich cultural
heritage of the past. Scholars have argued, however, that Western influences
have had such a marked effect on different language-speaking groups, par­
ticularly south of the Sahara, that little remains of earlier cultural practices.
Although this is true in many respects, and music is not immune to Western
influences, certain customs and traditions do still exist. A study of these
practices has led to a broader understanding of earlier cultures, and has
enriched the cultural life of South Africa as a whole, to which the Zulu
people have made an important contribution.
'Oral Tradition'
The richest source of information is through the medium of 'oral tradition'
handed down from generation to generation. The historian, John Fage, believes
that in this respect, the ethnomusicologist could even be more valuable to
the historian than the historian is to the ethnomusicologist. In his essay on
"Music and History" he says that discoveries through 'oral tradition' could
possibly help clarify and in some respects even consolidate certain historical
data. He also maintains that 'oral tradition' can be treated as the equivalent
of 'written chronicles' as "there is such scanty record, if at all, of written
historical evidence".2 He does however add a proviso-"oral traditions are
not record material. .. they are not absolute data. They are ex parte state­
ments which must be subjected to careful checking."3
Zulu Music
Music, particularly when related to song and dance, is a significant feature
of Zulu cultural life. Professor Krige says the following: " ...... dancing
and song play an important part in the life, not only of the individual, but
also of the community as a whole".
Important as music is, however, relatively little scientific research has
been carried out in this particular field. To-day it has become even more
difficult to trace songs that were once a vital feature of earlier customs and
practices, and consequently, any specimens found in early histories or any
that can be traced through 'oral tradition' are extremely valuable. I have
been able to trace some musical evidence relating to certain aspects of life
in Cetshwayo's time, and also some written accounts which describe cere­
monies and dance performances.
In 1908, Father Franz Mayr wrote "A Short Study on Zulu Music", and
although his descriptions are not scientific in the modern sense of the term,
information contained in his essay is interesting and useful. He illustrates a
number of instruments which were used, and also transcribes eight songs
which were performed on various occasions. One of these is indirectly con­
nected with Cetshwayo and was sung during the marriage ceremony. This
is what Mayr says: "...... it comes from Cetshwayo's time, and is widely
used as the 'isingeniso', or first song at a marriage, when the bride makes
her first appearance with her friends at the place for dancing 'isicawu'."5
The text and translation as well as the music transcribed by him are as
"Anongilondolozani, Keep me safe ye,
Uye watint' a-o Nqakamatshe* He went and attacked the heroes.
A nongilondolozani, Will you protect me,
Zinyane lendhlovu, Young one of the Elephant,
Zinyane lendhlangamandhlat Young of the great heroes."
*Name of one of Cetshwayo's regiments.
tPraise-name for chiefs.
63 Ethnomusicology
rJILU-;;1 J: ~ · I r ~ fttIH;!1
A-no-ngi lo-ndo-lo za- - - - ni u- ye wat-int' a- o-Nqa-ka-ma-tshe A-
Our main source of information comes from the written word, although
L. H. Samuelson has transcribed a short musical excerpt relating to the
customary gathering at the "Feast of the First Fruits". The description
depicts regiments suitably arrayed, led by chiefs in fine plumage, wearing
black ostrich feathers "worn in the centre of their head ring",' who sang
and danced from early afternoon until dark.
Another description given by Bishop Colenso is an account of a war-chant
performed by an 'ibutho' (regiment) of Langalibalele:
"...... they went through their dances, which were decidedly superior
in spirit and character to those of Pakade's people. There was the usual
accompaniment whistling, hissing, and singing in a minor key to the regular
time-keeping of their feet."B
Statements such as these establish the fact that traditional and ceremonial
occasions were celebrated with singing and dancing and, according to
Colenso, an accompaniment of sorts was in evidence.
In about the last thirty years, however, some important information has
been gathered together. Professor Kirby found examples of Zulu instruments
which he included in his treatise on "The Musical Instruments of the Native
Races of South Africa."9 Dr. Tracey has made some recordings, and a set
of these songs has been transcribed and analysed by D. K. Rycroft of the
School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
In addition, Rycroft
has also transcribed other examples, mainly from the Royal Buthelezi
household. There are also some recordings to be found in the archives of
the S.A.B.C.
In addition to the above, mention must be made of a rather specialised
type of vocal expression which played a very important part in the cultural
life of the Zulu. Praise-poems, known as 'Izibongo', recorded 'great events'
in the life of an important person. Although the eulogy was performed by
a praise-singer ('imbongi') in the form of a melodic chant, the speech-tones
and poetic text of such a work seem to outweigh the musical content.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning one small aspect of a praise-poem
('isibongo') dedicated to Cetshwayo "The Last Zulu King".l1 This is taken
from Dr. Cope's edition of 'Izibongo' and is a vivid account of Cetshwayo's
achievements and deeds during his life-time. It is significant because it is in
fact the only reference to the Battle of Isandhlwana throughout the poem,
according to D. McK. Malcolm, who did the translation. The line and
commentary are as follows:
"Odl' uMvemve oncokazi He who destroyed the red-speckled
kwabaMhlophe . . ... . Mvemve among the White men .
The commentary which appears at the foot of the page, reads as follows:
"The identity of Mvemve ('wagtail') is unknown. Malcolm suggests the
red-coated commander of the British force at Isandhlwana, but if so, it is the
only reference to the Zulu war in the poem".12
Kirby tells us about certain instruments which were used in earlier times.
There were different types of whistles and flutes. Ankle-rattles were worn
by warriors, and the beating of shields was used in place of drums. Although
Colenso makes no mention of actual instruments in his description of the
performance he heard and saw, he does refer to certain sounds which
accompanied the dancers. Whistles, ankle-rattles and shields are among
the instruments mentioned by Kirby, and we do know that such appendages
were part of the warrior's dress.
In Tracey's recording of songs performed by Princess Constance Magogo,
five of the fourteen examples have some remote connection with Cetshwayo.
Princess Magogo accompanies herself in this performance with the ' ugubhu',
which is a bow-like instrument used for solo singing. Rycroft describes the
instrument as follows: "...... a large musical bow with a single undivided
string, having a calabash resonator attached near the lower end of the
stave... . . Captain Gardiner noted such an instrument in the l830s in the
time of Dingane"Y
The instrument is classified under 'Stringed Instruments' in Kirby's book
and Mayr has two illustrations in his essay on 'Zulu Music' . According to
Kirby "the beater is made of 'tamboukie' grass (Andropogon marginatus
Steud.)"14 All three writers spell the word differently, but according to the
linguists 'ugubhu' is the accepted spelling.
Rycroft has produced excellent transcriptions of these songs, accompanied
65 Ethnomusicology
by a detailed analysis and he also gives a full description of the 'ugubhu'.
Shortage of space precludes the inclusion of these transcriptions in an
article such as this, so I will devote myself to a resume of the five songs
which are relevant.
A.2 'Helele! Yiliphi Leliyana? (Hurrah! which is that (regiment) yonder?),
The date of this composition is uncertain. Princess Magogo maintains
that it originated during Shaka's reign because of place names used even
during Senzangakhona's time ... But references are made to Mpande's and
Cetshwayo's regiments which were inserted subsequently. According to
Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, "this song was usually sung by girls, remembering
their boy-friends in the regiment. .."
A.4 "Wamthinta uPhefeni" (You have provoked the Phefeni regiment).
This song refers to Zibhebhu, who "challenged the leadership of the Usuthu
lineage during Cetshwayo's reign ..."
A.5 "Thulani sinitshele" (Keep quiet, we will tell you) is a song of
reminiscences of past "personalities and places".
B.3 "Kwabase sabulawa nguDingane" (Every day we are slain by Dingane)
is a lament marking the gradual downfall of the Zulu Nation.
B.4 "Ngiyamazi uZibhebhu" (I know Zibhebhu) is sung by two girls in love
with the sons of Cetshwayo, although the text is more in the nature of a
lament over Cetshwayo's death.
I include Rycroft's transcription of this final song taken from Tracey's
Hm! hm-hm! hm-hm!
Hm! hm-hm! hm-hm!
N giyamaz' uZibhebhu ngobaba
I know Zibhebhu, through whom my
father is no more!
Ngiyamaz(i) uZibhebhu ngobaba
I know Zibhebhu for my late father's
"Woz' angibone" wash( 0)
"He will know who / am"
said Dlothovu;
"Woz'angibone" nje lokababa
"He will know who I am", thus was my
late father's word.
Ngiyamaz (i) uZibhebhu ngobaba
I know Zibhebhu for my late father's
"Woz' angibone",
"He will know who I am",
U, zh, zh! hayi, zh, zh!
U, zh, zh! hayi, zh, zh!
lyu, zh, zh!
Balele, balele,
They sleep, they sleep,
Min(a) angilele belu!
