James Stuart.

A history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation online

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an account has already been given. A deeply-rooted
antagonism towards the white man on the part of some
began to manifest itself, accompanied by a spirit of defiance
that found expression in many ways. Hardly less subver-
sive and disintegrating were the effects of coming into
contact with thousands of British soldiers, and the ludi-
crously f amihar attitude of the latter towards Natives during
the Boer War.

AHve to the necessity of assistmg parents in a matter of
this kind, the Government — the Prime Minister then being
the Hon. C. J. Smythe — ^had its own predicament to consider.
The wave of great financial depression, brought on by the
protracted War, had told severely on the Colony. The
Treasury was empty. The credit of the Colony was falUng.
As much as 6% was being paid on temporary loans, mstead
of the average rate of 3|% for years paid on pubHc loans.
A necessity for institutmg new taxing measures was urgent.
Already, whilst the preceding Sutton Muiistry was in power,
had the need for taxation made itself felt. Among the bills
of that ministry was one that proposed the imposition of a
poU tax, but beyond pubhcation in the Gazette, no further
steps had been taken in regard thereto.

When the Smythe Ministry came to look into the fuiancial
position, it decided to adopt some of its predecessor's
taxing measures and to discard others. Among those
discarded, was a PoU Tax BiU. Certain other bills, among
them one dealing with unoccupied lands, were passed by the
Legislative Assembly, only to be rejected by the Legislative
Council. With the end of the session in view and no pro-
vision made for equahsing revenue and expenditure, it


became imperative to impose some other form of taxation.
There was, however, no time to prepare a fresh bill. The
most obvious forms of taxation had been attempted but had
failed. In these circumstances, it was resolved to fall back
on the Poll Tax Bill on account of its having already been
gazetted as required by law. The Treasurer (Mr., now Sir,
Thomas Hyslop, K.C.M.G.), having failed, owing to the
adverse action of a nominated upper chamber, to pass
measures that appeared to him suitable, it was decided the
Prime Minister should take charge of the bill. It succeeded
in passing through both Houses with comparatively Httle
discussion. In August, 1905, it became law. It would not
have become law but for the rejection of the other taxing
measures that had been passed by the representatives of the

There are, it has been held, but two forms of direct taxa-
tion appHcable to all sections of the community without
discriminating between classes, namely a poll tax and a
house tax. A house tax had been attempted, but, owing to
loud and miiversal protest by the European community, it
was not introduced.

Though difficult to justify a poll tax as an equitable mode
of taxation among civihzed people, it is not inappropriate
when apphed to Native races. If imposed on all sections of
the community, it would, if standing alone, be an imfair
tax ; accompanied, however, by an income tax, Avhich the
Government proposed to bring forward during the following
session, the unfairness would have ceased to exist.

There was strong feeling among many in the Colony that
Natives were not bearing a fair share of taxation. The
choice lay between increasing the hut tax payable by kraal-
OTv^iers, or leaving the tax on them as before and imposmg a
fresh one on the younger men. It is a matter of opinion
which was the better course to pursue, but, in any case, the
poU tax of £1 per head on the unmarried man, and the hut
tax of 14s. on the married man, cannot be regarded as
unduly burdensome, especially when compared with the
taxes imposed in the adjoining Colonies, Transvaal and
Orange Free State. In the former, £2 was payable yearly


by every adult male Native, and a further £2 by those having
more than one wife for each additional wife ; ^ in the latter,
a poll tax of £1 was payable by all Natives. In neither of
these cases, however, was there a hut tax as in Natal.

