James Stuart.

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

. (page 19 of 52)
Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 19 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

first two came to the fire, they trod hghtly in it, the man
on the left with his right foot, and the one on the right
with his left. In so doing, they passed through the smoke.
Without halting, they passed slowly by the doctors, when
they were simultaneously sprinkled by one of these by
means of two black smaU brushes, apparently gnu-tails
(one in each hand), previously dipped in a huge earthen-
ware pot containing some caustic decoction. The men
were told that they should not, after the sprinkHng, rub
their bodies with fat, as usual with Zulus, nor should they
wash. Moving on, the leading couple came to the second
doctor, who Hfted to the mouth of each a ladle containing
a different hquid, drawn from a pot on the ground at his
side. Each warrior was instructed to take a mouthful,
not to swaUow, but to keep in his mouth until further
directed. Similar procedure was followed in regard to
every couple, until the whole impi had been dealt with.
After marching past, the men formed up in one large
irregularly-shaped body, some hundred or so yards further
on. What is known as an umkumhi or circle was now
ordered to be formed,^ when Sigananda, accompanied by
Mangati and one or two of his leading councillors, entered
the ring. Bambata stood apart in front of, but close to,
his own men, who also formed part of the enclosure.
Everyone remained standing, including the ninety-six-
year-old Chief. The last-mentioned addressed the gather-
ing in these terms : " The drugs which have just been
used on and about you all have the power of preventing
bullets fired by Europeans from entering your bodies or
doing injury of any kind. But there will be immunity
only on certain conditions, which are that you abstain
from womenfolk, and that you He down to sleep, not on
mats, but on the bare ground. Anyone who ignores these
directions will render himself Hable to injury or to be
killed. From to-day, I have resolved to take up arms
against the white man ! The pass- word and countersign
to be used when you happen to meet and interrogate

1 That is, the men drew up in this formation.


others, especially at night, is ' Wen' u tini V ( = You,
what do you say ?) ; the one addressed must then reply,
' Insumansumane / ' " ( = It's all tomfoolery !) After
Sigananda had spoken, a Christian teacher named Paula
endorsed what the Chief had said, laying stress on the
efficacy of the drugs. " I have left my wife behind," he
added, " also a waggon and oxen in Mpanza valley. Why
did I come away ? Because I had made up my mind to
fight. The Government is casting aside its right of
sovereignty and giving the same over to us. Here (point-
ing at them) are my tribesmen ! These men will never turn
back now, but will go resolutely forward. Once angered,
they are implacable and continue long in their wrath."

A man, Mmangwana, one of those who had just come
from the Commissioner, next mumbled, with the hquid he
had sipped still in his mouth: "I cannot accept the assertion
that anyone, on being struck by a bullet, will not be hurt
or that a bullet will not enter. I never heard of such a
thing. Is, then, a man's flesh made of iron ? Did not a
certain outlaw ^ not long ago find his way into the Umtetwa
tribe and there bring about the ruin of a whole country-
side ? Did he not declare that, if the Europeans came to
attack him, they would be stung by bees and wasps, and
be bitten by snakes ? And when they (Europeans) did
come, were not many innocent people destroyed by the
white people, whilst this fellow escaped scot free ? "

The keeper of Cetshwayo's grave here remarked, also
speaking with great difficulty, his mouth half -full of the
tahsmanic draught, " How comes it, in these days, that
when the King ^ sees fit to direct anything to be done, a
lot of people come forward with all sorts of observations
and criticisms ? Who ever heard of presumption of this
sort in former times ? "

On the ring now breaking up, the whole party was led
by Mangati to the top of the nearest mountain-top

1 The speaker referred to Sitimela, a notorious upstart, whose exainple
had been quoted by Mr. Saunders, and of which fact Mmangwana had just
told Sigananda privately as above related.

- A hyperbole. The reference is to Dinuzulu.