(While) I sleep not, of course!
Balele, balele,
They sleep, they sleep,
Mina kangilele, yeheni!
I am not asleep, ha!
Ibiza ugob' amadolo, inyoni yami,
It calls does my bird, (and) you bend
(your) knees;
Ibiza vhambis' okomngqithi,
It calls, does my own Secretary bird,
eyami intungunono.
(and) you walk like a Kori bustard.
N g-hayi, zh, zh! /yo, zh, zh!
Ng-hayi, zh, zh! Iyo, zh, ZhP5
I conclude with a further transcription of a war-song which was sung to
me by Mr. Shakane, who lives in Pietermaritzburg and claims to be a
Ethnomusicology 66
"Ngiyamazi uZibhebhu"
t .... 30.
Hm, hID­
-hm! Hm - -- m-hm! Hm, hm­
hm-hm! - Ngiyamaz' uZi­
-"'"'""'"""..... r:--t--.- "':\
bhe bhu ngo-bab' 0- nge-mu- ntu! Ngiyamaz' uZi
50 (Leader)
, .
'-'" .. .,+
bi sa; yin tab' e-sha- yo ke! Wa yengwa yintab' e- sha­
Ii-thand' ukwen- zan'? Len-
Y o! yintab' e- sha- yo - ke -=- '1 Wayengwa yintab' e-sha­
descendant of the Royal Buthelezi family. He had heard this song in his
'childhood, sung to him by older members of his family.
The translation was done by Mr. J. Radebe.
It is the song of a witchdoctor (isangoma) who charmed warriors before
going into battle.
It is in free style, in the form of a chant, and the only clear rhythmic
sequence is a three bar phrase 'hawu-ji-hawu' which occurs after each line
of the text. This short phrase is also the main unifying factor throughout
the chant. The words are subsidiary to the 'melody'.
AYEZA N KOSI - (They are coming 0 Chief!)
Ayeza nKosi ayez'amaviyo o Chief they are coming, the regiments
are coming,
Aqala thina- hawu-jihawu etc. They are inciting us - hawu-ji-hawu
Uye z'uye z'uma shushu (A great person in the place of the chief)
is coming,
Ziye Z' zinduna The Indunas are coming,
Ziyeza ziyeza nKosi They are coming 0 Chief!
Aye bayeza They are coming
Usezivile nKosi He has heard 0 Chief!
"Ayeza nkosi" (Chief, they are coming I)
It} L· r f k . ~ "1
A-ye za-nKos'- A- ye z'a - ma - vi - yo A - qa - la - - - thi - na­
ISl Gr?!J;-p£ I Jl t I J J . .;Ijoj IttWJ -iF
A-ye z'an Kos' Hawuhawu ji hawu hawu ji
haw' A-ye A-ye'zinKos'
hawu hawu ji hawu hawu ji haw' A-ye u-ye u-ye zum zum shu-
IC}. J j. JI J J. J { J 11 f J.. f J.. it't. l "f±2
hawu hawu ji haw'haw'ji haw' A-ye zi-ye zi-zi zindu-na
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Hawu hawu-ji hawu-hawu- ji- haw' --; A-ye zi-ye zi-ye za-'n-Kos'Hawu hawu ji haw'hawuji
1:9111lJ ~ ~ f IJ J £' IJi-5in I
ha;V; A-ye bayeza baye-za hawu hawuji hawu hawu ji haw'haw
110: JJ.. £Te c ~ "3. I J J
A-ye usivi I'n Kos' Hawu hawuji hawu ji hawuhawu A-ye - - - ­
68 Ethnomusicology
1. Nketia, Kwabena, The Music of Africa (Victor Gollancz, 1975).
2. Fage, J., 'Music and History. A Historian's View of the African Picture' in E s s a y ~
on Music and History in Africa edited by K. Wachsmann (Northwestern University
Press, 1974).
3. Ibid.
4. Krige, E., The Social System of the Zulus (Shuter & Shooter, Pietermaritzburg,
reprinted, 1974).
5. Mayr, Rev. Father Franz, 'A Short Study on Zulu Music' in the Annals of the
Natal Government Museum (London, 1908). Vo!. 1. Part 2. pp. 259/60.
6. Ibid.
7. Samuelson, L. H., Zululand, its traditions, legends, customs and folk-lore (Mariann­
hill Press, Natal, no date given).
8. Colenso, J. W., Ten Weeks in Natal: A Journal of a first tour 01 visitation (Cam­
bridge, Macmillan & Co., 1855).
9. Kirby, P., The Musical Instruments of the Native Races of South Africa (Oxford
University Press, 1934).
10. 'The Zulu Songs of Princess Constance Magogo'-recorded by Hugh Tracey-
Music Africa Series No. 37, recorded 1972.
11. Izibongo: Zulu Praise Poems edited by Trevor Cope (Oxford University Press, 1968).
12. Ibid.
13. Rycroft, D. K., The Zulu Bow Songs of Princess Magogo'-Alrican Music Vo!. 5.
No. 4. 1975/6.
14. Kirby, P., op. cit.
15. Rycroft, D. K., op. cif.
I am indebted to Mr. D. K. Rycroft for permission to quote from his work, to Jonatban
Weinberg for the illustration, to Mr. Shakane and Mr. Radebe for their co-operation and
also to Miss Cynthia Ntsele for her advice on some Zulu words.
Charles Theodore Binns
One of the brave pens to have championed the Zulu cause in the war of
1879 was that of Charles Theodore Binns. It is therefore fitting that a tribute
to him should be appearing in the issue of Natalia which commemorates
the centenary of the Zulu War.
Mr Binns was born in Manchester in the year 1893. He received his
initial education at Manchester Grammar School and then decided to train,
like his father and grandfather before him, for the Methodist ministry.
In his sixth year of training Mr Binns contracted tuberculosis. His health
became so bad that he had to abandon his preparation for entering the
ministry and leave the damp climate of England. It was to South Africa
that he decided to move, arriving here in 1915.
Despite the added afflictions of a burst appendix and peritonitis, Mr
Binns eventually recovered his full health. He did not go completely
unscathed, however, as, after resuming his probationary training, he dis­
covered that full credit would not be given to him for the years which he
had served in England. This persuaded him to change denominations and
it was in the Congregational church that he was ultimately ordained in 1927.
In 1933 Mr Binns left the church and joined the Treasury Department in
Pietermaritzburg. At this time he married the person with whom he was
to live in close companionship for the rest of his life, Miss May Leach.
Later he became Town Clerk of Ndola, only leaving this position for health
reasons. He then taught at Waddilove Methodist Mission near Marandellas.
In 1957 Mr Binns returned to Pietermaritzburg and rejoined the Natal
Provincial Administration as a cost accountant. Next he taught at St
Charles' College. Finally he entered the Department of Bantu Education
as an administrative officer. Because of a heart condition, Mr Binns retired
to the lower altitude of Southport in 1970.
It was only after his return to Pietermaritzburg that C. T. Binns was
able to give close attention to his lifelong interest in Zulu history and by
further wide reading acquire the thorough knowledge which he had of even
the most obscure literature about the Zulus. Now it was that his greatest
joy became the many trips which he made into Zululand. Here he gleaned
much valuable oral information and developed the feeling for the beauty
of the country and the dignity of its people which comes through so clearly
in his writing.
His first book, The Last Zulu King: the life and death of Cetewayo,
had the distinction of being chosen as the Book Society's non-fiction choice
for January, 1963.
In Dinizulu: the death of the house of Shaka, Mr Binns's deep and long
research again allowed him to produce a book of great interest in which
a sensitive assessment is made of the behaviour of a man who was despised
by many and treated in an arbitrary way by British, Boer, and Natalian
Charles Theodore Binns
Few people in their middle seventies would have embarked on a work of
the scope of Warrior People, as Mr Binns did. This book shows the Zulus
as being an organised and busy people with many ancient traditions and
Mr Binns was as skilled with carpenter's tools as he was with a pen. This
was the only area in which his modesty waned and he would display with
pride the fine pieces of furniture which he had made in his younger days.
In his old age, when he was often in pain, he could not find an easy chair
which was comfortable so he decided to make one of his own design, doing
both carpentry and upholstery himself. It suited him perfectly and he used
it for the rest of his life.
Although somewhat restless, Mr Binns could nevertheless spend many
hours in concentrated thought or quiet reflection. He was not tolerant of
laziness, poor behaviour, foolishness, or injustice. Of a perpetually inquiring
mind, he had a keen sense of humour, was an entrancing storyteller, a true
friend to many, and above all a man of God.
At the end of his life he returned to his early interest and was working
on a three-volume history of religion when he died on the 11th April, 1978.
According to his wishes his ashes were scattered in Zululand.
A contemporary document
Durban, February 1879.