The poU tax was imposed on aU sections, Europeans,
Asiatics and Natives, but, in respect of the last, those already
hable for hut tax were specially excepted. It accordingly
feU on the young men, so many of whom, as we have seen,
went to work at Johannesburg and were becoming more and
more independent of their parents. Thus a class was taxed
which had, to a large extent, escaped taxation, though
generally .speaking, assisting their fathers in finding money
for hut tax and other purposes. Had the tax been imposed
on the Natives alone, the biU would have had to be reserved
for the King's approval. That would have meant delay ;
but the country could not afford to delay. Through
adopting the course above indicated, the royal assent was

Before considering the manner in which the new law was
received by the Natives, reference should be made to an
incident, normal in civiHzed communities, but quite ab-
nonnal in those of barbarians. The Government resolved to
take the census. Up to that time, no actual enumeration of
the Natives had ever been attempted. Estimates only had
been prepared from time to time, without any intimation of
such fact being given to the Natives. These had been
based primarily on the hut tax returns. The reason for not
requiring coloured races to conform to the same law as
Europeans in this respect was because of their suspicious
temperament. There is nothing a Zulu will take umbrage
at more quickly than when he, his family and belongings,
are being coimted. It appears to him tantamount to placing
himseh entirely in the hands of another, and of being " sui-
rounded." This instinctive dread is deeply rooted, and its
raison d'etre is seen in the mode of attack practised by him
in actual warfare, whereby a force moves forward, theo-
retically in half -moon formation, with the object of encircling
the enemy.

1 Ordinance 20, 1902, sec. 2 (Transvaal).


It is, of course, absurd to think that the Natal Government,
under which the Natives had hved peacefully for half a
century, could have had any inimical motive in taking a
census, but that the Natives felt some such motive was
latent, is borne out by what happened when the regulations
were explained by a Magistrate at a gathering of Chiefs and
their followers near Greytown. A Native present put the
question : " What guarantee have we that, in being enume-
rated in the fashion proposed, it is not in the mind of the
Government, making use of the information gained, to do us
an injury in the future ? " The reply was : " The Govern-
ment has no evil intentions whatever, the sun will sooner fall
from the heavens than any evil come upon you, as a result of
this census-taking. Europeans, including myself, will be
counted along with you." This assurance which, from a
European point of view, the official was fully justified in
giving, was, however, soon made to bear an interpretation
extremely difficult to reply to, and this in the very district
where the Insurrection proper afterwards began. The census
was taken in due course in 1904, meeting with murmuring
here and there among the Natives in parts of the Colony. In
the year following, the Poll Tax Act was passed and pro-
claimed. What was more natural than that they should
associate that time-honoured practice of Western Civiliza-
tion with the introduction of a form of taxation which,
in their view, did them injury by imposing an additional
financial burden, and, what was worse, accentuating and
even legahzing the independence of children towards their
fathers, an independence the sons themselves (free from
control as many of them had become), veering round in
their resentment, also condemned as subversive of their
whole system of life. From the parents' point of view, it
appeared as if their sons, alreadj^ too independent, were
being rendered still more so. And yet, in passing the Act,
the Government was of the beHef that one of the correctives
above referred to was being provided, and would operate in
favour of the parents. Had liabihty been laid on the father
rather than on the son, the protests raised would probably
not have been as loud as they were.


Early in the summer of the same year a cm"ious phenom-
enon was observed in connection with the Kaffir com or
mabele crops, particularly in those portions of the Colony
that abutted on Zululand. The ears of com were attacked
by the aphis insect in such way as to give an impression
of having been oiled. Whole fields ghttered in the sun.
Although the phenomenon was capable of complete expla-
nation by scientists, it appeared mysterious to European
la3rmen and stiU more so to Natives, who could recall nothing
of the kind in previous years. As a result of inabihty to
explain, the idea got about that Dinuzulu was the cause.
The phenomenon was, therefore, taken as a sign that that
Chief had something in mind which called for co-operation
on their part. This impression became current also among
a number of Natal tribes, notwithstanding that two genera-
tions had elapsed since the severance of their connection with
the Zulu royal house. The crops in question are universally
regarded by Natives as the most important, for it is of this
grain that the national beverage and food tshivala is made.
As the corn-fields were attacked over wide areas in a manner
at once mysterious and harmless, the characteristics accorded
well with the supposition that Dinuzulu was the cause, for
it was beheved he had potent drugs of which he alone,
assisted by various witch-doctors from afar, understood the
use. The disease, for such it was, was widely talked of, and
Dinuzulu was said to have brought it on for some inscrutable
purpose to be revealed or not in the near future as he might

Here again, we have an incident of no significance what-
ever among Europeans and yet regarded by numberless
Natives as a sign of something important to come. The
disease existed until after the Rebellion, when, strange to
say, it vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.

