"IN DEFENCE OF THE OLD ORDER" - THE BATTLEFIELDS OF EASTERN ZULULAND


Information regarding the tour.

1. This tour lasts two days and covers approximately 600km. It is recommended that overnight accommodation should be booked at the Holiday Inn at Ulundi. Additional overnight accommodation for the night of the second day may also be required, but most people doing this tour would probably prefer to return to Durban rather than incurring extra hotel expenses.

2. The tour covers selected sites in Zululand which are chosen to give the interested visitor a good background and feeling for the Zulu military history of the area. It is designed with ease of access, comfort, security and maximum interest in mind. On this particular tour towns and petrol stations are few and far between and the visitor should ensure that his car is in good mechanical order and that he has a full tank of petrol at the start of the day. A picnic basket and liquid refreshment is also recommended for lunch. Before setting out on each section read the instructions to your next point carefully as much of this tour is done by kilometre readings.

THE TOUR FROM DURBAN: DAY ONE

3. Depart from Durban after an early breakfast using the M4 North, which can be reached by heading Northwards from the Northern beaches. A good landmark to start at is the Natal Army Command Headquarters on Argyll Road at the end of Snell Parade and opposite Battery Beach. If one leaves from here and follows Argyll Road around to the left, ignoring the sign saying "Snell Parade to Northern Beaches", you arrive at the intersection of Argyll Road and NMR Avenue. Turn right into NMR Avenue. This is the M12 North. Follow the sign saying "North-Umhlanga" and turn right at Athlone Drive. A few metres along Athlone Drive turn left to the "M4 North-North Coast".

4. Stay on the M4 towards Stanger. Prosperous suburbia gives way eventually to indigenous vegetation and sand dunes. The road leads past the seaside towns of La Mercy and Tongaat. At this point construction work on a new toll-road will be encountered which obviously alters the character of the road and

directions almost every day. At the time of compilation construction had reached Ballito, 41,5 km from Durban. To stay on the freeway to Stanger you must follow the signposts care-fully. The name changes from M4N to N4 and ultimately to N2. Follow the N2 to Stanger.

5. The road leads past Shakaskraal and Shaka's Rock. These were outspans used by King Shaka in his travels up and down the coast and, although it is true that he reviewed his troops at Shakasrock, there is no truth in the story that he marched them to their death over the rock in order to test their loyalty. The road now runs through sugar-cane fields.

King Shaka's Grave

6. At the Stanger turn-off on the left, approximately 65km from Durban, turn left onto the R74 towards Stanger and Greytown. Stanger was originally the site of Dukuza, Shaka's royal kraal. Today is an industrial and very unattractive town and is named after a former Surveyor-General of Natal. The R74 leads into the heart of Stanger.

7. Cross the first traffic-light and proceed under the railway bridge. At the next traffic light, conspicuously identified by the "Dawnside Service Station ",turn left into King George Road. Bear right with this road, which becomes Couper Street and a main shopping street. On your left you will see a conspicuous grove of trees and on your right the "Pick and Win" supermarket and bakery. Here you will find a park containing King Shaka's grave. There is a monument, a dais, three representative huts and King Shaka's throne: a rock next to the memorial. Lock your car before leaving it.

Historical Background

8. Shaka was born in Zululand in 1787 and was the illegitimate son of the Zulu chief Senzangakhona and Nandi, a daughter of the Langeni Chief. Because of his illegitimacy his life was threatened and Nandi fled with her son to Dingiswayo to seek refuge with the Mthethwa tribe. Endowed with the natural attributes of length - he was almost two meters tall - and being well proportioned and with great strength Shaka, even in early childhood, soon became a natural leader. He also had a searching and creative intellect and a certain commanding presence. Through his fearlessness he later achieved a position of influence and became kindly regarded by Dingiswayo.

9. After Dingiswayo's death and that of his father Senzan-gakhona in 1818 Shaka became chief of the Mthethwa (at that stage one of the most powerful tribes) and of the Zulus (at that stage one of the least significant). This was the start of a brilliant military career which would later earn him the title of "The Black Napoleon of Africa".

10. He reorganised his army and introduced new ways of fighting, such as using a second stabbing spear and night fighting and, in so doing, forged a large number of the Nguni clans into the Zulu nation. Thereafter, with an army of 50 000 men, he conquered the neighbouring territories and invaded the Transvaal, Mozambique and Swaziland. In so doing he launched the "Mfecane" - the wars of extermination throughout Southern Africa.

11. He adopted a friendly attitude towards the English traders and the newly arrived white settlers at Port Natal and entered into a treaty with them. In 1825, because of this friendship and for the purpose of trading, he built his new royal kraal, Dukuza (the maze), where Stanger is today. This kraal consisted of about 2 000 beehive-shaped huts and was used as a halfway trading station between Zululand and Natal.

12. On 22 September 1822 all except one of Shaka's regiments were out on military expeditions. Shaka was sitting on a rock (the rock which now stands behind his memorial) looking at some of his cattle when his two half brothers, Dingaan and Mhlangana, and Shaka's trusted body-servant approached him and began stabbing him. Severely wounded he stumbled across to near where the big tree stands at present behind his memorial, where he was finally killed. It is said that the dying Shaka addressing his murderers prophesied: "Do you think that you will rule the land?...Not you, but the white people will rule the land". The area where the murder took place was actually a small cattle kraal known as the Nyakamubi.

13. According to custom his body was draped in the skin of a black ox. The following day he was buried with all his possessions in a newly dug grain pit and covered with rocks. In 1932 the Zulu people erected a white memorial over the grave and in 1946 the rock on which he had been sitting was rolled across the road to its present site. Each year on 24 September, the Zulu king, his royal household, dignitaries and thousands of warriors gather in traditional dress at this grave to honour the man who is acclaimed to have been the founder of the Zulu nation.