An indication of the sense of insecurity felt by white colonial Natal in the
immediate aftermath of Isandhlwana is provided by the following document
signed R. Jameson, Durban, February 1879 (M.S. 14696 Jameson Papers:
Killie Campbell Africana Library, Durban).
'Directions for putting our houses in a state of defence in the event of
the Zulus reaching Durban, during my absence with my Corps at the front.
Outside: Clear from all boxes, Straw Casks and similar inflammable
Take roof off verandah, to prevent it being used to reach the upper
Get written authority from the Commandant to pull down the wooden
stable on Witherspoon's Erf, which if set fire to by Enemy would smoke
out our garrison upstairs.
Strew our back yard thickly with broken bottles.
Have prepared a lot of sandbags ready for immediate use.
Inside: Screw across the lower windows stout wood laths and back these
up with mattresses and pillows. Pile sandbags behind all the doors. The
large plateglass window to be planked up and then backed up by piles of
sandbags, under direction of the soldiers. Have water and provisions for
two or three days, put upstairs, as also all arms and ammunition.
The Staff Officer Capt. Somerset has promised me 4 rifles and ammunition
and if possible two soldiers so that our house could be held as an outwork.
Ask for them when the necessity arises. . .
Take advice of Capt. Somerset if further needed and keep up a good
heart my wife.'
[Robert Jameson came to Natal in 1859. He founded the firm of
Jameson & Co., manufacturers of jams, chutneys, preserves, etc. In
1879 Jameson entered the Durban Town Council and was Mayor from
1895 to 1896. In 1896 he became a member of the Legislative Council
for Durban County.
At the time of the Zulu War the Jamesons were resident outside
Durban. They may have been at BeHair, where they were certainly
living by the end of 1883. (Biographical details supplied by Mrs. S. P. M.
Submitted by W. R. Guest and published with grateful acknowledgement to
the Killie CampbeH Africana Library.
Notes and Queries
The Ammunition Boxes at the Battle of Isandhlwana
The design of the famous Isandhlwana ammunition boxes which, according
to popular legend, could not be opened during the Battle because there was a
dearth of screwdrivers, has been investigated by J. A. Verbeek and V. Bresler
in an article entitled 'The Role of the Ammunition Boxes in the Disaster at
Isandhlwana' published in the December 1977 issue of The ]ourlUll of the
Historical Firearms Society of South Africa. Examination of the evidence,
both documentary and material, has convinced the authors that the story is
little more than a myth.
Both Morris and Clammer in their popular histories of the Anglo-Zulu
War state categorically that the disaster at Isandhlwana was in large measure
due to the design of the small-arms ammunition boxes. Both described the
boxes but do not agree as to the method of fastening the lids. Morris states,
'The lids were held down by two strong copper bands, each secured by nine
stout screws'; according to Clammer 'the lids of the ammunition boxes were
held in place by six screws, and by some oversight there was a dearth of
screwdrivers. '
From the specifications laid down in the Ordinance Department's 'List of
Charges', which they quoted extensively, Verbeek and Bresler described the
ammunition boxes used from 1863 to 1880 and suggest that the box in use in
January, 1879 was the Mark VI which had a sliding lid held in place by only
one 2 inch, cheese-head screw. Fragments of boxes excavated at Isandhlwana
and complete boxes examined by the authors appear to be this Mark VI box,
or possibly the earlier and similarly secured Mark V. The bands around these
boxes were to strengthen them and did not in any way affect the sliding lids.
The contemporary primary literature examined by the authors makes little
reference to the ammunition boxes which suggests that the legend grew up
later. It may have originated in inferences drawn from the failure to get am­
munition during the Battle and from the elaborate instructions on the subject
issued before Chelmsford's advance on Ulundi. 'Each wagon and cart with
the convoys must have some ammunition boxes placed on it in such a posi­
tion as to be easily got at. The regimental reserve boxes must have the screw
of the lid taken out, and each wagon and cart will have the screwdriver at­
tached to one of the boxes, so that it may be ready for opening those in which
the screw has not been taken out.'
'The design of the ammunition box was in no way to blame for the disaster
at Isandhlawana' state the authors of this fully documcnted and clearly illus­
trated article which can be seen in the Reference Department of the Natal
Society Library.
Another view of a possible cause of the disaster is given by Richard Wyatt
Vause, who commanded a Sekali [Also spelt Sikali: Eds.] troop (Natal Native
Horse) at Isandhlwana. Not long after we had read the article by Verbeek
and Bresler. Mr. Don Stayt of Underberg showed us a transcript of Vause's
diary. Vause was Mr. Stayt's grandfather.
Notes and Queries
We had a smart ride about 12 miles. arriving at Isandhlwana between 10
and 11 a.m. After riding through the camp we halted for a few minutes
to give the men a biscuit as they had started without breakfast and we ex­
pected a hard day's work. While giving my men their biscuits Col. D
(urnford) sent for me and ordered me to take my troop and ride back
to meet our wagons as the Zulus were seen in our rear and he expected
they would try and cut them off.
My orders were to see the wagons safely into camp and then join him
again about 12. I got back with the wagons and hearing firing about two
miles to the front of the camp I at once gave the order to trot and started
off to find Colonel Durnford.
I soon came across Captain Shepstone and as he asked me to stop with
him I dismounted the men and extended them in skirmishing order. We
were soon under hot fire but continued to advance though very slowly
as the Zulus were under good cover and wc had to expose ourselves every
time we advanced.
On arriving at the top of the hill we perceived the enemy in overwhelming
force coming from behind and, fearing our ammunition would soon be
exhausted before we could regain the camp, Capt. Shepstone gave the
order to retire back to our horses.
Fortunately the Zulus were shooting very badly and as yet few casualties
had occurred on our side. As soon as the Zulus perceived we were in
retreat they came on with a shout and were rapidly gaining on us when
we regained our horses. As soon as the men were mounted we retired
slowly to the camp, dismounting at every few yards and firing a volley
but without holding the enemy in check .... as they did not seem to
mind our fire at all.
After regaining the camp to our dismay it was found that the ammunition
boxes had not been opened and the Zulus being so close on our heels we
had no time to look for screwdrivers. [Our italics: Eds.] Fortunately one
of my Kaffirs came across a box with a few in it which I distributed
amongst the men. By this time the soldiers had expended their ammuni­
tion and the Zulus had cut through them and were in amongst the tents
and we were obliged to retire again.
[Vause managed to reach the Buffalo River with about six of his men
but lost his horse in trying to ford the river. Assisted by a 'little Kaffir
boy' and later by 'Edwards of the Carbineers' he was able to reach Help­
mekaar where despite a laager of wagons and mealie sacks, the 38
defenders expected to be defeated.]
Fortunately the Zulus were repulsed at Rorke's Drift and did not get as
far as Helpmekaar.
I lost 30 men and 10 were wounded so I have not many left out of my
original 50.
The Preservation and Reconstruction of Fort Eshowe
The December 1975 (No. 5.) issue of Natalia included an article by Lieuten­
ant W. N. Lloyd on the defence of Fort Eshowe. It might interest readers
to know that, with the permission of the National Monuments Council, the
Notes and Queries
history department of Edgewood College of Education has for some years
now been engaged in a project to protect and preserve this rapidly deteriorat­
ing site.
The Fort falls outside the Eshowe Municipal Boundary and for this reason
attempts made by interested individuals in the past to preserve the site have
always failed. Now, working in close collaboration with Mr. G. A. Chad wick,
an executive member of the National Monuments Council, the Edgewood
Committee has made significant progress.
After a good deal of initial research to verify and add to, existing knowledge
of the Fort, practical steps have now been taken to preserve it. Part of this
initial research involved an investigation into the history of the Norwegian
Mission Station and cemetery around which the Fort was constructed.
Funds made available by the National Monuments Council will enable the
Committee to clear the site, appoint a caretaker and erect a plinth incorporat­
ing an accurate plan of the Fort. This plan will guide visitors to points of in­
terest indicated by name plates similar to those at Majuba. The Committee
hopes that by removing noxious weeds and shrubs and planting grass the
appearance of the Fort will be enhanced and the site preserved.
The Military graveyard is also part of the site and is in such a state of
disrepair that it can only be reconstructed by referring to original documents
and a number of photographs recently discovered by a Committee member at
the National Army Museum in London.
Although there is still much to be done, it is to be hoped that the Fort and
Military graveyard will be in a fit state to be seen by the many visitors ex­
pected in Kwa Zulu for the centenary celebrations of the Anglo-Zulu War.
Maps of the Anglo-Zulu War
"War and its battlefields are not only a testing ground for weapons ... but
also for mapping systems.'"