There was yet another phenomenon which attracted wide-
spread attention, and became invested by the Natives with
special significance, namely, a hailstorm of unusual severity
on the 31st May, 1905. It swept violently through the
whole Colony, including large areas adjacent thereto. Not
for more than a generation had there been anything so


furious and destructive. At first the incident seemed to
pass without any special comment, but towards the end of
the year, about September or October, and just before the
provisions of the Poll Tax Act were explained by the Magis-
trates, certaiQ strange rumours, directly connected with the
storm, began to make themselves heard. So curious were
these, that one could not help pricking up his ears to Hsten,
only, however, to laugh at their utter absurdity.

Owing to the fact that, ridiculous as they appeared to
Europeans to be, the rumours were beheved, and what is
more, began to be acted on, by Natives in many parts, it
is necessary to consider them seriously, and in so doing, it
is possible that some light may be thrown on the inner
workings of the black man's mind, and that some of the
mystery which still enshrouds the underlying causes of the
Rebellion may be removed.

The rumours were in the form of a fiat or command, and
associated with a personaHty whose name was never revealed.
Neither place nor time was given. AU that was known was
that the command existed, purported to have come from
some one in supreme authority, and peremptorily demanded
obedience. The following is the message, given as nearly as
possible in the form in which it circulated among the Natives :
" All pigs must be destroyed, as also all white fowls. Every
European utensil hitherto used for holding food or eating
out of must be discarded and thrown away. Anyone failing
to comply will have his kraal struck by a thunderbolt when,
at some date in the near future, he sends a storm more terrible
than the last, which was brought on by the Basuto king in his
wrath against the white race for having carried a railway to
the immediate vicinity of his ancestral stronghold.''

In some places, it was beheved white goats and wliite
cattle were also to be destroyed. Pigs, although kept by
many Natives to sell or barter to Europeans, were not eaten
by them. They had been introduced by the white race, and
were regarded by Natives as creatures whose flesh " smells."
The same prejudice did not exist in regard to fowls, for
whose presence in the country Europeans, for all the Natives
knew, were not responsible. To discrmiinate, therefore.


between white ones and others, as well as between utensils
of European manufacture and those of their own, could carry
but one meaning to any intelligent mind, and that was that
drastic aggressive measures of some kind against the white
race were intended. What these were to be every Native
knew quite well. He knew it was proposed to rise simul-
taneously and massacre the whites, although the time the
butchery was to take place had still to be fixed. The word
'' thunderbolt," too, bore metonymic interpretation. The
acts or characteristics of a Zulu monarch were frequently,
in ordinary parlance, compared with the fury of the ele-
ments. On the other hand, in accordance with naive and
deeply-rooted behef, the King, to whom the sky was said
to belong, was supposed to be able to cause the heavens to
pour down or withhold rain at his pleasure, though, to do
this, he might be obliged to invoke the assistance of Native
kings of other countries. It was, for instance, beheved
that gentle, copious rains could be induced by the Swazi
kings, whilst the kings of Basutoland possessed drugs for
bringing on violent thunderstorms, accompanied by light-
ning, wind and hail. Whenever any of these natural
phenomena was specially required in Zululand, — ordinary
rains, of course, were greatly in demand in times of
drought, — it devolved on the King to furnish the oxen,
as a rule about ten, necessary for presentation at the
foreign court, before the " lord of the elements " would
consent to exercise his skill. Hence, " thunderbolt," in
such context as the above, means either the King's own
army (which never went through a country but its devasta-
tions resembled those of a hurricane), or a storm brought
about through the King interceding with such other king as
could bring it on.