14. Retrace your route to the "Dawnside Service Station" and there turn right towards the N2 North freeway.

Fort Pearson

15. At the N2 turn left towards Empangeni. A few kilometres down the road you will see the sign to Fort Pearson. Turn right here and proceed for 3 km down a stony, gravel road. Turn left at the sign for Fort Pearson and enter via the chain gate. A guard will stop you, and for R1 you may purchase a guide book. Proceed past the guard house to the parking lot at the fork at the end of the road. Fort Pearson was an earthwork fort surrounded by trenches and ditches, all clearly visible.

16. Ascend the wooden steps. At the summit you will find a diorama and yellow notice boards pointing out places of interest. Directly across the river from you, and in the cane fields, is the distinct square outline of Fort Tenedos. A pontoon was constructed across the Tugela River for the invasion of Zululand in 1879 and Forts Pearson and Tenedos formed the bridgehead. Fort Williams, an earlier fort on this site, no longer exists.

17. Retrace your route to the gate and guardhouse. The cemetery here contains the graves of men stationed at Fort Pearson who died of wounds or disease. The clearly distinguishable earth redoubt to the left of the cemetery is the remains of the Naval Brigade Redoubt.

Historical Background

18. Fort Pearson was established towards the end of 1878 when Mpanda's son, Cetshwayo, came into conflict with his brothers over the succession to the Zulu throne. Natal was in a state of turmoil and unrest and as a result the Natal Government feared that war would break out between the Zulus and themselves. They therefore built seven forts along the Tugela to protect the northern border.

19. Fort Pearson was built in 1879 to secure the crossing of the Tugela at that particular spot and replaced Fort Williams beside the old wagon drift near the mouth of the river. Fort Pearson was erected on a prominent hillock.

20. It was manned by men of the Royal Navy from HMS TENEDOS and HMS ACTIVE under Col. Pearson of the Buffs, who commanded Lord Chelmsford's Southern or Coastal Column during his advance on Zululand. A large camp was established around the fort as well as a depot for goods brought up from Durban. Telegraphic communi-cation between Durban and Fort Pearson was also installed.

The Ultimatum Tree

21. Return to the chain gate and turn left at the Fort Pearson sign. Proceed along the gravel road for 1,2km to the sign saying "Ultimatum Tree". Turn left and follow the sign to the parking lot. (Note : Freeway construction might alter these directions slightly.) The tree forms part of a picnic site and is clearly marked. A very pretty view of the river is obtained and the surrounding bush abounds with monkeys. This is the site of the pontoon bridge of 1879.

Historical Background

22. In 1878 the differences between Cetshwayo and the govern-ments of Natal and the Transvaal reached a climax. The main bone of contention was the question of the boundary between the Transvaal and Zululand, but the real issue was the threat to Natal inherent in Cetshwayo's dangerous military strength.

23. A boundary commission determined a boundary line between Zululand and the Transvaal that actually gave Cetshwayo more land than he was demanding and even included an area occupied by burghers of the Transvaal. In order to placate the resentment of the Transvalers the High Commissioner of Natal Sir Bartle Frere, adopted a very strong attitude towards Cetshwayo. His message conveying the decision about the border was accompanied by an ultimatum to accept it.

24. On the morning of 11 December 1878, the British delegation, consisting of John Wesley Shepstone, Charles Brownlee, Henry Francis Fynn and Lt.-Col. F.W.Ferestier-Walker met fourteen representatives of Cetshwayo under this tree and informed them of the decision regarding the border. The discussions were resumed in the afternoon when the ultimatum was delivered to the Zulu representatives. It was an ultimatum with demands which the British were fully aware would be impossible for the Zulu's to accept.

25. The demands were: Cetshwayo was to hand over the murderers of certain black women who had been kidnapped on the Natal side of the border; to pay compensation for molesting two White men; to disband the military organization of the Zulus; to guarantee the right of any accused person to a fair trial; to allow missionaries to return to Natal and, finally, to accept a representative of the British Government in Zululand.

26. A reply was demanded within thirty days. Cetshwayo failed to do so and merely asked for an extension of time, whereupon the Zulu War of 1879 broke out.

27. Return to the Fort Pearson sign. On your left you will see

a sign indicating war graves. The cemetery is situated in the cane fields and is marked by four tall conifer trees. It is reached, if you wish to visit it, by following the gravel farm road running off to the left and contains the graves of men who died of sickness while stationed at Fort Pearson.

Battle of the Tugela

28. Return to the N2 and turn right towards Empangeni. Immediately after crossing the John Ross Bridge across the Tugela take the first turning right. It is marked "Fort Tenedos and Tugela Mouth". A little way in along this road you will find a sign on the right indicating the site of the first battle between the British and the Zulus. The site has been thoroughly vandalised and no sign of the battle remains.

Historical Background

29. The Battle of Tugela took place at this spot on 17 April 1838. Piet Retief and his party were murdered in Dingaanstad early in February 1838, and during the night of 16 February the "Great Murder" took place along the Bloukrans and Bushman rivers. To punish Dingaan for his treachery, the Voortrekkers entered into negotiations with the English traders at Port Natal. It was agreed that the English with their black followers on the one hand, and Uys and Potgieter with a Voortrekker commando on the other would simultaneously advance on the Zulus from two directions.

30. The Voortrekker commando set out on 6 April and was defeated at the Battle of Italeni on 11 April. Two days later a force of 18 whites, 30 coloured men and about 1 500 black men under command of Robert Biggar, John Cane and John Stubbs set out from Port Natal. They advanced northwards along the coast and crossed the Tugela on the evening of 16 April by the old wagon drift near the mouth of the river.

31. At daybreak the following day this mixed force, many of them armed with rifles, attacked Ndondakusuka, a kraal built by Dingaan on high ground near the river. They had little difficulty in taking the kraal, but were then unexpectedly attacked by a Zulu force of about 7 000 men under the command of the Zulu general Nongalaza, an experienced leader who had been trained by Shaka.

