James Stuart.

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

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than from that of Dinuzulu.

the Paramount Chief as the sole cause of the wide-spread cattle-kilHng
that then went on. Nongqause, too, declared that Kreli had said " the
EngUsh were in his way," and that he looked to the strangers to assist
him in fighting and driving them out of the country. " I have been
at a loss," he added, " to know what to do with the English, as they
have been stronger than the Kafirs."


By this time, the temper of the people had undergone
a considerable change. A sullen demeanour was assumed
by them as soon as the poll tax was proclaimed. To use a
Zulu metaphor (without equivalent in English), and one
that exactly expresses the position, the new tax had caused
them to qunga.^ This sullenness is, indeed, characteristic
of the people under abnormal conditions. Until satisfied
that any action in regard to them is oppressive or betrays
neglect of their interests, they are, however, slow to take
offence. They prefer to wait and observe the effect on
others. If these, too, become morose, the tide of sullen-
ness rises to resentment, and then to anger and open
defiance. That the whole community was more or less
charged with this ugly spirit, will presently be seen from
the contemptuous manner in which Magistrates and other
officials were treated in various parts of the country.

It is curious to note in this connection an almost total
absence of belief among the Europeans (including those
with expert knowledge of the Natives), that actual re-
bellion was imminent.

But although sullenness is characteristic of the people, it
would be a libel to describe them as otherwise than ex-
ceedingly patient and long-suffering, equable and philo-
sophic. Once conquered, they become loyal and devoted
subjects, even of a race radically different from their own.
They are profoundly conservative — the conservatism of
ages — content with a simple life, simple pursuits and
pastimes. But once such ideal has been destroyed or
abandoned, they become restless, unstable and unhappy.

From what has been said, it can be seen that the direct
and indirect association of Dinuzulu with the incidents
immediately preceding the Insurrection was of the deepest
and most subtle character. The part actually played by
him during the rising, in some respects that of a kind of
Zulu Hamlet, will be gradually unfolded as the narrative
proceeds. A brief account of his antecedents has already

^ That is, to become filled with an angry, vengeful spirit. The
countenance of a person or animal that has qunga'd is abnormally
dark and forbidding. Clouds are said to have qunga'd when, — charged
with thunder, lightning and rain, — a violent storm is imminent.


been given. It is proposed now to consider the Idnd of life
led by him in Zululand after returning from St. Helena,
because an understanding thereof will enable the reader to
appreciate the position better than he might otherwise do.

Attention should, in the first place, be drawn to the fact
that during his stay at St. Helena (1889-1897), Dinuzulu was
subjected to influences that contributed in no small degree
to his subsequent undoing. The Governor of the island,
with no sense of the fitness of things, treated him just as
he might have done Napoleon. The result was that when
he returned to the land of his fathers, he was neither savage
nor civilized. He had been " spoilt."

With a " spoilt " young Zulu the Government of Natal
had to get on as well as it could. Without going into the
terms of his repatriation, wlu'ch will be dealt with later, it
may be pointed out that, after spending a few weeks at
Eshowe, he was allowed to return to his tribe near Nongoma,
where he erected his Usutu and other kraals.

As soon as he got away from the restraining influences of
civilization, he relapsed more or less into a state of bar-
barism. He became a " freethinker." He married more
wives than one, and kept more concubines than a dozen.
He cast aside the European clothes he had so long worn, not,
however, to don once more the picturesque garb of his youth,
but something which was neither one thing nor the other.
His morals became lax. He grew indolent. His Kfe, being
of an unsettled, invertebrate and isolated type, caused many
of his actions to appear ambiguous and mysterious. This,
in a man naturally cunning, was ascribed to duplicity. He
wallowed in such luxury as the £500 a year allowed by the
Government and what remained of his patrimony could
command at his semi-barbarous, semi-civilized Ivraal, and
sated himseK with inordinate quantities of European spirits.
He presently became so extraordinarily obese, that it was
Avith difficulty he could move about unassisted. The afflic-
tion of " expansion," to which members of the Zulu royal
house are notoriously fiable, came upon him at an age earher
than usual.