(Ndundumeni). Here they were told to cinsa, i.e. vigor-
ously and defiantly spirt the charmed water from their
mouths towards the objects of their wrath, shouting as
they did so, Iwa Kingi ! Iwa Mgungundhlovu ! Iwa
Mashiqela ! (May the King fall ! ^ Fall, Pietermaritz-
burg ! Fall, Saunders !) Everyone having uttered these
imprecations, came down the hill and, the mist coming on,
the gathering dispersed, with orders to meet on the follow-
ing morning in the neighbourhood of the grave.^

When the rebels met as arranged, accompanied by Bam-
bata, they erected other amadhlangala or temporary
shelters of wattles and branches. Later the same day,
probably the 16th, a body now between 700 and 1,000
strong, with Bambata and Mangati in command, marched
up the ridge at the rear of Enhlweni towards Nomangci,
with the intention of attacking the magistracy, or any of
the small patrols that were then being sent out daily.
Sigananda, hearing of this, ordered Bambata to desist
until the messengers sent by him to Dinuzulu a couple of
days before (to obtain confirmation of Cakij ana's com-
munication to Mangati regarding Dinuzulu's alleged
wishes) had been received. Bambata returned to the
grave, where he continued to camp undisturbed for at
least a fortnight.

The decision of Sigananda to rebel is surprising when one
considers that his district is one of the healthiest and most
fertile in Zululand. In many respects it is an ideal place
to five in, especially for Natives. Far from the larger
European centres, it has an abundance of firewood,
wattles, etc., and is, moreover, pecuharly favourable for
raising stock. All these advantages became of no account
as soon as the blighting word arrived from the royal house
that Bambata was to be befriended. Dinuzulu's pleasure
first, everything else nowhere. That was the sole cause of
this remarkable defection. It can be explained in no
other way. Where is the witchery that can be compared
with this ?

^ That is, the King of Great Britain and Ireland.
2 Cetshwayo's grave.


Between the 15th and 23rd, Sigananda sent messages to
many neighbouring loyally-disposed Chiefs, urging them
to rebel. Although a number of malcontents threw in
their lot with the rebels, including members of the tribe
of Siteku (Dinuzulu's uncle) and Chief Gayede (of Natal),
the majority of the people remained loyal or neutral.
Several, as far off as Mahlabatini, went further and offered
their services to the Government against Bambata and

Two or three stores, close to the forests, were looted
during this period (that at Sibudeni, as early as the 16th),
besides cattle belonging to loyalists.

The two messengers that had been sent to Dinuzulu got
back on the evening of the 23rd. Unfortunately, there was
a difference between them as to the purport of ' the
Prince's ' message. One man, the senior, said Dinuzulu
had denied all knowledge of Bambata's doings, and had
remarked : " they have already begun fighting ; let them
do just what they want, it is no affair of mine. I do not
want to be mixed up in the business." The other man,
agreeing whilst in Sigananda's presence, afterwards went
among the rebels and encouraged them by declaring that
Dinuzulu's real wish was that they should fight the white
man. The construction put on the communication by the
latter messenger was that which, readily finding favour,
was accepted. These men, moreover, had heard of the
Government having arranged with Dinuzulu on the 17th
to allow Mankulumana to go and act as " peace-maker,"
a matter that will be noticed later. The second messenger
interpreted Mankulumana's mission into his having been
" bought by the Europeans " ; his coming, therefore, was
simply to try and hoodwink Bambata.

Mankulumana arrived at Empandhleni on the 23rd, and
after interviewing the Commissioner for Native Affairs,
proceeded, on the following morning, to see Sigananda.



Some account is now necessary of the locality within
which the rebel bands took refuge, shortly to become the
focus of more than a month's operations by some 2,000
European troops and a like number of Native levies.

The name Nkandhla is probably derived from the verb
kandhla, meaning " to tire, exhaust, or prostrate," and is
apphed collectively to the various great and more or less
connected forests that clothe the mountains, spurs and
valleys of that part. The area in question, as will be seen
from the map, is about eleven miles long by five broad.
Separate names are given to about ten of the forests,
among them : Dukuza, {wander about), Elendhlovu (the
elephant one), Ehbomvana (the little red one), and Kwa
Vuza (the dripping one). The slopes of the mountains are
remarkable for their steepness, especially when approached
from the low ground in the vicinity of Cetshwayo's grave.
The altitude of the slopes, of course, varies, but the steep-
ness is practically uniform, whether the height be 2,000,
3,000, or 3,500 feet. The bed of the Insuze River, from
the Tate to the Halambu, would average about 1,100 feet
— where the Mome enters the Insuze, it is 1,122. In many
parts, the peaks and ridges rise to a height of 1,500 to
2,000 feet from the nearest stream bed, and within a
distance of less than a mile, measured from the foot of
the perpendicular.


Three streams flow through the forests into the Insuze,
viz. : Mome, Nkunzana, and Halambu, and, of these, the
Nkunzana traverses the heart or densest part of the forests.