32. The English force had the advantage of high ground and of being armed with rifles. They therefore inflicted heavy losses on the advancing Zulus, but the discrepancy in numbers was too great and they were forced back. Many of them were driven over the high cliff and fell into the river while 600 died on the battlefield. Fifteen whites, including the three leaders, were killed.

33. Although this battle ended so disastrously, it forced Dingaan to divide his army to meet the threat caused by the mixed force and prevented him from following up his victory at Italeni more effectively.

Battle of the Princes

34. Return to the N2 and turn right towards Empangeni. The valley and the stream to your left is the scene of the Battle of Ndondakusuka in 1856. Also known as the "Battle of the Princes," as it was fought between Cetshwayo and Mbulazi, it established Cetshwayo's supremacy in his bid for the Zulu throne.

Historical Background

35. The illfeeling between Mpanda's two sons Cetshwayo and Mbulazi could not be healed. Both vied for the throne. Mpanda sensed the antagonism between the two but could do nothing about it except to keep the two apart. He ordered Mbulazi to live with his mother on the Mfaba Hills and Cetshawayo was sent with his mother to a Mthetwa military kraal. Cetshwayo's followers were known as the Usutu and those of Mbulazi as the iziGqoza.

36. In 1856 the rivalry between the two brothers came to a head. Mbulazi gathered his supporters and marched to an old kraal established by Dingaan, named Ndondakusuka (slow to move). Here he left his followers and crossed the Tugela. On the opposite side he saw the British border agent and asked for aid, which was promptly refused. Having failed, he sought the help of various African and European people and traders who had sought sanctuary in Natal. Promising them liberal rewards he managed to recruit about 300 people, amongst them John Dunn, J.Waugh and J. Rathbone - all well-known traders who saw a golden opportunity in this venture.

37. About 7 000 of Mbulazi's men were gathered at Ndondakusuka. Two days later Cetshwayo arrived with his Usutu army of about 20 000 and set out to encircle Mbulazi's army at the kraal. With this superiority of enemy numbers Dunn saw that the battle was lost and managed to escape by charging his way out of one the encircling sections.

38. The iziGqoza were completely routed. Six of Mpanda's sons, including Mbulazi were killed that day. The battle ended with the iziGcoza fleeing towards the Tugela river. On its banks a further slaughter of what was left of Mbulazi's army took place. Many of those who escaped the spears drowned in the river.

39. This decisive battle at Ndondakusuka established Cetshewayo as the undisputed heir to the throne. As a sign of his triumph he erected a kraal Gingindlovu (the swallower of the elephant) in the vicinity. The name has its origin in his belief that, by defeating Mbulazi, he had eaten the greatest opponent of his ambitions. The small stream running through the valley is known today as the Mathambo (Place of Bones).

Battle of Gingindlovu

40. Continue along the N2 to Empangeni. Despite the name on the sign do not turn off at the Gingindlovu turn-off as this leads to Gingindlovu village. Continue past this sign and turn left onto the R68 to Eshowe and Melmoth. A very short distance along this road turn left at the Gingindlovu sign. Slightly further on where the road forks, take the road to the right, and the war graves cemetery is on the left. It is overgrown and in disrepair and has obviously been plundered and vandalised. The fallen soldiers share the graveyard with the deceased of the local farming community.

41. Return to the Eshowe road and turn left. Almost immediately on your left you will find a granite monument marking the site of the Battle of Gingindlovu.

Historical Background

42. The battle of Gingindlovu was one of the battles of the Zulu War of 1879. It took place on 2 April 1879 and formed part of the battles fought in the so-called second invasion.

43. After the defeat of the British forces at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, Lord Chelmsford had to change his plans. He withdrew to Pietermaritzburg and worked out a plan of attack on the Zulu capital, Ulundi. This involved two British forces, one moving from the Natal midlands towards Ulundi and the other force moving up from Fort Pearson along the coastal route. His immediate aim was to relieve Eshowe, which was under Zulu siege.

44. On route they came to Gingindlovu, a royal kraal, which King Cetshewayo had established after having defeated his rival brothers at the Battle of Ndondakusuka in 1856. Lord Chelmsford, with a force of 3 390 white soldiers, 2 280 black levies and 122 wagons carrying supplies, proceeded with extreme caution. Large parties of Zulus were seen in the vicinity and he took no chances. Establishing a defence laager consisting of earth walls and barricaded with wagons mounted on the walls he awaited the Zulu onslaught. This took place the following day when the Zulu general Dabulamanzi spearheaded a Zulu attack of some 10 000 men and surrounded the British stronghold.

45. The Zulu attack was completely futile. In the forty minutes that the battle lasted the Zulus suffered 1 200 casualties; the British casualties being nine killed and fifty-two wounded.

Battle of Inyezane

46. Eight kilometres further along the road it crests a hill and one has a good view of two hills in front with the road running between them and up the other side. This is the site of the Battle of Inyezane.

47. At the Nyezane sign, turn left and follow the gravel road for + 300 metres to where the road forks (almost a T-junction). Take the road to the right which is a short, rutted track leading to a monument in the trees behind some huts. This track is the old wagon road and the monument marks the site of the Battle of Inyezane.

48. Retrace your route and turn left onto the Eshowe Road again. The modern road runs right through the middle of the battlefield which extends on both sides of the road. The most fighting took place on the slopes of the hill on the right on which a plantation has now been started.

Historical Background

49. The Battle of Inyezane, which took place not far from Gingindlovu, was part of the first move by the British to invade Zululand and capture Ulundi. Col. Pearson had left Fort Pearson on about 18 January 1879 on his way north. He had planned to reach Eshowe, which in those days was known as KwaMondi, a Norwegian mission station, and to establish himself there. Having crossed the Inyezane stream, he reached an open stretch of ground at around 08:00 on 22 January. He decided to give his troops a breakfast break and sent out a reconnoitering party, which then observed a concentration of Zulus on top of the hill on the right.