The sorry picture that has been drawn of a man, not


without estimable qualities, could not, we venture to think,
have existed had better judgment been exercised by the
authorities and his friends in St. Helena, and, to some extent,
those in Zululand as well. And yet, in St. Helena, counter
influences had not been wanting. Ndabuko, for instance,
strenuously resisted all endeavours for his o\vn so-called
" improvement " ; if Tshingana was less obdurate, he had
sufficient judgment and sagacity to prevent his benevolent
preceptors from carrying him too far.

This aspect of Dinuzulu's private hfe, well known to
many Europeans and thousands of Natives in Natal and
Zululand, has not been repeated for the sake of blackening
his character, but — by showing that his European friends
were primarily responsible for the debacle — to serve as a
warning, for it was out of conditions such as these that the
crime, of which he was later on convicted, came to be

It was in these ways, as well as in attending to the affairs
of his tribe, and meddling in other matters that did not
concern him, that Dinuzulu passed his time at Usutu
between 1898 and 1906.

In 1903-4 there were persistent rumours as to the possi-
biHty of Manzolwandhle taking the field against him on the
ground of his being an usurper. ^ A remark commonly made
by Zulus is : " The Zulu crown is won by force." Instances
of this are : Tshaka, who, though not the heir, wrested it
from Sigujana ; Dingana — by assassinating Tshaka ; Mpande
— by defeating Dingana in a pitched battle ; and Cetsh-
wayo — by defeating Mpande's heir, Mbuyazi, in 1856. Had
the crown been worth fightmg for in earher days, it is not
unhkely Manzolwandhle would have taken up arms against
his brother.

Actions of poHtical significance in Dinuzulu's Hfe, and
more or less connected with the Insurrection, wiU now be

Towards the end of the Boer War, a most regrettable and
at the same time highly significant incident occurred near

* And this rumour arose notwithstanding that both were subjects of
the British Government.


the town of Vryheid. During the early stages of the War,
there had been a tacit understanding between the contestants
that the Zululand-South African RepubHc border should not
be violated, seeing the Natives on both sides, who formed the
great bulk of the population in those regions, were taking no
part in the hostilities, the War being, as was explained to
them, a " white man's war." This spirit prevailed for a
considerable period, good order being maintained as in times
of peace. Later, when guerilla tactics were resorted to by
the repubhcan forces, orders were issued (without reference,
however, to the civil authorities of Natal and Zululand), for
the destruction or seizure of the enemy's property by way of
depriving him of all sources of supply. These instructions
drew to that part such commandoes as had been recruited
there, including General Botha himself, the men individually
desiring to protect their families as well as their homesteads
and stock from possible aggressive action by the Zulus. In
these circumstances, British troops not being sufficiently
near to afford assistance, authority was given Dinuzulu and
the Natives of Zululand generally to protect themselves and
their stock by force of arms should they, at any time, be
attacked by the Boers.

Some twenty miles from Vryheid, but much further from
Dinuzulu's kraal, there Hved a Zulu tribe, known as the
Baqulusi, under the Chief Sikobobo. The antecedents of
the tribe are not without interest. It was established
many years previously by a woman, a notable member
of the royal house. It became the rule for no war to be
waged by the nation, except with this Chieftainess's

So keenly did the Boers resent the manner in which, as
they averred, the Baqulusi were assisting the British, that
they began to harass them by burning their kraals.
Sikobobo, having taken refuge with his tribe at Vryheid,
resolved to retaliate. He ascertained that a party of some
70 Boers, known as Potgieter's commando, were bivouack-
ing on ground at the base of a mountain called Holkrantz
(Mtatshana), some 12 miles from the town. He marched
out one night with some 300 followers, surrounded the


party at dawn, and massacred all but about 16. The Boers,
it must be remarked, did not expect attack by Natives,'
who were regarded as neutral in a war between white races!
The Boer rifles were, of course, taken. Some at any rate
are said to have been carried off to Dinuzulu.

This affah- naturaUy created a profound impression on the
Native mmd (to say nothmg of that of the Boers), particu-
larly as, only m 1838 and 1879, had Zulus succeeded m
defeatmg a considerable number of Europeans. It remams
to add that, although the Baqulusi were formerly a Zulu
tribe, they were no longer a tribe of Zululand at the time of
this affair (they were Boer subjects and hving m Boer
territory), hence, Dmuzulu's aUeged acceptance of the guns
went to show he was deahng m matters lying beyond the
position and jurisdiction assigned him.