The principal forest, as well as the deepest and darkest,
is Dukuza, no doubt deriving its name from the fact that
one is hable to lose his way therein and go wandering
about unless acquainted with the secret that, to find his
way, he must climb the nearest ridge to see in what
direction to make.^ The trees are not, as a rule, higher
than sixty feet, though, near the bottom of some of the
gorges, they rise to seventy and eighty. Generally speak-
ing, there is but little undergrowth, and the trees stand
rather wide apart. Here and there a precipice or donga is
met Avith.

Notwithstanding the sharp ascent so characteristic of
Nkandhla ridges and spurs, comparatively few stones or
boulders are to be found. The ground is covered with
damp, decaying substances, such as leaves and branches ;
here and there, especially along the beds of streams, are
to be seen moss-covered, sHppery rocks, ferns and monkey-
ropes, all tending to give an impression of the immense
antiquity and majesty of the forest. Beautiful glades,
varying in size and shape, are suddenly come upon in
parts, with all the freshness and evenness of some low-
land meadow. A look-out must be kept for snakes, such
as rocky cobras, mamhas and puff-adders. Leopards are
also to be found. Of birds, lories, red-necked partridges
and eagles will frequently be seen. And superstitious
people will be interested to Imow that ghosts have, for
generations, haunted and are said still to haunt the dense,
precipitous forest Eziwojeni, immediately below Siga-
nanda's kraal " Enhlweni."

Above and at the rear of the Mome waterfall (which has
a drop of fifty feet) is a natural stronghold, the one used
by Cetshwayo in 1883. Owing, however, to a feehng of
insecurity, especially on account of the presence of
artillery, the rebels did not use it in 1906, they preferred

1 It was probably after this forest that Tshaka named his great kraal
Dukuza, whose site was exactly where the town of Stanger now stands.


to take refuge in the Mome gorge and the adjoining forest-
covered valleys. A favourite, though unhealthy hiding-
place, is in the vicinity of Manzipambana (a tributary of
the Nkunzana), which never issues into open dayHght.
The pecuHar vagaries of its course, which, in parts, seems
to proceed one way and then in exactly opposite direction,
are ascribed to perverse and occult powers emanating
from the still and sombre forest depths.

The Mome gorge, to be often referred to later, takes its
name from a stream that flows through it. It is about
one and a half miles long, with great mountain walls on
either side. At the head of the valley is the waterfall
already referred to. Near the fall, the ground rises on either
side to an altitude of over 3,000 feet, but at the mouth of
the valley drops away with remarkable suddenness.
Within a radius of 200 to 300 yards of the fall, the earth
is covered with a dense forest which, extending outwards
on either side, connects with the various other forests
referred to above, especially on the east. A couple of
isolated forests are to be seen within the valley, particu-
larly the Dobo or ' pear-shaped ' one on the west near the
mouth. So steep are the sides of the gorge, Hke the letter
V, that the sun in the morning and afternoon is shut out
to such an extent that the day appears to be considerably
shorter than it is.

Altogether the Nkandhla, with the Mome gorge as
practically the key of the position, could hardly be sur-
passed as a place of refuge. Nor could the beauty and
attractiveness of the district as a whole be easily excelled.
There is a cleanness and definition as well as natural
grandeur about Nature's handiwork hereabout that im-
mediately appeal to the imagination. The purity and
coolness of the air are exhilarating, so much so that one
becomes oblivious to the cares of life as he wanders about
the woodlands, toils up the sharp ascents, or bends over
one of the many brooks to regale himself with some of the
clearest crystal water to be found on the face of the
globe. The Nkandhla should never become a field of war,
and anyone who visits it will realize the pettiness of man's


strife which, for a moment, disturbs its awe-inspiring still-
ness, and gentle, peaceful slumber.