50. A company of soldiers was then sent to flush out the Zulus. Their strength could not be ascertained, but it transpired that they were a Zulu force of considerable strength because, while one portion which the British had observed withdrew, another Zulu force on the far side of the hill made itself visible coming down its slopes.

51. The British forces had to cross a narrow valley, swampy in parts and heavily overgrown, through which the road now runs. As they reached the opposite bank they came under heavy fire from the Zulus who, although in possession of guns, were notoriously bad marksmen. Notwithstanding this, the British came under severe pressure and the battle developed into a short, sharp fight between the opposing parties. Eventually the Zulus withdrew and the British, having collected their wounded, made their way back to the base camp.

52. The British losses consisted of 8 or 9 white soldiers and five black Natal Native Contingent members. They were buried on the edge of the then old main road which passed on the southern side of the hills overlooking the Inyezana crossing.

53. The monument inscribed with the names of the casualties is erected on the site.

54. The new road passes between the hills and up the ravine that the British troops had to cross, and actually bisects the battle area.

Site of Cetshwayo's Death

55. Now follow the directions very carefully. On reaching the sign "Eshowe Businesses" turn left and enter Eshowe beyond the Ocean View Game Park on your right. Continue past the prison and military base and, at the T-junction marked by the OK Bazaars, turn left, following the sign to the Zululand Historical Museum. At the next fork bear left towards the Amble Inn. Where the sign points right towards the Zululand Historical Museum turn left into William Chadwick Drive. Although the trees abound with monkeys the area is a built-up residential one and the marker in the middle of the road at its end is all that remains of what was once a royal kraal. This is the site of Cetshwayo's death and last royal residence.

Historical Background

56. After the destruction of Ulundi, which is today known as Ondini 2, Cetshwayo returned from banishment and re-established his royal kraal about a kilometre and half from the original settlement of Ondini 2. He rebuilt that kraal on a very much smaller scale.

57. In June 1883 he assembled at Ondini 3 a large group of the most prominent chiefs and Indunas in Zululand. At that time rivalry had sprung up between Cetshwayo and a blood relation, Zibepho Kmaphita. Zibepho, whose domain was to the north near Umkuza, some fifty kilometres away from Ulundi, was bent on ousting Cetshwayo as king of the Zulus.

58. On the evening of 21 June he assembled his soldiers and, leaving Unkuza, marched his soldiers through the night to Ulundi where he arrived at dawn. While the Zulus were still asleep in their huts or wiping the sleep out of their eyes, he gave the order to attack. The huts were put to the torch and as the occupants tried to get out they were stabbed. In the process some 52 of the most prominent people of Zululand and the cream of Zululand's aristocracy died. The names and number are known because an official of the Natal Government was present, and was able to reconstruct a list of casualties.

59. Cetshwayo tried to flee but was overtaken by two young warriors. One of them threw his spear and severely wounded Cetshwayo in the thigh. He turned around and said, "My children, what are you doing to your father?". With that the two men realised who Cetshwayo really was. Still having respect for the king they let him go. Cetshwayo hid in a cluster of trees and managed to escape. He eventually took refuge with the British resident at Eshowe Sir Melmoth Osborne, who then permitted him to establish a new kraal on the outskirts of Eshowe village.

60. Today the site is marked by a concrete marker in the middle of this road inside the Eshowe residential area. This was the end of Cetshwayo's reign because six months later in February 1884 he fell ill and died.

Fort Nongqai

61. Retrace your route down William Chadwick Drive to the sign on the right indicating the Zululand Historical Museum. Cross the four-way stop and follow the signs to the Museum, a large "Beau Geste" type of fort. Park in the parking lot. Admission is free and toilets are available. The museum contains an interesting display of local history including, in the parking lot, an anchor from HMS TENEDOS which was used to anchor the pontoon bridge across the Tugela at Fort Pearson.

Historical Background

62. Fort Nongqai was built after the Zulu War to accommodate the Zululand Mounted Police, which was established after Zululand had been subjugated. The first British resident to be appointed and to take command of affairs in Zululand was Sir Melmoth Osborne after whom the town Melmoth was named.

63. He moved his staff to Eshowe to enable him to enforce his authority. To control the tribesmen and to keep order in the territory the Zululand Mounted Police Force was established consisting of Zulu troopers under an inspector, Lt-Col. Mansell.

64. The Nongqai fort was built with crenulated walls and a courtyard and quarters for these men, together with stabling for their horses. The old fort has had rather a chequered history. It was used for all sorts of purposes, including being a depot for the roads department, but has now been converted into a proper museum of Natal and Zululand history.

Fort KwaMondi

65. The next instructions must be followed carefully. On leaving the parking lot turn immediately left. At the fork, follow the road to the right and proceed down the hill and back to the stop-street at the Magistrate's office. Turn left there and go back through the town by crossing a bridge to the town's shopping centre at the corner of John Ross and Osborne roads. Continue along Osborne Road through the central business district and, where the road forks stay on Osborne Road. At the traffic light, where a sign indicates "Gezinsila - Gingindlovu- Melmoth," turn right and head for Gezinsila.

66. Stay on the Gezinsila road as it crosses the freeway and enters the township. The tarred road becomes gravel and at this point you will see a cemetery on your left. This is the Norwegian Cemetery. Immediately after this cemetery there is an opening between two fence-posts and a cairn in front of the cemetery to the left of the gate posts. Enter through the opening between the two fence-posts and look behind the cemetery where there are some scattered graves and trees. A few moments of concentration and walking about will reveal earthworks, ditches, the outline of the fort and a gun emplacement on the road to the right of the cemetery when viewed from the far end.