It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that, on hearing
the command noised abroad, Natal Chiefs should have at
once concluded it emanated from Dinuzulu who, though not
a King, was the recognised representative of the Zulu royal
house. Chiefs lil^e Mveli near Pietermaritzburg, Mtambo and
Ndunge near Durban, Tilonko and Sikukuku near Mid
lUovo, and Mtele and Nondubela of Umsinga, and others,


accordingly thought it right to dispatch messengers direct to
Dinuzulu to ascertain if such order had or had not originated
from him. Tilonko went further and asked Dinuzulu if he
was to pay the poll tax or not. Dinuzulu promptly denied
having issued any such " word." He added that if the
people wished to conform to the supposed order it was no
affair of his ; they could please themselves. This denial,
however, did not amount to much, for admission, assuming
him to have been the originator, would have been tantamount
to saying he was guilty of sedition. No assertion is here made
that it did emanate from him. The reader must be left to
draw his own inference. It is not a Httle remarkable that
the Chiefs named should have associated Dinuzulu with
the order and gone to the trouble of communicating with
him at a distance of 200 miles without reference to the
Government. That they should have done so is, perhaps,
accounted for by Dinuzulu's having posed as agent-in-
chief of the Zulu people. In connection with the locust
invasion, for instance, partly civiKzed though he was, he is
alleged to have sent ten oxen all the way to the notorious
witch Mabelemade in the Transvaal to implore her to
remove the plague. The plague afterwards vanished. If
Dinuzulu did act in this way, to whom are ignorant Natives
likely to have ascribed the relief they then got ? And to
whom would they look for deliverance on subsequent
occasions of general misfortune ?

Under the Zulu regime, no Idng would have dreamt of
issuing so vague and mysterious an order. Had he wished
anything to be done, he would have communicated his
instructions to his indunas, who would have transmitted
them by recognized messengers to the Chiefs, these to the
headmen who, in their turn, would have advised the heads
of families immediately under their respective supervision.
Everything would have taken place openly, speedily,
definitely. The precise meaning of the royal intentions
would have become known from the outset to every soul.
In 1905, however, something had to be done against, and
under the very eyes and nose of, a power to whom Dinuzulu
and all his former followers were, and had for long been,


subject. Hence the necessity for issue of an anonymous
type of order, and, as no Native of Natal or Zululand had
ever had experience of such message, it followed that com-
munication with Dinuzulu was necessary to ascertain if he
had issued it, and, if so, what his plans were.

In the district of Weenen, inhabited by two of the largest
tribes in Natal or Zululand, viz. those of Silwana and
Ngqambuzana,^ the Magistrate was successful in tracing the
rumours to a definite source. They had been disseminated
there by three Natives, who, under the role of messengers
from Dinuzulu, had also traversed Newcastle, Dundee and
Klip River divisions. They visited the kraals of Chiefs and
others along their route. " They led the Natives," says the
Magistrate, " to beheve that war would shortly be declared
by Dinuzulu, and those who failed to carry out his instruc-
tions as to the killing of pigs and destruction of utensils of
European manufacture, and a reversion in general to their
primitive mode of living, would be swept away by him.
Reference was also made to a Basuto woman who had risen
from the dead and was in communication with Dinuzulu.
They alleged that 500 emissaries of Dinuzulu were canvassing
South Africa." One of the ' messengers ' " alleged that he.
and nine others had been dispatched by the Paramomit
Chief of [Basutoland] to Dinuzulu, from whom they now
bore instructions which were similar in effect to those
circulated by the other two men." ^ The Magistrate was
unable to find that any of the three ' messengers ' had been
in communication with Dinuzulu. After trial and convic-
tion, they were severely punished for spreading the false

These rumours were circulated in Weenen division before
the Natives were officially notified of their obHgation to pay
the poll tax. In view of the mystery that still attaches to
this extraordinary incident, it may be of interest, as showing
the working of a Native's mind, to compare it with a some-
what similar one in Kaffraria, Cape Colony, which reached its

1 Silwana's tribe consisted of about 30,000, that of Ngqambuzana of
about 28,000, souls.
2Cd. 2905, p. 11.


cKmax in February, 1857. It will be remembered that many
thousands of cattle of those parts had recently been swept
away by disease ; that a Native fanatic, Mhlakaza, there-
after came forward and urged the people to destroy their
cattle, desist from cultivation, etc. ; and that, after com-
plying with the insane order, some 25,000 Natives are
estimated to have perished from starvation, whilst 100,000
went out of the Colony in search of food. An official state-
ment was made in April, 1858, by a prophetess, niece of this
man Mhlakaza (then deceased). This is so cleverly descrip-
tive of the stuff in which Native superstition has its roots,
and has such obvious affinity with the Zulu propaganda of
1905, that it is inserted hereunder in some detail. ^ An
article dealing, inter alia, with superstitions connected with
the Matabele Rebellion, 1896, will be found in Appendix X.