The history of the tribe that Kved about these forests,
and especially its relationship to the royal house of Zulu-
land, are naturalty matters of greater interest. Called by
some amaCube, by others amaNcube, the tribe is a Lala
one,^ closely related to that of Butelezi, to which Mnya-
mana, son of Ngqengelele, belonged. Mnyamana was
Cetshwayo's prime minister, whilst Ngqengelele was the
great Tshaka's guardian, adviser and friend. Mnyamana,
subsequently to the Zulu War, became unequivocably
loyal to the British Government, and, on more than one
occasion, pubhcly dissociated himself from the acts of
Cetshwayo, as well as of his successor Dinuzulu. This
detachment was maintained during the RebelKon by his
son Tshanibezwe, a fact which had no small influence in
restraining and even checkmating Dinuzulu. The history
of these sister tribes during the last thirty years is remark-
able in that, whilst the Butelezi was unquestionably loyal
to the Imperial Government, the amaCube was persistently
sullen and disloyal. In other words, Butelezi threw in
its lot once and for all with its acknowledged con-
querors, in opposition to the rebelhous tactics followed by
Cetshwayo and Dinuzulu, whilst the amaCube declared as
resolutely in favour of the royal house, though embarked
on a mad career after palpably impossible goals.

The year in which Sigananda's ancestors first came to
settle in the neighbourhood of the forests is wrapped in
obscurity. Natives have no good means of fixing time,
especially in regard to events more than a century old.
One of the best methods, indeed about the only one, is to
ascertain the Chief's genealogical tree, the whereabouts of
former Chief's graves, etc., and, from these and related

1 The Natives of Zululand and Natal may be divided into tln-ee great
ethnic groups : amaLala, aheNguni and amaNtungwa. Of these, the
amaLala or Lalas were probably the earliest settlers, followed by the
aheNguni, and then the amaNtungwa. The last two have been in
the country for at least 350 years. The amaLala are now to be found
chiefly in Natal proper.


facts, draw such inferences as appear reasonable. In the
case of Sigananda, the known positions at Nkandhla of
the graves of six of his ancestors, enable us to conclude
with tolerable certainty that the first Chief died about
250 years ago.

Tradition seems to carry the arrival of the people still
further back. It is safe to say it is one of the oldest tribes
in Zululand and was already long in situ when the migra-
tion of the great Xosa family to Cape Colony took place
in the seventeenth century.

Although Tshaka attacked and defeated many tribes,
he was unable to conquer that over which Mvakela,
grandfather of Sigananda, presided. Later, however, he
succeeded in putting Mvakela to death. This man took
refuge in the Manzipambana section of the forests. It
proved so detrimental to his health that he was obhged to
leave and expose himself, thus affording the enemy an
opportunity of which advantage was swiftly taken.

It so happened that Mvakela had married a sister of
Nandi, Tshaka' s mother. Mvakela' s son, Zokufa (father
of Sigananda), was thus Tshaka's first cousin. This
connection with the royal house of Zululand plays a most
important part in regard to the Rebellion. It shows the
character of the blood relationship between Dinuzulu and

Zokufa was allowed to become Chief. The tribe con-
tinued, as in former ages, to practise the art of iron-
smelting, and the manufacture of hoes, axes, knives and
assegais of every shape and size. Owing to special apti-
tude in these respects, the people were largely patronized
by the King who, from time to time, called for suppHes
of the articles manufactured. The national army depended
to no small extent on the assegais made by the tribe, which
came to fill much the same kind of place in the body
pohtic that Woolwich arsenal does in England. Large
quantities of the domestic articles referred to were, more-
over, bartered to the general public far and near. When
the white man arrived in 1824^ and, in the years that
followed, introduced hoes, axes and knives, the demand


for more serviceable wares soon caused this once famous
handicraft to die out. But, although the Zulus were
content to use European hoes (which were lighter and
cheaper), and axes and knives (which were harder and
sharper), they never lost faith in their own smiths for the
making of assegais and other implements of war. To this
day the assegai forged in Birmingham has been unable to
supersede that of the ordinary Native blacksmith who, in
these days, is not above using European pig-iron, instead
of smelting his own with those quaint old bellows of
his from the ironstone so frequently to be met with.
Sigananda himself was an excellent smith, his reputation
for barbed, large stabbing, as well as throwing, assegais
being by no means confined to members of his own tribe.

In Cetshwayo's day, we find Zokufa holding the position
of induna at that Prince's Mlambongwenya kraal. It was
there that the famous Usutu party was first created by
Cetshwayo. The Usutu became his personal adherents in
opposition to the Izigqoza of the rival claimant to the
throne, Mbuyazi. The party was made up of men from
many tribes, and not recruited merely from the Zulu one,
of which its leader was a member. Zokufa, and after him
Sigananda, together with the amaCube tribe, belonged to
the Usutu faction. Sigananda accordingly fought on the
Usutu side during the great Ndondakusuka (Tugela)
battle on the 2nd December, 1856.