In the year 1904, Zibebu demanded of Dmuzulu the return
of certam cattle owed him by the latter's father. After
Cetshwayo's defeat in 1879, that Kmg's enormous estate,
consistmg of marriageable girls and cattle, was not dealt with
and disposed of. To a large portion of this Zibebu, second
cousm of Cetshwayo, claimed to be owner. Dmuzulu
opposed. The animosity formerly existmg between them
was revived, accompanied by rumours of possible further
bloodshed. About the same time, Dinuzulu built a fort on
top of a high hiU a mile or so from his kraal Usutu. The
fact of his having done this was freely talked about, as also
his keepmg regiments of young men at Usutu, notably one
known as his bodyguard and caUed " Nkomondala." These
he reqmred to undergo mihtary exercises. But what right
had a Chief to erect fortifications and tram warriors without
the authority of Government ?

There were, moreover, rumours among the Natives that
Dmuzulu had dispatched messengers to the Swazi Queen to
sohcit help agamst Zibebu. Others were that he contem-
plated fightmg his brother Manzolwandhle, and that messages
had accordingly been sent by him to Chiefs m the Northern
Districts,! also to others in the Transvaal. Further, he was

ihl^^! '^ *^t ""T® ^'""^"^ ,*° ^""^ """^ ^'^ magisterial districts taken from
the Transvaal and annexed to Natal subsequently to the Boer War



reputed to be in communication with the Basutos of Basuto-
land and the Natives of Rhodesia.

Some of these rumours and many others, circulating at
that time and up to the outbreak of rebeUion, were either
untrue or exaggerated; their mere existence, however,
shows the great importance that attached to Dinuzulu in
the estimation of Natives far and wide. Here is another
sample, taken from a despatch by the Governor to the
Secretary of State : i " For some Httle time past, rumours
have been current of unrest and disaffection amongst the
Natives. ... The name of Dinuzulu has been freely mentioned
as promotmg the unrest, and as putting himself at the head
of a Native army to invade Natal proper from Zululand."

To show the strangeness and absurdity of some of the
rumours, the foUowing, which (except the last) can be
vouched for as widely current in 1906, may be cited : that
Dinuzulu was m the habit of visiting Natal incognito, not-
withstanding that his physical condition incapacitated him
from traveUing ; that he once visited Pietermaritzburg and
went to the top of the Town HaU tower, when he was
observed at one moment to turn into a cow, at another into
a dog ; that, when in Pietermaritzburg, he was presented
with a beast by the Government. This was taken to the
market square, where some white man fired at it twice
without effect, owing to Dinuzulu having charmed it. On
Dinuzulu firing, however, it feU dead. Here we have one of
the origins of the rumour, subsequently to be referred to,
that buUets fired at Natives by Europeans would not
' enter ' ; that, on the conclusion of the Boer War, the
Europeans intended to compel Native girls to marry the
soldiers then still in the country, whilst unmarried Native
youths would be compelled to serve in the British Army.
In consequence of the foregoing, many girls, though still
quite young, had their hair done up and were married off
before attaining the customary age.

The content of mere rumour is, of course, of no value as
history, but, m the history of a Native rising, that rumours of
a disturbing or unsettHng character were constantly afloat,

1 5th January, 1906. Cd. 2905, p. 1.


and nearly always associated with a particular person, is a
fact of considerable significance, and, therefore, worthy of
record. When any rumour arose hkely to agitate Euro-
peans or Natives, it became the duty of the Government
to trace and contradict it in the best way it could. This,
indeed, was done as effectively as possible on several