While the Anglo-Zulu War generated a vast amount of cartographic activi­
ty, the maps themselves show that techniques lagged behind the volume of
maps produced. The latter was so great that, within two years, probably as
many maps were produced for Natal and Zululand as in the previous forty
years, setting aside large scale farm plans. On the technical side however,
very little advance was made in 1879 and 1880. Inevitably during the course
of the war a great deal of cartographic knowledge was acquired in a spatial
sense. For example, Zululand was virtually unmapped by 1878 but two years
later a basic framework had been laid. Nevertheless, vast areas were still
blank in 1880. A typical map of the period shows relief by means of shading
and hachures, rivers, forests, kraals and tracks. Large areas are empty, but a
false impression of completeness is given by the addition of annotative detail,
fashionable at this time. The use of annotations is in itself an indication of
cartographic underdevelopment, for, at a scale of 1:63360 or smaller, the
amount of information to be mapped from a complete survey demands sym­
bolization. The annotations on maps of this period cover topography, drain­
age and vegetation. with the state of drifts and tracks and additional informa­
tion on the local populace, especially population figures. It is perhaps true
75 Notes and Queries
to say however that a certain amount of such military information could
only be mapped with the aid of notes.
By 1878, the state of cartography in Natal was such that the military had
access to maps accurate enough for strategic planning, or had the ability
to furnish them themselves. One such map2 summarizes military thinking
on a pre-emptive strike into Zululand by 5 columns - this map is dated
1878. As the war progressed however, it became obvious that the military
lacked the large scale maps which could influence tactical thinking. This was
the heyday of field sketching and scouts' reports, and both were likely to be
misleading if not totally inaccurate in the confusing and contorted terrain of
Zululand. The first six months of the war produced a spate of mapping,
largely based upon sketches and estimations, but most of these were of
restricted areas, as for example the maps drawn of the Isandhlwana battle­
field or of the routes followed by the invading columns, and all were for
purposes of reporting rather than planning.
The war did however lead to a greater general coverage of Zululand at
smaller scales, of about ]: 300 000. Such maps reflect the major concern
of the times in that they contain socio-political information such as boun­
dary claims, tribal areas and popUlation. This is true of both War Office
maps and those commercially produced. The former are more functional
while the latter are more sophisticated and are in colour. The Anglo-Zulu
War also prompted the appearance of Natal's first newspaper map, which ori­
ginally appeared in the Cape Argus. This map is clearly based upon official.
War Office, maps, but is notable for the fact that it shows the location and
date of the battle of Isandhlwana which had been fought only six days before.
The aftermath of the war and the activities of the boundary commissions
in the early ] 880s led to a further spate of mapping, with prominence given
to the boundaries between Zululand and the Transvaal Republic and Natal,
and the internal division of Zululand into thirteen chieftainships.
The Anglo-Zulu War thus significantly influenced the qualitative carto­
graphic coverage of Zululand. Its effect on maps of Natal was quantitative ­
5 major maps of Natal were published within two years, distinguished from
their predeccessors largely by the greater topographic detail they carried.
Overall, it is hard to conclude that Natal and Zululand were well mapped
by the early 1880s even though the events of the Anglo-Zulu War had been
such an incentive to this end. The lack of a general and reliable survey for
military tactical planning was to be echoed in a more extensive and longer
war, two decades later.
1. COBB, D. A. 'Maps and scholars', Library Trends, 25 (4), Ap. 1977, pp. 819-32.
2. Distances and various access points to Zululand with routes converging on Undi
(Ulundi). In Correspondence re military affairs in Natal and Zululand. C 2234, BPP
25, 47 (Natal Archives). Facing p. 3.
The New Cathedral Centre
Natalia 1, 1971, featured an article by Rt. Rev. K. B. Hallowes. Bishop­
Suffragan of Natal, entitled "A New Cathedral Centre for Pietermaritzburg"
Notes and Queries
which traced the history since 1946 of the move to build a new Anglican
Cathedral to replace the decaying fabric of S1. Saviour's. Bishop Hallowes
indicated the development of diocesan thinking from the need to build a
large hall of worship only. to the concept of a cathedral centre which. ·with a
smaller hall of worship. would also provide facilities for education, shared
meals. diocesan administration. non-parochial ministeries and ecumenical co­
The project also envisaged the amalgamation of the two city parishes of St.
Peter's and St. Saviour's. thereby healing the century-old schism which had
resulted from the Colenso disputes.
This union duly took place at Whitsun. 1976. the united congregation being
named "The Cathedral Church of the Holy Nativity". Natalia 6. 1976, re­
ported the winning of the Architectural Competition for the new Cathedral
Centre by two Cape Town architects. Messrs. H. Kammeyer and N. Rozendal.
Their design provided for a drum-shaped hall of worship behind S1. Peter's
Church (which remained untouched), while the fellowship/education/ad­
ministration block. three storeys high. was to be erected along the Chapel
Street side of the erf, leaving the historic yelIowwood trees undisturbed.
During the past two years detailed planning has proceeded with a number
of alterations being made to the original brief. By July 1978 overall costs
were calculated by the Quantity Surveyors at RI 855 700. a figure inclusive of
all fees and escalated to cover all costs, with a target date for completion of
the buildings set for September, 1980. In September. 1978, the project was
put out to tender. but the lowest tender received for the whole scheme was
R2 180052 (with fees and escalation again added in).
Faced with this disparity. the New Cathedral Building Committee and
Diocesan Trustees did not lose their nerve. They resolved:
-to follow the Quantity Surveyors' advice not to accept any of the
tenders received,
-to negotiate with one of the tenderers in order to achieve a reduced
overall cost.
-to instruct the Architects to investigate a reduced scheme. While leaving
the hall of worship more or less intact this would provide for a fellow­
ship building of one storey only, omitting parking basement. lecture
theatre and diocesan offices, reducing the size of the halls and providing
seminar rooms and parish offices in existing accommodation at 169
Longmarket Street and 163 Loop Street (the old Deanery).
-to restrict expenditure to RI 452000,
-to proceed with a Debenture issue. This is necessitated by the fact that
most of the capital for the project is tied up in property - the St.
Saviour's site and a site in lower Church Street - and the state of the
market is at present such that neither of these two properties is readily
These proposals were accepted by a parish Vestry Meeting by a large
majority and by the Diocesan Synod unanimously. If negotiations proceed
as planned, it is hoped to have a contract signed before the end of the year
and to begin building on the reduced and more modest plan at the beginning
of 1979.
77 Notes and Queries
University of Natal Press
Three new publications of the University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg,
are especially welcome at this time as interest in the Centenary of the
Anglo-Zulu War mounts. They are, however, of much more than topical
interest and represent important contributions to the literature of Zulu
Few of the published accounts on the history of the Zulu kingdom leave
any record of events as seen through the eyes of the Zulu themselves.
A Zulu King Speaks (156 pp.) aims to do something to remedy this situation
by reprinting three statements made after the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 by
Cetshwayo, the last of the Zulu kings, on the history and customs of his
people. The first of these statements was originally published in Macmillan's
Magazine of February 1880 under the title 'Cetywayo's story of the Zulu
nation and the war'. Cetshwayo's letter to Sir Hercules Robinson, the
South African High Commissioner, is reprinted from British Parliamentary
Papers C.2950. The third statement consists of the minutes of evidence
supplied by Cetshwayo in 1881 to the Cape Government Commission on
Native Laws and Customs and published in 1883. Taken together the
statements represent a mine of 'inside information' on the historical tradi­
tions and the system of government of the Zulu Kingdom which this reprint
makes easily accessible for the first time. The editors, C. de B. Webb and
J. B. Wright, have provided an introduction outlining Cetshwayo's life
and discussing the documents in the reprint, annotations, an index, maps
and a number of contemporary illustrations.
Due to appear early in 1979 is Battlefields and Fortifications of the Anglo­
Zulu War compiled by Paul S. Thompson and John P. C. Laband, who
have based their work on a study of contemporary written sources and
extensive fieldwork on all the relevant sites. Close attention to the com­
position and disposition of the Zulu forces throws new light on the standard
accounts of several of the engagements. The book will give a brief descrip­
tion of the respective military organizations of the British and Zulu forces
and an outline narrative of the military events. The most significant features
of the work are: the maps of the battlefields as they are today with troop
dispositions superimposed, accompanied by descriptions of the various
engagements; and numerous diagrams of extant fortfications. Visitors to
the Natal and Zululand battlefields have long felt the need of comprehensive
guides and this publication will prove invaluable to tourists, military
enthusiasts and scholars.
The Black People by Magema M. Fuze is quite different. Although it
places no special emphasis on the war of 1879, its first appearance in English
is especially appropriate at this time, dealing as it does with the whole
course of Zulu history. It was originally published in 1922 but as it appeared
in Zulu only it has never reached more than a limited circle of readers.