67. Diagonally across the road to the left as you leave fort KwaMondi is a farm road leading into the bush. 100 metres down this road on the right is the KwaMondi military cemetery.

Historical Background

68. Fort KwaMondi is located on the exact site previously occupied by the KwaMondi mission station established by a Norwegian missionary, the Rev. Amund Oftebro. As the Zulus could not pronounce his first name, and because it sounded to them very similar to Mondi - a forest creeper - they called this mission station the "Place of Mondi", and the fort eventually became known, by that name in addition to its real name, Fort Eshowe.

69. Around the mission station a proper fort was built, designed by the Royal Engineers. The original plans of this fort still exist today. It encompassed the mission house, the church, the chapel and other buildings. These were turned into a hospital and were surrounded by tents. The fort was to be used as a stronghold in the event of an attack, although there has never been a proper attack on Fort Kwa Mondi. From 22 January to 3 April 1879 it was "besieged" by Zulu soldiers; then relieved by Lord Chelmsford's forces after the battle of Gingindlovu. This siege was not, however, a proper siege, as the Zulu forces were in some places four to five miles from the fort. It did mean though that the British garrison could not move freely and that they were completely cut off from the surrounding world. They could only venture out under heavy guard and could certainly not re-establish contact with the troops at Fort Pearson. The only means of communication was by the use of a heliograph.

Fort Mthonjaneni

69. Retrace your route to the cemetery where the gravel road becomes tar, and back towards the central business district. At the four way stop turn right on the R68 for Melmoth and therefore out into the cane fields. Eight kilometres out from the stop one comes to a small divisional road marked P230 which, if taken, ultimately takes one to the original Bulawayo. This was Shaka's Kraal from where Msilikatze fled to found a new Bulawayo and the Matabele nation. The 15 km gravel road is in a poor condition and this excursion is not recommended as there is no sign of the original kraal.

70. Continue on the road to Melmoth. What appears to be a large monument will appear on the hill in front of you . This is not a monument, however, but the spire of a Roman Catholic church situated over the hill, Amandawe Hill. The church is a tribute to the first Zulu martyr and a site below the hill was the site of the earliest known Zulu royal kraal. The road runs on through rolling hills to Melmoth, an administrative dormitory town for civil servants employed in Ulundi. Continue on the same road for Ulundi.

71. About halfway between Melmoth and Ulundi you will come across the sign for Mthonjaneni. Turn left here. Drive past the stockyard, and on your right you will find the well-preserved earthworks of Fort Mthonjaneni, indicated by a signboard.

Historical Background

72. The fort derives its name from a nearby spring, Mthonjaneni, which became famous in early Zulu history because it provided the personal supply of drinking and bathing water for the Zulu king Dingaan.

73. Near the Mthonjaneni spring the British established forts as part of the invasion of Zululand. There are two forts in existence. This one, opposite the Kataza Trading Store, is a small circular fort surrounded by a deep trench and with a centre inner stronghold. The first people to occupy this site belonged to a Voortrekker commando which, after having captured Umgungundlovu, sent a cattle raiding party out to search for Dingaan's cattle and established themselves here in a temporary camp. The other larger fort, also known as Fort Mthonjaneni, is inside a eucalyptus plantation and not readily accessible.

Mthonjaneni Spring

74. Return to your car and the stockyard. The old main road, which is tarred, passes in front of the stockyard. Follow this road to just beyond the end of the stockyard railings and stop. A turnstile and a path on your left leads down to a green pool with a pump house. A spring out of the rock face is marked by a plaque indicating that this is where King Dingaan obtained his drinking water, which was fetched daily by his wives who walked across from Umgungundlovu.

oPathe Gorge

75. Return to the stockyards and turn left back to the Melmoth/Ulundi road. Turn left here onto the R34 and proceed slowly for + 150 metres. Exercising great care, cross the road to the vantage point overlooking a magnificent valley. This is oPathe Gorge, the scene of a desperate battle between the Zulu's and Voortrekkers in 1838.

Historical Background

76. The oPathe Gorge has its source near the top of a range of hills in which Mthonjaneni is situated. The gorge extends in a northerly direction and the oPathe stream, which flows through this rather steep depression, runs into the White Umfolozi river. It's sides are very steep, boulder strewn, and covered with aloes. It played a very important part in Zulu history because a Boer commando which had been sent out from Umgungundlovu to Mthonjaneni to search for Dingaan's cattle was ambushed in this gorge.

77. While the Voortrekker commando was encamped at Mthonjaneni they captured a Zulu, named Ngcobo, who claimed to be a herdsman. The Boers accused him of being a spy. He protested most vehemently saying that he was merely trying to link up with the herdsmen of the royal herds which were in the Umfolozi valley. Some of the Voortrekkers disbelieved him and wanted to shoot him. Others said that he should be given the opportunity to prove himself.

78. They put Ngcobo on a horse and he directed the Voortrekkers to a ridge overlooking the Umfolozi valley. Ngcobo took them down to the valley of the oPathe stream by a very steep path. As they reached the bottom, not far from the confluence of the oPathe and the Umfolozi, the Voortrekkers saw some men who, apparently were herdsmen fleeing into the bush. The Boers stopped and asked Ngcobo who they were. He replied that they were some of the royal herdsmen. The Voortrekkers fired a few shots after them and, from the sound of the shots, this ridge became known as Sae-qon-qo, imitating the sound of musket fire.

79. At the same time the Voortrekkers saw what appeared to be cattle in the bushes, but were in fact Zulus holding up their shields and at a distance giving the impression of being cattle. This deceived the Voortrekkers. When they eventually arrived at the bottom they wanted to ask Ngcobo where the cattle had disapeared to . But he was nowhere to be seen. While they were looking for him a voice was heard from across the river shouting "Babaphakati!" (They are inside!) and the Voortrekkers could see the Zulu soldiers at a safe distance rising from the cover of the bushes and aloes.