Shortly after, owing to disturbances in the tribe,
Sigananda fled to Natal. He took refuge in the tribe of
Mancinza, father of Bambata. He became a policeman at
the Magistrate's office, Greytown, but, about 1871, was
invited by Cetshwayo to live in Zululand, when, after
fourteen or fifteen years' absence, he became Chief over
the tribe.

During the Zulu War, Sigananda naturally fought for
his King. Cetshwayo's restoration to Zululand occurred
in January, 1883, and, as has been seen, was the signal for
violent conflict between his and Zibebu's forces. Cetsh-
wayo was obhged to find a place of refuge. He fled to the
Nkandhla forests, where he was harboured in one of the


amaCube kraals immediately overlooking the Mome water-
fall. A small kraal, known by the name of Enhlweni, was
constructed for the ex-King's use on the eastern side of
the waterfall, and only three hundred yards from it,
whilst a covered path was specially made through the
forest that stood between the two kraals. The Govern-
ment succeeded, through the influence of Mr. Henry F.
Fynn (son of the earliest pioneer of Natal), in inducing
Cetshwayo to leave his place of hiding and reside at
Eshowe, and there he died in 1884.

Owing to the unsettled state of the country, it was
decided by the heads of the nation that Cetshwayo should
not be buried on the banks of the White Umfolozi, where
it had for generations been the practice to inter the kings.
The district in the occupation of the amaCube was the one
selected, whereupon he was conveyed there in an ox-
waggon and ' planted,' ^ near the Nkunzana stream, on a
small exposed ridge about three miles to the east of Mome
gorge. A relative of Sigananda was appointed keeper of
the grave, a post of much responsibihty and honour.
One of his kraals was erected on a knoll some 500 yards
from his charge. ^

In the battle of Kotongweni in 1884 between the
Usutus, on the one side, and the Government forces,
Basutos and other Natives loyal to the Government, on
the other, Sigananda threw in his lot with the former.
Finally, in 1888, when Dinuzulu once more Avaged war
against Zibebu, Sigananda was called on by the Govern-
ment to furnish a levy. He refused, subsequently reviling

^ A Zulu idiom signifying burial.

2 Undisturbed in any way, as required by custom, the grave was
found by the troops in 1906, to be overgrown with grass and weeds.
There was around it a grove, some 200 yards in length and oval in
shape. Immediately round the grove was a rough fence of Kaffir-boom
trees. None of the trees in the plantation were more than 25 feet high.
Owing to the grass not having been biunt or cut, it was naturally
infested with snakes, among which, it was believed, was that {i.e. spirit)
of the departed monarch. As, year by year, the grass in the vicinity
was burnt, it devolved on the care-taker to make a 10-foot fire-
break round the grove bj^ digging away the grass. The grave con-
sisted of a mound, 12 feet long by 10 feet broad and 15 inches high.
On top of it lay one or two broken kambas (clay pots without handles),
and parts of the original ox-waggon.


a few more loyally disposed members of his tribe for break-
ing away and assisting the authorities.

Such, in brief, was the history of the man and tribe
with which the Colony had now to deal. In 1905, the
tribe was wholly within the Nkandhla magisterial district ;
it consisted of 462 kraals, with an approximate total
population of 4,300, or about 700 men capable of bearing

Another factor in the situation was the Chief's great
age. There has been some uncertainty in regard to the
point, some maintaining he was as much as 105, but, when
it is borne in mind that he was a member of the Imkulu-
tshane regiment, the cadets of which were recruited about
1830, and that these were about seventeen or eighteen
years old when recruited, his age could not have been more
than ninety-five at the time of the RebelKon, if quite so

It has already been shown that the Magistrate and the
Commissioner at Empandhleni placed themselves in im-
mediate communication with Sigananda, who, however,
hypnotized by the prospect of co-operating with his old
King's son, deliberately ignored all the orders received
by him.

When the Commissioner became convinced (as he did
on 16th April) that Sigananda had thrown in his lot with
Bambata and was in open rebelhon, in conjunction with
sections of adjoining tribes, he represented the situation
as very serious, and urged the immediate concentration
within Natal of a large Imperial force, partly to com-
pensate for the imminent withdrawal of local troops to
cope with the Rebelhon in Zululand, and partly to

Online LibraryJames StuartA history of the Zulu Rebellion, 1906 : and of Dinuzulu's arrest, trial, and expatriation → online text (page 19 of 52)