Harry Lugg. whom many considered to be one of the greatest experts on the
Zulu. translated the work into English. while Professor A. T. Cope. of the
Department of Bantu Languages of the University of Natal, has prepared
it for publication; some pertinent footnotes have been added by Dr Shula
Marks of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. The author
was one of Bishop Colenso's pupils and later tutor to the Zulu Princes.
Notes and Queries
He was not a trained historian but his lively account of Zulu history is of
the greatest interest and not to be missed.
Two earlier publications of the University of Natal Press deserve another
mention. The Road to Ulundi, published in 1969 in a limited edition of
1 000 copies, is by now well known to most of the readers of Natalia. But
those who have not already bought this superb album of the water-colour
drawings of J. N. Crealock will be glad to know that a few copies are still
available at R24,00. In their search for authenticity the makers of the film
Zulu Dawn made constant reference to it. In addition a number of copies
were presented by the company to the stars as a permanent reminder of
their visit to Natal.
In conclusion we commend to our readers what is undoubtedly the most
significant publication on the Zulu to appear in recent years: The James
Stuart Archive of recorded oral evidence relating to the history of the Zulu
and neighbouring peoples. (Published 1976, RI4,40) Edited by C. de B. Webb
and J. B. Wright, Volume I contains the statements, comprehensively
annotated, of 39 Zulu informants. Volume II is in prepartion.
Conference at the University of Natal (Durban)
The Ang1o-Zulu War: A Centennial Re-appraisal
The Department of History at the University of Natal in Durban is organis­
ing a Conference on the Anglo-Zulu War. This will take place from
Wednesday, 7th February, until Friday, 9th February, 1979, and it will be
followed by a tour of Zululand for those interested on the Saturday and
In the initial notice of the Conference, the list of papers to be presented
is given. The titles indicate many interesting variations on the main theme,
and the speakers will come not only from South African universities but
also from overseas. The latter will include Dr Norman Etherington from
the University of Adelaide, who will lecture on "Shepstone's Coronation
of Cetshwayo and its Aftermath"; Dr Adrian Preston of the Royal Military
College, Canada, whose paper is entitled "New Light on Isandhlwana from
the Crealock and Cleary Papers"; Mr. Patrick Harries of the School of
Oriental and African Studies, London, who will speak on "Delagoa Bay
and Mabudu Relations with the Zulu"; Miss Elaine Unterhalter, from the
same institution, will lecture on "The Nquthu District of Zululand during
the Anglo-Zulu War"; Mr Frank Emery of Oxford University will present
a paper on "The Anglo-Zulu War as depicted in soldiers' letters".
Two exhibitions will also be held in conjunction with the Conference:
the Killie Campbell Africana Library, Marriott Road, Durban, will mount
an exhibition of material relating to the Anglo-Zulu War, and on the
Durban campus of the University there will be an exhibition of photographs
taken by J. Lloyd, a Durban photographer. They fall into two groups:
photographs depicting scenes from the Anglo-Zulu War itself, and those
of interesting personalities of the time.
The Chief Minister of KwaZulu, Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, will open the
proceedings and address the Conference.
Any enquiries regarding this Conference should be addressed to Professor
A. H. Duminy, Department of History, University of Natal, Durban.
Book Revielvs and Notices
By DAVID CLAMMER. Purnell & Sons, 1977.
The publisher's blurb on the dust cover of this magnificently produced
book ends with the observation "The Last Zulu Warrior is a unique publica­
tion of Africana and an important contribution to the historical record of
Victorian South Africa." Insofar as it publishes the collection of con­
temporary magic lantern slides belonging to the late Lal Harraway of Port
Elizabeth one must agree, for these slides form the thread around which
Clammer's story of the Zulu War is woven. As far as being "an important
contribution to the historical record", the book leaves something to be
In terms of its technical production the book is certainly impressive. The
type, the layout and the lavish illustrations make it a most desirable
collector's item. The illuminated lettering and the pen and ink drawings
at the beginning of each chapter are most appealing and add to the quality
"feel" of the book, as does the Butler painting of Rorke's Drift on the box
and the jacket illustration "Zulu Outpost" which is also reproduced on pages
l32-l33. While interesting in themselves, I found the Harraway lantern
slides to be rather garish, and often copies of contemporary photographs.
As far as the book's contribution to the historical record is concerned,
Clammer neglects certain items. He has chosen to avoid scattering diacritical
marks and numerals around the text to indicate footnotes or references,
probably to avoid breaking the continuity of the story. This would seem
to indicate that he intends the book to be read as an account of the Zulu
War rather than as a history. This would negate somewhat the comment
on the dust jacket.
The bibliography given by Clammer at the back of the book omits certain
works which are worth including. Judging by other books on the same
subject, one wonders how much reading went into the preparation of this
volume, and the extent of his comparison of primary sources. Certainly
little comment is given on the opinions of various Zulu War commentators,
although Clammer does identify his own opinion of controversial events
and topics. There can be no doubt that the defeat at Isandhlwana and the
death of the Prince Imperial were highly controversial and the subject of
much discussion for years afterwards.
Nevertheless, the text is very readable, and if Clammer's purpose was to
produce a readable account of the Zulu War rather than "an important
contribution to the historical record of Victorian South Africa", then he
has succeeded, and succeeded very well.
He has failed, however, to check his Zulu orthography and we find varia­
tions in the spelling of several Zulu words. Nkobamakosi appears on page
62 while Ngobamakosi appears on page 77, 79 and 176. Similarly
Nbonambi and Mbonambi also appear at different places in the text.
Book Reviews and Notices
Although standard works on Zulu orthography exist, one would be satisfied
if one spelling was selected and maintained. Variety is merely irritating,
as are printing errors, of which there are sufficient to call into question the
quality of proof reading.
It is almost certain that there will be a considerable demand for The Last
Zulu Warrior in the light of the coming centenary of the Zulu War and
the attendant publicity. It is the sort of book one would like to own,
although it is too bulky to be read in bed. The technical production is
excellent, making it a desirable collector's item, in spite of its high price.
(Shuter and Shooter, Pietermaritzburg, 1978).
Colonel Henry Harford's Zulu War Journal cannot be described as a work
of major historical importance, in that it does not offer any startling new
information on the subject with which it is concerned. It tells us nothing
of the underlying motivation of the war, nor does it offer any insights into
the military strategy with which the British campaign was prosecuted. It is
an essentially personal narrative, at times anecdotal, rather than a dispas­
sionate analysis of the Zululand invasion. Yet it is, as the editor is at pains
to point out, "a young man's description of, and commentary on, events
as they happened, not an old man's reminiscences of things long past." As
such it does contribute, in a fresh and engaging style, towards a more
detailed picture of the momentous events which took place in Zululand
during 1879.
Born in 1852, Henry Harford emigrated with his parents to Natal in 1864
and spent the rest of his boyhood here, before returning in 1870 to Britain
in pursuit of a military career. In 1878 he resigned his position as Adjutant
of the 99th Foot (Duke of Edinburgh's Regiment) and, with the war in
Zululand imminent, successfully applied for secondment to Her Majesty's
forces in Natal. Like numerous other professional soldiers, Harford saw an
obvious opportunity for experience and advancement in the impending
conflict. Not surprisingly, his Journal gives no indication of any personal
misgivings as to the justification for the war itself. Back in the Colony, he
was appointed Staff Officer to Commandant Lonsdale of the Third Regi­
ment, Natal Native Contingent, in which capacity his knowledge of spoken
Zulu, acquired during his boyhood, was doubtless an advantage. In January
1879, Harford joined the Native Contingent in forming part of the (Central)
Column of British forces, which invaded Zululand from the vicinity of
Rorke's Drift and which subsequently suffered the disaster at isAndlwana.
He remained with the Native Contingent through various vicissitudes until
mid-1879, when he resumed the Adjutancy of the 99th Regiment which,
in the interim, had been ordered to Zululand and formed part of the Right
(Coastal) Column of invading forces.
Consequently, largely by dint of good fortune, Harford found himself in
close attendance on some of the most memorable episodes of that tragic
conflict and was able to record his impressions in fine detail. These include
the scene at the isAndlwana camp shortly after the battle, which Harford
Book Reviews and Notices
himself avoided only by being sent out to reconnoitre shortly before the
Zulu attack. There is a description of the Rorke's Drift outpost on the
morning after its successful defence and an account of the recovery of the
Queen's Colour belonging to the First Battalion, 24th Regiment, and of
the discovery of the bodies of Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill, who had
heroically attempted to preserve this symbol of regimental honour. There
is the dramatic story of the return of the Colours to the Regiment and of
the privilege accorded to Harford on that occasion for his part in their
recovery. Included also is a description of the hunt for Cetshwayo (for hunt
it was) after the Ulundi battle and of the competitive spirit which prevailed
among the various search parties engaged in that activity. There is the
subsequent arrival of the captured Zulu monarch in camp where, for two days,
Harford was placed in personal charge of the royal prisoner and his retinue,
and there is the eventual capture of the evasive Zibhebhu.