Those who are not famihar with Native character cannot
weU appreciate the diificulty of deahng with these rumours
especiaUy such as betoken hostihty. There is almost always
some foundation m fact, but the fact is generaUy insignifi-
cant as compared with the inferences drawn therefrom by
the people at large. In many cases, Dmuzulu was nothuig
more than the victim of circumstances, the mere fact of
bemg the eldest son of the king of a once famous Native
state servmg to attach to the least of his acts an importance
that did not and possibly was not intended to belong to
them. Much that was laid to his charge was the outcome of
perfervid imagination on the part of tribes in various parts
of South Africa ready to espouse his cause. It has also to
be borne in mind that the great majority of Natives are
unable to read or write; they, therefore, do not, like
Europeans, depend on newspapers for their news. It has,
from time immemorial, been customary for them to five in a
state of chronic alertness, when even the most absurd rumour
of a warhke or disturbing character was spread withm
twenty-four hours over an enormous area. The media
whereby this news, or rather warning is spread, are the m-
cessant travelhng to and fro of men and women, who again,
hvmg as they do under a system of polygamy, have wide
circles of relations and acquamtances. Thus a warnmg
brought, say, twenty miles and communicated at a kraal, is
swiftly transmitted by the receiver to those within his
unmediate neighbourhood, only to be borne still further and
further by others, leaving the origmal messenger to pursue
his journey, repeatmg the intelhgence as before wherever he
goes. It can, therefore, be seen that facts, before long,
become greatly exaggerated, leading to extravagant infer-
ences bemg drawn therefrom.


Natives, as a rule, when employed as messengers, are
careful in conveying messages. Dinuzulu probably never
employed anyone on an important occasion who was not
discreet and thoroughly trained in such duty. Rumours,
therefore, are not always a true version of what was originally
said, but of what those at a kraal, men or women, believed
was said.

It is, we say, right to set but small value on mere rumours,
but having regard to their exceedingly widespread circula-
tion, they are apt to be beheved and acted upon, as was, for
instance, the pig-and-white-f owl-killing one. This charac-
teristic of the great majority of the people should be clearly
grasped, and especially the anomalous position in which, at
such a time and in such circumstances, a man like Dinuzulu
would have found himself. Having regard, however, to his
remarkably subtle and far-reaching influence, it can easily
be seen how any actually seditious tendency on his part
could have been exerted with the minimum risk of
detection. Indeed, it is within the power of one like him
to puU the strings so as to compass rebellion without
the Attorney-General being able at a later date to obtain
any tangible evidence which, in a court of law, would
be regarded as admissible or, if admissible, as satisfac-
torily estabhshing guilt. Thus, though, on the one hand,
Dinuzulu might have been the victim of circumstances,
on the other, assuming him to have been reaUy at fault,
he could have so urged the circumstances in which he
stood that the court could not have done otherwise than
presume his innocence, although actually beheving him to
be guilty.

That he was responsible for some of the unrest associated
with his name before the Rebellion, will be gathered from
the translations hereunder of two somewhat remarkable
songs sung at Usutu.^

Who is going to die among the Whites ?

Stand firm, O King !
Heed not their mutterings,

They are but finding fault.

[Note. — The meaning probably is that Dinuzulu is the last person


When the " order " about killing off pigs, white fowls,
white goats, etc., became widely current and was being com-
pKed with by the Natives in various parts, the Government
found it necessary to issue the following instructions to
Magistrates : "It has come to the knowledge of the Govern-
ment that numerous disturbing reports concerning the
loyalty of the Natives of the Colony are being spread abroad
by irresponsible persons, both Europeans and Natives.
These reports are most mischievous, causing unnecessary
alarm among all classes of the community, and careful
investigation has proved that no real ground for them exists.
You are, therefore, requested to reassure the people of your
district and to urge them to discoimtenance the spreading of
all such reports." ^ In the same month, the Commissioner
in Zululand assured the Government of Dinuzulu's unwaver-
ing loyalty, adding that the Chief had declared an intention

that will die among Europeans, as his own people are determined to
prevent his being taken.]


Great must be this people,

Who carry loads of goods around,

To barter salempore for cattle here and there.

About It a song, methinks, I'll sing.

It will o'erspread th' entire land.

A long thin frame It has, bending to and fro.

Starting from earth. It makes towards the sky.

Like that huge snake which ate the white men's sheep ;

They set a trap for it and caught it.

Pulled at it two, and three, days long ;

Cut it through with knives, when lo ! a flame

Leapt from out its pool and scorched them.

Clouds of dust straightway broke forth,

And streamed throughout the land,

Which thereupon was set ablaze !

And here at Mbilane, too.

From whence (as every pool, 'twas said, was full thereof)

They thought it must spring forth.