80. It became a question of whether the Boers should defend themselves there or whether they should retreat. After a very brief counsel of war led by their leader Hans de Lange, they decided to retreat and managed to break through the encircling Zulus. After having to cross the White Umfolozi river several times because of its large bends, they managed to get onto the northern side of the Umfolozi river and onto the Ulundi plain. From there they made their way back to Umgungundlovu but, in recrossing the river on the way, they were cut off by a young Zulu regiment and suffered severe losses.

81. Five Voortrekkers were killed together with Alexander Biggar, an English resident from Port Natal and former Imperial officer who had also taken part in the Battle of Blood River. Several of Biggar's retainers were also killed.

82. Continue along the road to Ulundi, taking the R66 to Ulundi and Nongoma. This enters Ulundi and becomes King Dinizulu Drive. At Princess Magogo Street turn right and the Holiday Inn is on your right.

DAY TWO

King Mpanda's Grave.

83. After another early breakfast, book out of the hotel and, on leaving the Holiday Inn, turn right into Princess Magogo Street. Immediately after the last shops on the left (opposite the Ulundi Liquor Inn) turn left onto an unmarked gravel road. This road leads directly to Nondwengu, about 100 metres in, the site of King Mpanda's royal kraal and his grave. The site is marked by a monument and gravestone.

Historical Background

84. Mpanda had his royal kraal at Nondwengu and had reigned for 32 years. Because of his obesity, his eldest son Cetshwayo had virtually become the regent and had taken over the practical kingship and management of the Zulu people for the last six years of Mpanda's reign. In the latter part of Mpanda's life he could hardly walk or attend to the affairs of state and had to be drawn around on a little cart. In 1872 he fell ill.

85. In the meanwhile Cetshwayo had been singled out as being the eldest son and, having the support and recognition of the Natal Government, he started building a new kraal for himself not far from Nondweni. Mpanda died in October 1872 but the actual date of his death is unknown because of the Zulu custom of not announcing the death of a king immediately. Cetshwayo became king and Mpanda was buried at his Nondwengo kraal.

86. It was Zulu custom in those days to kill people and bury them with the king to accompany him to the spiritual world. One such person was to have been his favourite wife, but his Prime Minister, Masipula, arranged for someone else to be killed and burnt in her place.

87. The grave was left unattended for decades until recently when the KwaZulu Government decided to upgrade the graves of their ancient kings.

Gqokli Hill

88. Careful navigation is once again called for. Retrace your route to Princess Magogo Street and turn right beyond the Holiday Inn. At King Dinizulu Highway, the R66 to Melmoth, turn left.

89. At the first major tarred road, turn right. This road is identified only by crash barriers on the corner and has no road sign. After 1 km on this road you will arrive at a T-junction. Turn left. This is the old main road and is also marked as the R66. Approximately 3,4 km further on the road crosses the White Umfolozi River over a large bridge. About 3 km further on a small conical hill will come into view on your left. This is Gqokli Hill. Proceed until you have a large green farmhouse with a tall water tower on your right. You are then next to Gqokli Hill on your left, a conical hill covered with aloes. The battle which took place on this hill established King Shaka's military reputation and introduced the use of the short stabbing assegai.

Historical Background

90. Gqokli Hill is the place where Shaka established his supremacy as the rising star of the Zulu nation. It is here that he met the Dwande, a far stronger rival Nguni tribe, in battle.

Gqokli Hill on the south bank is a high point overlooking the White Umfolozi river. It is here that Shaka made a stand and actually enticed the Ndwande army to attack him. He showed his strategic skills by concentrating his army on the summit and placing his reserves on lower ground, out of site of the enemy.

91. Legend has it that he even went so far as to accumulate a reserve of water in containers on the hill to be available to his soldiers to quench their thirst without having to leave the battle lines.

92. The battle began by Shaka displaying small herds of cattle around the hill. By so doing he managed to attract the attention of the Ndwande army and entice them to capture the cattle, thereby fragmenting their force. The main Ndwande body advanced to find that they were faced by a massed Zulu force all armed with stabbing spears. Gqokli Hill is about two miles distant from the Umfolozi River and, because of the heat, the Ndwande soldiers had to drop out of battle and go back this distance to the river to quench their thirst. This was not necessary for the Zulus who had a supply of water. When the fighting slackened, Shaka brought his reserves forward and defeated the Ndwande, who were led by the eldest son of Zwide, heir to the Ndwande throne.

93. In this battle the Ndwande lost a number of their princes. Shaka's prestige grew after this battle and many other tribes were now prepared to accept him as the leading force in the area. Many tribes, not wishing to share the same fate as the Ndwande, freely offered their services to Shaka. By doing so they became known as the people of the Zulu, which was the birth of the Zulus as a nation.

King Dingaan's Kraal

94. Continue straight ahead. After + 10 km the old R66 and the new one merge and you must turn right at the yield sign. At the R34 T-junction turn right towards Gluckstadt and Vryheid. After 3 km you will see a sign to Dingaanstat. Turn left there. The road is tarred but becomes a good gravel road. After + 6 km the road passes through a gate. You are now entering the Valley of the Kings. The mission station on the left is a DR mission but stands on the site of the original Owen's Mission. On the hills in the distance you will see the beehive huts of Dingaan's kraal. The denuded area around it indicates the site of the original kraal. Carry on along the road, across the stream and up to the museum. As you enter the gates of the museum stop and look to the left. Under a tree next to a "no entry" sign is the grave of King Isinkulu, the founder of the Zulu nation. He is buried at the original entrance to the royal kraal. Continue to the upper parking area. There is a R2 per car admission fee. Guided tours of the site are provided and it is customary to tip the guide. There is a site museum and there are toilets at the lower parking area.