Unwittingly, Harford's narrative also provides an interesting commentary
on the sometimes contradictory attitudes of a mid-Victorian British officer
towards the indigenous black population. He openly declares his contempt
for the fighting qualities of the Natal 'native' levies, while conceding that
they were "full of buoyant spirits and chaff, excellent fellows to work with."
He sings the praises of his faithful servant 'Jim' and points to examples of
"what a good fellow" emerges from the kraal, yet he decries "the bar­
barous customs practised by the Zulus." Through it all there emerges,
from a soldier of obvious personal courage, an un stinting respect for "the
splendid spirit in which the Zulus fought us" and for their "sheer love of a
good fight in which the courage of both sides could be tested." Evident also
is Harford's admiration for the Zulu King himself, "a magnificent specimen
of his race and every inch a warrior." Indeed, there is a tone of affection
in the concluding paragraphs of the Zulu War Journal, in which he records
his re-acquaintance with Cetshwayo in 1881, when the King was still in
exile on the Cape Flats and Harford's regiment was temporarily encamped
at Wynberg.
One of the most valuable features of this book, as the editor observes,
"from the point of view of a collector of Africana," is the use which has
been made of Harford's own pencil-sketches. These were completed while
he was on active service and most of them have never been reproduced
before. They serve to illustrate the text in a uniquely personal manner and
are, in themselves, an important record of the events therein described.
In editing this treasured possession of the Local History Museum in
Durban. Daphne Child has made a worthwhile addition to her own growing
list of publications and to the flood of material which has found its way
into print on the occasion of the centenary of the Anglo-Zulu War. It is to
be hoped, under the circumstances, that it enjoys the response from the
book-buying and reading public which it deserves.
Letters from the Zulu War, 1879.
By FRANK EMERY (Hodder and Stoughton, 1977).
This book has been based primarily on extracts from soldiers' letters
82 Book Reviews and Notices
painstakingly collected from a variety of sources, carefully annotated, and
presented within a narrative which is both comprehensive and lucid. The
events of 1879 in Natal and Zululand come to light with a surprising degree
of vividness because the letters are edited in such a way that they tell their
own story. Or, as the editor of one of the papers in which these letters
were printed at the time of the Zulu War put it, they "narrate their own
sad tale of mingled reverse, pluck and British valour." (p. 97)
Not only are there detailed eye-witness accounts of the battles of the
war of which Isandhlwana, Rorke's Drift and Ulundi are the best known,
but there are also descriptions of the various aspects of the campaign of
1879 as well as perceptive observations on the terrain and climate, both of
which added to the difficulties of the military operations. The readers of
these letters, both then and now, are made aware of the great hardships
suffered by the troops, who were confronted with conditions so different
from those of their native land. As the author says, "The Red Soldier
creates a picture of fluctuating fortunes as experienced by the ordinary
soldier in action." (p. 17)
A unique feature of the material included in the book is the intrinsic
quality of the letters themselves. These soldiers certainly knew how to write,
and they gave accurate and often deeply moving accounts of "life and
death in a battle zone." (p. 19)
The book is well illustrated. There are pictures not only of the military
personalities involved, both great and small, but there are also contemporary
drawings of various scenes as well as those of dramatic incidents which
occurred during the course of the campaign itself. Furthermore, the reader
can follow the descriptions of the battles more easily because clearly-drawn
and informative maps and diagrams have been included.
The author has added useful appendices in the form of a Chronology
of the Zulu War and a List of the Sources. In addition to the Bibliography,
a very comprehensive and useful Index has been provided.
This is a very well-produced volume which is a valuable addition to the
works on the subject, primarily because of the original way in which the
material has been presented. It is a book which can be highly recommended,
adding, as it does, a new and fuller dimension to the existing studies on
this topic. It is one which will be read with absorbing interest, particularly
at this time when the centenary of the Zulu War is about to be com­
Facsimile reproduction, with an Introduction, Notes and Index, by
Published jointly by the University of Natal Press and the Killie Campbell
Africana Library (Reprint Series Number 2), 1978.
The recent incorporation of East Griqualand into the province of Natal
has brought about a renewed interest in the history of the former. Although
Book Reviews and Notices
the Griquas did not like what Dower had to say about them there . ~ a s no
one better informed to chronicle the early years of the newest addItIOn to
Natal. Dower came as a missionary to East Griqualand in May 1870 and
remained based there for two full decades. He came originally as a worker
for the London Missionary Society but in 1877 severed his connections with
that organisation.
Dower wrote his "Annals" two years after leaving East Griqualand and
confined himself to an account of events in the territory before the revolt
of 1880-1881, leaving this latter part of the history to come from other pens.
In his book he set out to prove the very simple point that the Griquas did,
in fact, have a history and that some of the events in which they were concern­
ed had a most important bearing on the history of South Africa as a whole.
He sought to prove that the Griquas as a nation had been "victimised by
the vacillations of Imperial policies."
The annals of William Dower trace the reasons why the Griquas decided
to leave their Free State home, how they sought a new home for themselves
and how "Nomansland" to the south of Natal came to be occupied by them.
In the early years of this occupation William Dower played a significant
role in the settlement of Adam Kok and his people.
In his book William Dower portrays the events of the early years and
comments on these events and the people that made them.
Despite its shortcomings as a definitive historical work, this book contains
a great deal of value to the historian and the University of Natal Press
(in conjunction with the Killie Campbell Africana Library) is to be con­
gratulated on its initiative in reprinting this valuable piece of Africana.
Editor: J. A. BENYON.
(Published by University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg. 1978. 297 p.).
This book is a more-or-less verbatim account of a three-day conference held
at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in February 1978, convened
by the Vice-Principal (Pietermaritzburg) Professor G. D. L. Schreiner. Its
editor, Professor J. A. Benyon, has made a truly valiant effort to do justice
to the enormous theme of constitutional change in the Republic of South
Africa. The papers delivered and the ensuing discussions, as well as a
synthesising introduction, have been presented here in a most praiseworthy
fashion. Indeed, it would be churlish to cavil at the extraneous bits and
pieces added which tend to detract from the main theme since the spirit of
the conference seems to have been captured. Not an easy thing to do when
academics, politicians, businessmen, civil servants and laymen of all races
have the floor for three exhaustive and exhausting days of declamation,
discussion and debate.
If a criticism can be laid, it is really at the door of the academics taking
part who on the whole seemed to take a somewhat instrumental view of
constitution-making and function. The names of the great theoretical con­
stitutionalists of the past, K. C. Wheare, C. H. McIlwain and Aristotle, seem
84 Book Reviews and Notices
to be mIssmg from the inspiration of the legal and other thinkers who
contribute to this book. Your reviewer ventures to suggest that this purely
instrumental view of the constitution will not have the effect, in the words
of the ancient Greeks, "of affecting the goodness of the citizens by the
goodness of the constitution". It is, however, not part of a reviewer's task
to say what was not in the work under review but to stick to discussing
what was present.
Professor van der Vyver of Potchefstroom University writes on the flexi­
bility of constitutions, surely one of the great strengths of the American
and the British fundamental-law documents. The South African constitu­
tion at present is also flexible, enough to make it possible to change it
completely, as is suggested by the present government. In fact, Dr D.
W orrall's contribution deals precisely with that very proposal: the notion
of replacing the Westminster form of government with a completely new revo­
lutionary model of a three-tier structure. The details are described, not
fully because, as Dr Worrall says, not all the details are known. But suffi­
cient is said to enable the reader to obtain a reasonably clear picture of
these proposals. And what revolutionary proposals they are. A kind of
"racial federalism" - not, your reviewer hastens to add, a term actually
used - indeed, some of the sociological-political jargon in the book seems
to be designed to mystify rather than clarify, which one could sum up as
"conflict regulation" and "proportionality".
Economics also occupies an important place in the book. Economic
growth and fiscal structures, with their social implications, are dealt with at
some length.
What interested your reviewer particularly was a hitherto largely unstated
problem resulting from governmental plans for the balkanisation of the
Republic; namely that of the security of the land borders of the future as
well as of those existing at present. Deon Fourie and John Barratt of the
University of South Africa and the South African Institute of International
Affairs respectively contribute an interesting and provocative chapter on the
security implications of future constitutional arrangements of that order in
South Africa. In an attempt to look at the roots of potential conflict from
a viewpoint other than that of the socio-economic, Fourie says that inter
alia, perception of change by the population groups in a country such as this
one is not really open to accurate prediction in the future. The political
culture determined by the institutions and the ethos of nations will be an
important factor in the security of the state, any state. He goes on to give
a series of hypothetical examples (which he calls models) and develops the
theme of a security problem accentuated by the "Homelands patchwork".