1 The niece, Nongqause by name, stated : " This talking of the new
people commenced after my having reported to Mhlakaza that I had
seen about ten strange Kafirs in the gardens. [The first meeting is said
to have occurred about 2| years before the date of giving the informa-
tion,] ... I told him I was afraid to go there. The people I saw were
Kafirs — young men. I was afraid of them, because I did not know them.
Mhlakaza told me not to be afraid of them, as they would do me no
harm. He told me to speak to them, and ask them what they were
doing there. I did so. They replied : ' We are people who have come
to order you to kill your cattle, to consume your corn, and not to
cultivate any more.' Mhlakaza asked them through me 'What are we
to eat when we kill our cattle, etc' They answered : ' We will find you
something to eat.' The people then said that was enough for that day
— they would return some other day. We asked who sent them ; they
answered : ' We have come of our own accord, as we wish everything
in the country to be made new.' They said they had come from a place
of refuge. I asked them where this place of refuge was. They said :
' You will not know if we even told you,' I always pressed them to tell
me where this place of refuge was, but they gave me the same answer.
The next day Mhlakaza killed one head of cattle. He then called a
meeting of the people and told them that strangers had come to tell
them to kill their cattle — to destroy their corn, and that great plenty
would be provided for them hereafter. The people dispersed, and from
that day they commenced killing their cattle, etc. ; and Mhlakaza
continued killing his cattle, one a day. The people killed more cattle
than they could use. . . ."

The same, as well as other, strange men — commonly believed by the
Natives to be spirits of the departed — came on other occasions and
conversed with Nongqause and Mhlakaza on the foregoing lines. Their
object was " to change the country " by " driving the English out "
and " making them run into the sea." Such intention was to be com-
municated to the Paramount Chief Kreli (Sarili) and other Chiefs, On
Mhlakaza reporting to Xito (Kreli's uncle), the latter directed him to
spread the news througliout the country. This was done. Kreli and
others had confidential meetings with Mhlakaza, the latter eventually
leavinsr his kraal to live on roots and shell-fish. Mhlakaza often blamed


It may be argued that the command to kill off pigs
and fowls arose in a way similar to that made pubHc by
Mhlakaza. But in that case the origin was traced to
strangers who communicated their messages to a particular
girl, who, in her turn, referred to Mhlakaza, a well-known
man. In the pig-and- white-fowl-killing affair, the order
seems to have originated with emissaries, careful not to
sow the seed in places from which its origin could be traced
by the white race. Only by employing secret agents, and
making a thorough investigation extending over six weeks,
could those who toured Weenen division be traced and
apprehended. It is the easiest thing in the world for a
stranger, especially if a Native, to utter an alarming
rumour to other Natives, — who are an extremely credulous
people, — and give out at, say, each of half-a-dozen places
that he had heard it in some manner which, in fact, is
entirely fictitious. For instance, in the year 1900, a
rumour was started in the Lower Tugela division that all
pigs were to be killed. An official meeting of Chiefs was
promptly called to investigate, but whilst the originator's
whereabouts could not be traced, the fact that attention
had been publicly directed to the rumour at once put a
stop to its further circulation.

There is no doubt but that the underlying intention of the
order to kill pigs and white fowls and discard European
utensils was that the Natives of Natal and Zululand should
rise against the white man. Its purpose was to warn, as
well as to miite, by the use of a threat. In the absence of
positive evidence, which may yet be forthcoming, it would
be wrong to draw any precise inference as to its origmation.
On the whole, it seems to us more likely to have sprung from
the imagination of some Native obsessed with the idea that
the conditions of life under European rule were intolerable,

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 10 of 52)