Historical Background

95. The Zulu name for Umgungunghlovu when translated means "the secret conclave of the elephant". After Dingaan and Mhlangana assassinated their elder brother Shaka at Dukuza (Stanger), neither Dingaan nor Mhlangana could be installed as new king until the army returned from its latest campaign. This allowed Dingaan time to dispose of Mhlangana and to consolidate his claim to the Zulu leadership. On the return of Shaka's warriors from a disastrous mission in Mozambique, the warriors were in no condition to dispute Dingaan's coup d'etat and were only too glad to have escaped Shaka's wrath.

96. The warriors, battleweary and eager to return to their homes, approved Dingaan's appointment to the throne. The consensus of opinion was that Dingaan, inspired by the ancestors, had killed Shaka in order to free Zululand from the heel of tyranny. Dingaan thereafter left Dukuza and proceeded to Nobamba in the emaKhoseni valley, the ancestral royal homestead of his grand-father Jama. Here he built his new royal kraal, Umgungundlovu, in 1829.

97. The new kraal consisted of some 3 000 huts. The military settlement inside, the ikhanda, was more or less oval and consisted of 1 400 to 1 700 huts which could house between 5 000 and 7 000 soldiers. This number varied as regiments were called up at different times. The huts stood six to eight deep and formed a huge circle around an open area known as the large cattle kraal (isibaya esikhulu). This space was also used for military parades and gatherings and is the place where Dingaan received visits from English traders from Port Natal. Henry Fynn, Dick King and Nathaniel Isaacs came here bringing presents and bartering beads and other goods for ivory.

98. Captain Allen Gardiner visited Dingaan, begging him to allow a missionary to settle at Mgungundlovu. The result was that the Rev. Francis Owen was stationed there. On Dingaan's instruction Owen erected his camp across the Mjhumbane on the hill, Hlom' amaButho, where the parsonage of the Dutch Reformed church now stands. Owen worked here for a little more than a year and from this hillock was the only white person to witness the tragic death of Piet Retief and his companions.

Piet Retief's Grave

99. Return down to the museum entrance gates and across the Mkhumbane stream to Piet Retief's grave on the left. If you stand at the grave and look up to the monument on the hill above you and you then look to the left at the next koppie you will see a plain concrete marker under a tree. The marker indicates where the remains of Piet Retief and his followers were actually found.

Historical Background

100. By the middle of 1837 the vanguard of the Great Trek had reached the Drakensberg. Piet Retief and a few followers proceeded from Kerkenberg via Port Natal to Mgungundlovu to obtain a grant of land from Dingaan on which the Voortrekkers could settle. Dingaan insisted that the Voortrekkers should first recover some cattle which Sikonyella, chief of the Mantatisi in Northern Lesotho, had stolen from him, before the question of land for the Voortrekkers could be discussed. On the 3rd of February 1838, Retief with 69 of his companions and about thirty coloured servants, returned to Mgungundglovu with the cattle.

101. Thereafter Dingaan drew up a treaty whereby the Voortrekkers received all the land between the Tugela and the Umzimvubu "and from the sea to the north as far as the land may be useful and in my possession". This document, dated 4 February was signed on the 6th at the time of the final interview.

102. On that morning Piet Retief, his companions and all their servants entered the kraal for a final meeting and farewell.

103. At the entrance to the kraal they were told that it was not polite or custom to bring in their weapons. Reluctantly they left their horses and guns at the entrance with their 32 attendants. The Voortrekkers, some 70 in all with Piet Retief, then entered the main cattle kraal where they were received by the king. He had assembled some of his regiments to perform war dances and to sing the King's praises. At a given moment the King stood up and shouted "Bulala aMatagati!" - ("Kill the wizards!") and, with that, the Zulu warriors who had appeared to be unarmed, bent down and out of the cow dung in the kraal produced spears which had been hidden there and with which they attacked the Voortrekker group. This group fought back as best they could. As it was contrary to Zulu custom to spill blood in the Royal kraal the Zulus had to overpower the Voortrekkers who resisted fiercely, using their hunting knives and their fists. Some actually died in the kraal but most of them were overpowered and dragged over the Omkumbane stream to Kwamatimbane, the "place of execution".

104. This is a little ridge where in the past all people who met with the displeasure of the king were executed, sometimes merely to feed the vultures. Dingaan would often look at the sky and say, : "my children are hungry", and then nod his head to his executioners who would select people from the public throng to feed the vultures.

105. Legend has it that Piet Retief, as leader of the deputation, had to witness the killing of all his companions before he himself was clubbed to death.

106. The remains of the Voortrekkers were only discovered and retrieved when a Voortrekker commando moved on towards Umgungundlovu after the Battle of Blood river on 16 December 1838. On Christmas Day the Voortrekker commando had reached the remains of the royal kraal which Dingaan, well aware of the approach of the commando, had in the meanwhile fled, having ordered that it should be burnt down. What is left today has been preserved by the fire, the heat of the burning huts turning the clay floors into a hard brick substance.

Ulundi Battlefield

107. Retrace your route up the gravel and tarred road to the R34 junction and turn right towards Melmoth. At the R66 to Ulundi and Nongona turn left towards Ulundi. On your way back to Ulundi you will pass the sign to Fort Nolela. Only the remnants remain of Fort Nelela, a stone fort built by Lord Chelmsford to guard Nolela drift across the White Umfolozi river.

108. Enter Ulundi and, at the sign to the airport, turn right into King Cetshwayo Drive. Leave the airport on the right and stop where the tar becomes gravel. The dome of the Ulundi battlefield monument is on your left. Park your car in front of the gate where the attendant will look after it. The grounds surrounding the monument are laid out to represent the British "square" battle formation and the dome of the monument represents a traditional beehive hut.