In the latter half of the twentieth century, terrorism and guerilla activity
is and will remain a fairly constant factor in the security of the state
which cannot be overlooked. Even stable democracies long established
have found to their cost that negligence in this field is dangerous to their
continued existence. How much more then is the danger likely to be
intensified in an unstable continent such as Africa and with the "liberation"
of South Africa as a platform for the activities of the extreme left in the
rest of the world. Fourie gives a dispassionate appraisal of the problems
of frontiers and of the availability of trained military manpower. It is his
view that a security force of all races under certain kinds of constitutional
Book Reviews and Notices
provisions might very well deprive subversive movements and some terrorist
,groups of a considerable part of their raison d'etre.
It is evident that enormous problems will follow constitutional change
either of an evolutionary or revolutionary type; the latter perhaps more
than the former. Perceived revolutionary goals it is suggested. might be
substituted by evolutionary means and the same results obtained. This
perhaps is not clearly understood and the book could very well go some
way to informing the assiduous reader on the subject. It is a large book
in many ways, dealing with a large subject - our mutual future - and
deserves a serious public discussion of its main theme. Its appearance on
the scene at this time is welcome, its contents and the opinions and views
of its many authors, as well as the skilful editing, will repay careful
consideration and study.
(Published by Oxford University Press, 1978.)
The six essays in this collection, edited and introduced by Frederick Clifford­
Vaughan, were delivered as papers at a symposium held in August 1977 at
the University of Natal in Durban, under the auspices of the Department
of History and Political Science, and the South African Institute of Inter­
national Affairs. Despite the lapse of time the papers have lost little; of
their topicality and none of their interest. The issues-and the questions­
are with us still and unhappily grow ever more acute.
The publishers rightly aver that this volume "will. be of great interest to
political scientists and historians", but its appeal is much wider than this
would suggest. These papers should be of interest to every thinking person
-and (since the terms are not always synonymous) to every person thinking
about the nature of international pressure and the possible responses to it
within South Africa.
While these papers reflect the specialised knowledge of political scientists,
an historian, and a sociologist, they themselves are of general rather than
specialised interest. They are mercifully free of jargon, and should present
no difficulties to the reasonably well-informed general reader, with the
possible exception of certain passages in the papers by Johnston and
Moorcraft which touch variously on questions of methodology. and the
applicability of explanatory and predictive concepts.
The immediate interest lies, however, in the direct discussion of South
Africa's position in an era where domestic politics have become inextricably
interlinked with foreign affairs. The papers are arranged in a helpful
sequence which facilitates a developing appreciation of the problems
involved: a praiseworthy achievement, since a collection of this kind can
all too easily appear merely heterogeneous.
Johnston'spaper sets the scene by examining the transformation of world
politics since 1945 which has made international pressure so familiar, so
disturbing, and so inescapable a fact of political life. This is followed in
86 Book Reviews and Notices
Duminy's paper by an interesting exercise in applied history, taking a
backward look at pressures and responses leading to the Anglo-Boer war,
with some pessimistic albeit persuasive reflections on the contemporary
scene. It is of course no longer Britain but the U.S.A. which is in a position
today to apply enormous pressure to South Africa, and the following two
papers by Baker and Schrire explore aspects of this topic, with the former
looking at American perspectives on change in South Africa and the latter
looking at the leverage available. (Schrire's paper, it must be said, is the
very model of lucidity.) These papers are complemented by Schlemmer's
very interesting discussion of attitudes towards foreign pressure and internal
change within South Africa, on the part of the Government and the White
electorate. And finally, Moorcraft raises any number of interesting questions
about the future, though his general drift is summed up in his paper's title,
"Towards the garrison state". This, alas, is the general consensus, though
some contributors hope against hope, and Schrire even allows us a measure
of cautious optimism.
While the discussion clearly ranges over a number of crucially important
issues, it may be felt that there are some important omissions. For a more
comprehensive view of the terrain, it would have been desirable for instance
to have a fuller treatment of Britain's relationship to South Africa; of the
possible future role of the Soviet Union and its allies or surrogates-as well
as a more detailed analysis of the various modes of relevant pressure, and
their likely consequences. There is indeed room for a further symposium
-though few may feel inclined to eat, drink and be merry.
A notable feature of these papers is that they provide few answers but
raise many questions. In this they reflect not only the social scientist's
reluctance to venture into prediction, but the South African condition itself.
Among the crucial questions posed are the following:
-Can the western powers pursue a 'revolutionary' statecraft in southern
Africa without generating ruinous instability?
-Is western policy contributing not to peaceful change but to polarisation
and conflict?
-How does the U.S.A. perceive South Africa in relation to its own interests?
-Is western policy based on a misunderstanding of the probable South
African response?
-Can the western powers define their demands in a way which could gain
acceptance by the White electorate? Does the West have the diplomatic
courage to spell out demands of such a kind?
-What effective leverage does the West-especially the U.S.A.-really
-What will be the role of force?
-Is South Africa foredoomed to become a garrison state?
-Is there any feasible internal settlement short of radical partition? Would
even that be viable?
While these questions may be answered in various ways, the contributors
agree in one thing: the pressures on South Africa will persist and intensify.
This volume is a useful addition to a growing body of literature which
enables us to understand the nature of that pressure and, hopefully, respond
to it in a creative way.
87 Book Reviews and Notices
In Natalia No. 7, reference was made to the imminent publication of this
new journal which, in fact, appeared in June, 1978. Its auspicious advent is
a welcome addition to the list of journals dealing with South African history
and, in this case, with Natal and Zulu history in particular. Not only does
it contain scholarly articles dealing with a variety of historical topics but
it also has a number of book reviews written by eminent scholars in
their particular fields. Its Editors are Professor A. H. Duminy and Dr. P. R.
Maylam of the Department of History at the University of Natal, to
whom contributions may be sent. We wish this new publication a long
and fruitful life because it will not only provide young scholars with a
forum for their ideas, but it will also serve to disseminate more widely
knowledge of the latest trends in historical research in this particular field.
Register of Research on Natal
This list has been compiled solely from individual submissions from sub­
scribers to Natalia.
Persons knowing of current research work that has not been listed are asked
to furnish information for inclusion in the next issue. A slip is provided for
this purpose.
Alexander Harvey Biggar
Johannes Hendrik (Hans Dons) de Lange
The Life history of Archdeacon and Mrs
Charles J ohnson
Richard Vause
Jonsson Family from 1860 in Natal
Leathern Family from 31.7.1842 in Natal
The Administration of Lieutenant-Governor
Sir Henry Bulwer in Natal. 1875-1885
History of Dundee. Northern Natal
Lord Chelmsford and the Zulu War
Place-names in relation to the histories of the
Place-names of Natal
The Premiership of C. J. Smythe (1905-1906)
and the Bambata Rebellion
Women's Institutes Annals for Dundee Group
- Newcastle. Dundee. Utrecht
The Zulu War - the border agents and magi­
strates of Northern Natal
Die Stryd om die Afrikaanse taal in Natal
William Stanger and the early years of carto­
graphy in Natal. 1845-54
Contemporary political dynamics of Indian
South Africans
Origins of Christian Indians in Natal, 1860­
Mrs Sheila Henderson
A. J. van Wyk
D. C. Pollock
Don Stayt
G. Noel Jonsson
G. Noel Jonsson
B. Naidoo
Mrs Sheila Henderson
J. Mathews
N. T. Hunt
Don Stayt
R. J. H. King
Mrs Sheila Henderson
Mrs Sheila Henderson
A. J. van Wyk
C. E. Merrett
B. Naidoo
Mrs J. B. Brain
Compiled by J. FARRER
Select list of recent Natal
BEDFORD, S. R.. and others. Social welfare handbook: a guide to the social
welfare agencies of Durban and district, North and South coasts, KwaZulu.
Durban, Univ. of Natal, Dept. of Social Work, 1977.
BEKKER. J. C. Zulu legal terminology: the legal meaning of selected Zulu
words and phrases. Mandini, Qualitas, 1978.
BENYON, John, editor. Constitutional change in South Africa: proceedings of a
conference on constitutional models and constitutional change in South
Africa ... Pietermaritzburg. Univ. of Natal Press, 1978.
BROWNLEE, Charles Pacalt. Reminiscences of Kafir life and history. and other
papers; with an introduction, notes and index by Christopher Saunders.
Pietermaritzburg. Univ. of Natal Press, and Durban, Killie Campbell Afri­
cana Library. 1977.
DANIEL, Ivor. and Brusse, Robert, editors. Pietermaritzburg. Pietermaritzburg.
Tatham Art Gallery, and Natal Provincial Institute of Architects, 1977.
