Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa

The Natal Battlefields

The Voortrekkers - The Zulu King Dingane.

Dingane murdered Shaka to take the Zulu Throne and became as despotic as him.

The Zulu King Dingane (Dingaan)

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The royal kraal - Umgungundlovu (the place of the Great Elephant) - was built on a gently sloping hillside bounded on two sides by two streams. The kraal was surrounded by a palisade fence over two miles in circumference and contained nearly 1500 huts, each capable of holding 20 warriors.

The king's hut was far bigger than the rest and located at the highest point of the kraal in an area known as the isigodlo - the area where he and his ninety wives lived.

Dingane at this time was in his forties and gaining some weight. He was still however capable of joining his warriors in dances and very light on his feet. He was also artistic and spent much time decorating his wives and even composing songs. Having several rotten front teeth, he would put his hand over his mouth to hide them when talking.

Dingane becomes a Tyrant

Having killed his half brother Shaka some nine years previously, he had come to the throne to end the bloodshed that had characterized Shaka's reign of terror. Soon, however, he became paranoid and killed large numbers of his own subjects, either by sending out his top indunas (generals) to lay waste to some vassal chief who had offended him or by execution for such trifles as a comment or a cough or for some imagined slight

Those killed at Umgungundlovu were not executed in the kraal but dragged by the king's execution squad to a nearby hill and either beaten to death with stones or knobkerries or impaled. Go here for a layout of Dingane's kraal.

The Hill of Execution - kwaMatiwane

The hill of execution was located just across the stream that bounded the kraal and was known as kwaMatiwane (the place of Matiwane) from a local chief who had been executed there. Executions occurred almost every day with even the king's wives and top generals not immune from being dragged off.

Their remains were left for the vultures that eventually came to know when a trial was in progress and follow the condemned to the hill. Dingane referred to the vultures as 'my children' and ensured that they were kept well fed.

The Clergyman and the King

The Reverend Francis Owen who had been allowed to establish the mission was located slightly above kwaMatiwane and the royal kraal. Through his telescope, he could see and hear (and was outraged by) the daily executions. He parked one of his wagons between his house and kwaMatiwane to obscure the daily carnage.

Every day he would walk across the valley to minister to the uncomprehending Dingane who was less interested in Christianity and more interested in lessons in musketry and the use of gunpowder. However, the Reverend from Yorkshire did teach Dingane the art of painting.

Next: Zulu King Dingane and the 'umlungus'

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Natal Accommodation Guide
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