Historical Background

109. In late 1878, the British colonial government in South Africa, fearing that the independent state of Zululand posed a threat to British expansionism, handed King Cetshwayo an ultimatum demanding that, among other things, he disband the Zulu army and the age regiment system. Although under orders from the Colonial Office in London to exercise "prudence", King Cethswayo's refusal to comply with these demands gave the British Governor the necessary excuse to order an invasion. In January 1879 a British force under the command of Lt.Gen. Lord Chelmsford entered Zululand.

110. After the battles of Kambula and Gingindlovu in April and May 1879, where the Zulu army suffered heavy losses, King Cetshwayo sent messengers to request the British to withdraw from Zululand. Gen Chelmsford made it clear that before negotiations could take place, King Cetshwayo would have to surrender the royal cattle herd as well as all Zulu firearms. The king once more sent messengers bearing ivory as a peace token to inform Chelmsford that these demands could not be met.

111. Chelmsford, keen for the British to redeem themselves after the disastrous and embarrassing defeats at Isandlwana, iNtombi Drift and Hlobane, led an advance on the Zulu capital, Ondini.

112. On the morning of 4 July 1879 the British force crossed the Mfolozi river at Nolela Drift. The force bearing 12 artillery pieces and 2 Gatling guns, consisted of 5 124 troops including 958 black volunteers. They marched in the form of a hollow square and halted on a low hill about 3 km west of Ondini.

113. A Zulu force, estimated to have numbered some 15 000 soldiers, converged on the British square. The encircling Zulu force was, however, cut down by artillery and rifle fire and the Zulu attack did not get much closer than 70 m from the British ranks. For an half an hour the Zulus fought in vain and were finally forced to capitulate.

114. Worse than defeat for the Zulus was that their symbol of nationhood was destroyed. This happened when a troop of Dragoon guards was sent to one of the royal kraals not far from Umgungundlovu where one of the ancient kraals was situated. At this kraal the Zulu national coil, the Inkata, was kept. The Inkata was a coil made of grass, magic substances and body parts of deceased kings, all bound with a python skin and which represented the power of the Zulu nation. It was brought out only on very special occasions.

115. The destruction of that magic coil was a definite indication to the Zulu people that their kingdom and their existence as a nation had come to an end. King Cetshwayo sought refuge in the Ngome forest near the present-day town of Nongoma. He was captured there two months later and exiled to the Cape. The battle of Ulundi saw the final defeat of the Zulu army and the crushing of the Zulu state, thus marking the end of the old Zulu order.

Ondini

116. Return to the road and turn left onto the gravel. The road surface is good but beware of cattle and children. A short distance down the road on the left you will come to the Ondini Zulu Cultural Museum. Enter at the furthest gate on the left and proceed, not to the main parking lot, but to the parking area outside the museum. On entering the museum a guide will accompany you on a full tour of the museum, out-buildings and royal kraal if asked to do so. Remember to ask to see each item, i.e. the royal funeral wagon, the diorama, the royal kraal and the royal herd, as you shown only what you ask to see . It is customary to tip the guide. Ondini is the site of King Cetshwayo's royal kraal. Toilets are available.

Historical Background

117. This great kraal of Cetshwayo was situated on the Mahlabatini Flats, on the left bank of the White Umfolozi.

118. Cetshwayo succeeded his father Mpanda as Paramount Chief of the Zulus in 1872. In accordance with Zulu custom, he destroyed his father's kraal Nondwengu, and built a new one for himself. This he named Ondwini.

119. This kraal occupied a area of about 60 hectares and, in accordance with Zulu tradition, was modelled on Dingaan's kraal, Umgungundlovu. This was Cetshwayo's main place of residence until 1879.

120. Many of the hearths and hut floors, including that of Cetshwayo's own hut, which measured 8,5m in diameter, may still be seen at the site of the second Ondini.

Ondini 3

122. On leaving Ondini turn left along the same gravel road and proceed for 0,6 km. The black obelisk on the left is the site of King Cetshwayo's royal kraal before his exile and death in Eshowe.

Historical Background

123. After the battle of Ulundi, Cethswayo was captured and exiled to the Cape. From there he was sent to Britain. He was later reinstated as Paramount Chief by Queen Victoria. After his return he built a second Ondini to the north of the first. In the civil war that followed his reinstatement, he was driven out and on 21 July 1883, the new kraal was destroyed by Sibebo's soldiers.

RETURN JOURNEY AND ALTERNATIVE

124. You now have a choice. You may return to Ulundi by retracing your route along the gravel road and then on to the R66 to Melmoth, Eshowe and Durban or you may do the following :

Mfolozi Game Reserve

125. From Ondini 3 continue along the same gravel road away from Ulundi for a further + 14 km. It is a good gravel road but beware of cattle and pedestrians. At about this distance the road forks. Neither road is signposted but the minor road to the right is the one to take. The road to the left appears to be the main road as it is well surfaced with black coal dust, but is, in fact, a colliery road leading to a mine. The road to the right appears to become a farm road, especially as it passes through a cattle grid almost immediately after the fork. Never-the-less, a few kilometres further on it enters the back entrance of the Mfolozi Game Reserve which is open from 06:00 to 18:00. (last entrance time 16h30). Allow 2 hours for passing through the park.

126. Admission to the park is R7 per head and the guard will give you a large-scale road map of the park. Follow the map and road signs to Mpila camp where toilets and light refreshments are available. From Mpila stay on the same road, which will take you to Mambeni gate. Game is abundant so drive slowly. On clearing the park at Mambeni gate beware of curio sellers, goats and children on the access road to the R618.

127. At the R618 turn right towards Mtubatuba and Hluluwe. At the junction with the N2 turn right and follow the freeway to Durban via Empangeni, Stanger and the same north coast towns you passed on your outward trip. We hope you found your trip interesting.

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