Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa


Towns: Eshowe

An area of great importance to the Zulu people with many memorials to their great kings. All the major kraals were very close to Eshowe.

Zululand: Eshowe

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The Vukani Museum houses the greatest collection of Zulu artefacts in the world. The Vukani Association manufactures basketwork of world class standards.

There are five nature reserves very close to the town.

Martyr's Bush is the spot where Shaka executed those who failed in battle and the spot where the first Christian martyr was killed.

Eshowe is at an altitude of 500m and is thus an escape from the heat and humidity of the coastal plain. It is said that the town's name came from the sound that the wind makes through the long grass.

During the 1879 Anglo/Zulu War, Colonel Pearson occupied the Norwegian mission with a view to conducting operations against Ulundi. To his surprise, the force was besieged for ten weeks by a Zulu warrior named Dabulamanzi until it was relieved, whereupon the Zulus razed the station.

At the end of the war, the British chose Eshowe as the capital of Zululand and erected administrative offices and a small fort.

Fort Nongqayi now houses the Zululand Historical Museum and many artefacts of the period including a collection of Spanish mahogany furniture once belonging to John Dunn, Zululand's only white chief and a replica of a silver beer mug given to Cetshwayo by Queen Victoria in 1882. 035 474 1141 474 4976fx 09.00 - 16.00.

The town is also the birthplace and burial place of King Cetshwayo (there is a memorial to him in the town). North of the town are the sites of three great Zulu kraals: King Shaka's kwaBulawayo, King Dingane's Umgungundlovu and King Cetshwayo's Ondini. All three sites overlook the Nkwaleni Valley 'the Valley of the Virgin Warrior' named after the celibacy that Zulu warriors were forced to practice until they had slain a foe.

In the town centre is the Vukani Museum, housed in the old Post Office and home to the Vukani ('Wake Up and Live!') Collection - the largest collection of Zulu artefacts in the world - with displays of beautiful basketwork, beadwork and pottery.

The Vukani Association was started in 1972 by a local missionary to help uplift the local population. The standard of work was of a high standard and the items are now exported overseas where they are in much demand. There are over one hundred groups now making baskets both using traditional and new designs. There is also a demand for miniatures of the baskets. 035 474 5274 Tues/Wed/Thurs: 0900 - 1300.

The oldest Victorian house in Zululand can be found in the town - Samarang - built in 1883. The old gaol, built in 1900 is a national monument.

The King Cetshwayo Memorial commemorates the spot where the king died in 1884.

In 1860, Cetshwayo built a large kraal near here and on the gravel road between the town and Empangeni there are two memorials to Shaka. The great king had his main kraal in this area - kwaBulawayo ('the place of the persecuted one').

The kraal has long gone but was estimated to be more than 5kms in circumference and could accommodate 12,000 warriors. Under a kei apple tree stands Martyr's Bush - a spot used by Shaka for executing those accused of cowardice in battle and members of defeated impis (armies). Near the town is Martyr's Cross in memory of Zululand's first Christian martyr in 1877.

Near the town are Rutledge Park and Eshlazi Dam, both lovely spots for a picnic and home to large numbers of waterbirds, as well as the original fort - KwaMondi/Fort Eshowe - 2kms outside the town.

Next to the fort is a cemetery where one hundred soldiers who died of disease during the siege are buried. Near the fort is Signal Hill which was used as a heliograph station during the siege. The soldiers in the fort were able to communicate with Fort Pearson on the Tugela River.

Outside Eshowe on the Empangeni Road is the Jabulani Craft shop. A wide selection of Zulu curios are for sale - most being manufactured by disabled people on the premises. The Shop is also the official supplier of shields to His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelethini.

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