DANZIGER. Christopher. The Zululand campaign. Cape Town, Macdonald.
DEANE. Dee Shirley. Black South Africans: a who's who: 57 profiles of Natal's
leading Blacks. Cape Town, O.u.P.• 1978.
LUGG. H. C. Places of interest in Natal and Zululand. Durban. the Author,
MERRETT. Christopher. A Selected annotated bibliography of Natal maps.
Pietermaritzburg. Natal Society Library, 1977.
MKHWANAZI, Alpheus Piccy Ezekiel. A Study of the income and expenditure
patterns of the inhabitants of Umlazi with particular emphasis on the leak­
age of purchasing power. Kwa-Dlangezwa, Univ. of Zululand, 1977.
NATAL. Town and regional planning commission. A Planning guide to hiking
trails, by Dorianne Hornby. Pietermaritzburg, the Commission, 1977.
NATAL. University. The Campbell collections. Durban, the University, (1977).
NATAL. University. Dept. of Economics. Alternatives to the bulldozer: an eco­
nomic approach to squatter housing, with Icssons for South Africa. by
Gavin Maasdorp. Durban, the University, 1977.
REIS, A. P. van der. The Activities and interests of urban Blacks in Johannes­
burg, Durban and East London. Pretoria, Univ. of South Africa. Bureau of
Market Research. 1978.
WILKS. Terry. For the love of Natal: the life and times of the Natal Mercury,
1852-1977. Durban. Robinson, 1977.
Compiled by J. FARRER
Notes on Contributors
JOHN A. BENYON. Educated at Rhodes. Oxford and UNISA. BA.Hons.
(Rhodes) 1959, M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.) 1968, D.Litt et Phil. (S.A.) 1977,
UE.D. (1962). Both doctorates were written on aspects of the British High
Commissioner's imperial activities in Southern Africa. Has lectured in both
the Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown branches of Rhodes University and
became Professor of Historical and Political Studies, University of Natal, in
1977. Was also Rhodes Scholar for the Cape Province in 1960. Has pub­
lished or edited: Studies in Local History (O.U.P., 1976), Constitutional
Change in South Africa (U.N.P.• 1977). and was co-author with Guy Butler
of The 1820 Settlers (Ed. Guy Butler. H. & R.• 1974). These works are sup­
plemented by a number of articles, pamphlets, and reviews and by radio and
television talks.
FRANK EMERY. Fellow and Tutor of St. Peter's College, and University
Lecturer in Historical Geography, Oxford. Visiting Lecturer, University of
Natal, 1968. Author of articles on pre-industrial Britain and on landscape
history; chapters in Agrarian History of England and Wales, volumes four
and five; books on Wales (1969). Edward Lhuyd (1970), The Oxfordshire
Landscape (1974), and The Red Soldier. Letters from the Zulu War (1977).
First became interested in the war of 1879 when doing military service at
Brecon, in South Wales, and was then introduced to the part played by the
24th Regiment.
JENNIFER A. VERBEEK. Is a librarian who developed an interest
initially in tracing and listing historical Natal art. It then became apparent
that there were enough paintings and drawings of the Anglo-Zulu War
period to warrant separate attention, and her study of the artistic record
of the Anglo-Zulu War resulted in her M.A. thesis, An iconographic study
of the paintings of the Zulu War (Natal, 1976). Mrs Verbeek is at present
compiling a comprehensive bibliography of the Anglo-Zulu War which is
to be published by the Natal University Press during 1979, and she would
welcome information on material related to this subject.
COLIN de B. WEBB. Studied at Witwatersrand University, B.A. Hons.
1952; and at Cambridge University, B.A. 1957, and M.A. 1963. Elsie Ballot
Scholarship (Transvaal), 1955. Appointed to the Department of History and
Political Science, University of Natal, Durban, 1957, and then transferred
to the Pietermaritzburg section of the University as Senior Lecturer in 1962;
was promoted to Associate Professor in 1970. He now holds the King
George V Chair of History at Cape Town University, to which he was
appointed in January, 1976. Editor of A Guide to the Official Records of
the Colony of Natal, 1843-1910, (UN.P., 1965). Co-author with Professor
E. H. Brookes of A History of Natal (UN.P., 1965). Co-editor with John
B. Wright of The lames Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating
Notes on Contributors 91
to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples, of which Volume I
appeared in 1976 (U.N.P.). He was the first Editor of Natalia and held this
office from 1971 to 1975. He has also published several papers dealing with
aspects of Natal and Zulu history.
PESSA WEINBERG, B.Mus.(S.A.), L.T.C.L. Lives in Pietermaritzburg,
where she has for many years taught music at schools and privately. She
trains the University Choir in Pietermaritzburg, and has also worked with
a number of African choirs. At present she is engaged in research into
traditional Zulu music.
JOHN B. WRIGHT. Educated at the University of Natal, Pietermaritz­
burg. M.A. degree in 1968, for thesis on relations between the Drakensberg
Bushmen and the settlers of Natal in the mid-19th century. Worked in the
Natal Archives for two years, then as a journalist in Pietermaritzburg and
Johannesburg for three years. Joined the Department of History and
Political Science in the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in 1971. At
present a lecturer in the Department. Has published Bushman Raiders of
the Drakensberg 1840-1870 (U.N.P., 1971). Co-editor of projected multi­
volume series, The lames Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating
to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples, the first volume of
which was published by the University of Natal Press in 1976.
Zulu History and the
Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
R. A. BROWN (ed.)
The Road to Ulundi: J. N. Crealock's water-colour drawings of the
Anglo-Zulu War.
Published 1969. 28,S x 43,S cm. 48 pp. 69 illustrations, 55 in full
colour. Full cloth. R24,OO.
Lt.-Col. John North Crealock was Chelmsford's military secretary.
He rode with his artist's materials in his saddlebag and executed
his paintings wherever the column halted.
The Black People
Translated by H. Lugg and edited by A. T. Cope. To be published 1979.
21 x 14,5 cm. About 300 pp. Full cloth. ISBN 0 86980 167 8. About
Abantu Abamnyama was originally published in 1922. This ,is the
first English translation ofa unique work - a Zulu's account of
the history of his own people.
C. de B. WEBB and J. B. WRIGHT (eds.)
The James Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence relating to
the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples.
Published 1976. 25 x 17 cm. 411 pp. Full cloth. ISBN 0 86980 073 6.
The first volume of a five-volume work containing comprehen­
sively annotated statements by Zulu informants on their history
and customs. An invaluable compilation of recorded oral tradition.
KiJlie Campbell Africana Library Manuscript Series. Number One.
C. de B. WEBB and J. B. WRIGHT (eds.)
A Zulu King Speaks: Statements made by Cetshwayo kaMpande
on the History and Customs of his people.
Published 1978. 21 x 14,5 cm. 150 pp. I/Iustrations and maps.
ISBN 086980 153 8. R9,00.
In addition to the three statements made by the Zulu king after
the Anglo-Zulu War, and here made easily accessible for the first
time, the editors have provided an introduction, annotations and
an index.
Killie Campbell Africana Library Reprint Series. Number Three.
Write now for our new complete catalogue
Shuter & Shooter
An authentic account by a soldier in the
Zulu War ..•
edited by Daphne Child - Price R7,25 (ex. GST.)
This previously unpublished Journal of a man who served as Staff
Officer to Commandant Lonsdale, is an eye-witness account of the
stirring events of the Zulu War of 1879.
The Journal, giving fresh and informed observations, tells of Harford's
experiences with Chelmsford's Column at Isandhlwana and Rorke's
Drift; the recovery of the Queen's Colour of the 24th Regiment and
after the battle of Ulundi, of the capture and detention of Cetshwayo.
Harford came to know the Zulu King well while he was stationed at
Cape Town in 1881.
The publishing of this Journal, presented to the Durban Museum by
Harford's daughter in 1937, is a contribution to the historiography of
the Anglo-Zulu War. With its reproductions of the fine sketches, by
Harford himself, of characters and scenes connected with the war, it
will be a prized possession of those interested in Africana.
"Natal's Publisher"
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Nasou is proud to announce the completion
of the Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern
These twelve volumes are the biggest single
project to be published in Southern Africa.
A complete index for easy reference is included in volume 12.
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Recent Publications:
No. 4: The South African Journal, No. I and No. 11, ed. by
Thomas Pringle and John Fairbairn. Cape Town, 1824.
ISBN 086968007 2 and 0 86968 008 0 ...... Per set R7,OO
No. 5: Geschiedenis van de Kaap de Goede Hoop door Mr. J.
Suasso de Lima. Kaapstad, 1825. ISBN 0 86968 010 2
No. 5: Lyst van alle Collegien, 1806. ISBN 0 86968 01
Nos. 2-4 of this series still available.
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An important book of interest to all South Africans - 57
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