[Note. — Like the foregoing, this song is in the form of an enigma. The
word " It " evidently refers to an impi, which, when on the march, very
much resembles a snake. The object of the song was, no doubt, to
promote a spirit of defiance against Europeans. It is possible the word
" snake " in line 8 is used metaphorically. Mbilane refers to a pool
near Nodwengu, Mpande's principal kraal on the White Umfolozi.
Mpande was Dinuzulu's grandfather. That such a song should have
been sung at Usutu is clear evidence of the atmosphere of disloyalty that
prevailed there.]

The Zulu version of the above translations appears in Appendix IX.

^ Principal Under-Secretary to Magistrates, 28th Dec. 1905. Cd.
2905, p. 2.


of doing all he could to ensure pajmient of the poll tax.^
Dinuzulu, indeed, was one of the first to pay the tax, he
paid before being actually obhged to do so.

In August the Minister for Native Affairs issued instruc-
tions to Magistrates to convene meetings of Chiefs and the
principal men of their tribes, and to explain thereat such
provisions of the Poll Tax Act as applied to Natives. These
meetings were nearly aU held in September and October.
Whilst, at some, no more took place than expressions of
regret at its having been found necessary to impose addi-
tional taxation, of which Natives had not been advised
beforehand,^ at others there was loud remonstrance, accom-
panied wdth disrespect to the Magistrates. The meetings at
Durban and Pietermaritzburg, owing to not having been
authorized till late in October, for the reason that there were
practically no Chiefs there, were not held until the 4th and
28th November respectively. By that time, however, dis-
satisfaction in regard to the Act had been freely expressed
in different parts of the Colony.^ The convening of these
further meetings, however, appeared necessary although
no Chiefs could be present, seeing the law provided that
payment could be made at any labour centre.^

1 Cd. 2905, p. 2.

2 On the occasion of the hut tax being raised from 7s. to 14s., Sir
Theophilus Shepstone officially informed the people of the Government's
intentions, and discussed with them the necessity for taking the step.

3 The following is a case that occurred at Dxu'ban in September, 1905,
though unknown to the Chief Magistrate when convening his meeting
of 4th November : " Mditshwa and other Natives held meetings " at
which the poll tax and other matters were discussed, and inflammatory
and seditious speeches were uttered. . . . The result of the delibera-
tions was a resolution to write to their Chiefs on the subject. A letter
was produced in Court [Native High Coiu-t], written by Mditshwa to
his Chief. . . , The following are extracts therefrom. " They refuse
to submit to this money on any account, and they say that you should
advise one another throughout the whole country. To-day you are
given manliness, and it will be proved which man is persevering. . . .
Day after day we find fault with your fathers, and say that they submit
to every law. To-day the matter is upon yotu'selves. We, in Durban,
say let the white people do what they will. I have two ideas : an irresis-
tible army or hooligans, it is they who trod on a white man on the day
we were gathered together to be told this law," (referring evidently
to one of the other already held magisterial meetings). Decisions,
Native High Court, Natal, March, 1906-January, 1907, p. 34.

* The hut tax, on the other hand, was payable only to the Magistrate
of the district in which it became due.


It is easy to be wise after the event. Probably the
better course would have been to hold no meetings at all
at Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and to have taken
other steps to inform Natives working in those towns
of the law's requirements.

On the 22nd November the Magistrates were instructed
to inform the Natives that the collection of the poll tax
would take place on the 20th January, 1906, or as soon
thereafter as possible. The date and order in which the
tribes were to attend were, however, left to the Magistrates'
discretion. A further circular (26th January), in call-
ing attention to a proviso in the law that " no Native
shall be deemed to have been guilty of a contravention of
the Act until after the 31st day of May in any year," went
on to direct that there was " no need for Natives who are
not now prepared to pay the tax to visit the magistracy,
branch courts or centres ; only those desirous of paying
the tax . . . should be allowed to do so," also that where
notices had already been issued calKng on Chiefs to bring
up their men, such were not to be countermanded, but
" the Chiefs or representative headmen alone should be
interviewed by the Magistrate and the result of the inter-
view conveyed to the men by the Chiefs or such headmen."

Thus every precaution was taken by the Government
to conform to the requirements and spirit of the Act.

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 11 of 52)