Josiah Tyler.

Forty years among the Zulus online

. (page 13 of 17)
Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 13 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

own affairs, and I will take care of mine."

In the ultimatum sent to him by the Natal
authorities, at the advice of Sir Bartle Frere,
previous to the commencement of hostilities, he
was called upon to make suitable reparation for
raids made by his people into the Natal terri-
tory ; also, to disband his army, as well as to
conform to the requirements previously imposed.
He was also told that a British agent must be
allowed to reside in his country ; that every
man when he comes to man's estate should be
free to marry ; that missionaries and their con-
verts, who had left the country through fear,
must be allowed to return and reoccupy their
stations, etc. Setting at naught the advice of old
missionaries, for whom his father had cherished
respect, he listened to the proud boastings of
his youthful warriors, who said, " We are not
afraid of those few insignificant white men ;
we can easily drive them into the sea!" and
suffered the thirty days' ultimatum to expire.
Thereupon the British troops crossed the border
and proclaimed martial law.

What wiser, better course could have been
pursued? That Natal was in peril no clear-
headed man can deny. The colonists were near
the crater of a volcano liable at any time to an

Zulu Kings and Wars, 223

eruption. Cetywayo could not control his war-
riors. Fearing the result of their rashness, he
remonstrated with them, but they tauntingly
replied, " You are a coward ; you are not the
son of Chaka."

The mayor of the colonial capital, in a let-
ter to the " Aborigines Protection Society," in
England, fairly stated the matter when he said :
''The real point to be met and settled is this:
Is her majesty's authority, as representing
peace and civilization, or Cetywayo's authority,
as representing bloodshed and barbarism, to be
paramount in South Africa ? That is the real
question, but instead of calmly discussing it, a
side issue has been raised by the opponents of
Sir Bartle Frere, and that is this : Could he,
with safety to her majesty's dominions, have
waited before sending the ultimatum to Cety-
wayo until he had submitted it for the consider-
ation of her majesty's government at home?
This, I admit, is a question fairly open to
debate. But the question of insisting on tlie
fulfillment of the ultimatum itself, to the letter,
if the lives and property of her majesty's
subjects and of her allies in South Africa were
to be secured, is not a matter of debate merely,
but a necessity that had to be faced. The side
issue raised is merely important as a question
of official subordination."

Without particularizing, I will add that the
most competent judges in South Africa decided
at the time, and we believe the impartial ver-
dict of history will sustain their decision, that

224 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

the Natal authorities were justified in the
course they adopted, and moreover that Sir
Bartle Frere, " that noble old man, and cer-
tainly the most talented high commissioner
South Africa has ever seen," showed his wis-
dom by bringing the case to issue at once, as
he did by advising the governor of Natal to
send the ultimatum to Cetywayo. That hav-
ing been contemned, war was inevitable.

At the commencement of hostilities one of
the greatest military blunders occurred of which
we have any account in English warfare. Lord
Chelmsford, the general, was especially warned
by those who were well acquainted with the
Zulu modes of warfare, to avoid being taken
by surprise. Said George Cato, American con-
sul in Natal, an old colonist : " My lord, when
you get into Zululand, keep your army to-
gether, and be ready at a moment's warning
to go into laager " ; that is, draw the wagons
into the form of a square and chain them
together, pulling horses, oxen, etc., safely inside.
Mr. J. J. Mys, a Dutchman with a lifelong
experience of Zulu warfare, also said to the
general, a few days before the army crossed the
border : " Be on your guard. I have knowledge
of the deceit and treacher}^ of the Zulu nation.
The Zulus are more dangerous than you think.
I lost my father and my brother through them,
because we held them too cheaply. Trek ^ into
Zululand with two laagers close to each other."
It is said the general smiled, and observed that
he thought it would not be necessary.

* A common word for " journey," or " go."

Zulu KhujH and Wars. 225

Confident of an easy victory, the British
soldiers, with a hirge body of colonial volun-
teers and native allies, entered the country and
pitched their camp at the foot of a liigli moun-
tain called Isaudhlwana. The day following,
instead of sending out scouts in all directions,
and waiting till he could be sure that there
were no signs of the enemy, the general, with a
part of his army, went off twelve or fifteen
miles to reconnoiter. Just then there arrived
on the field from twenty to thirty thousand of
Cetywayo's best soldiers to meet the invaders.
Instead of "going into laager," as the Dutch
would have done under like circumstances, the
English hastily began the fight, regardless, it is
said, of orders the general had left, but which un-
fortunately he was not present to see executed.
They soon found that the Zulus were a foe not
to be despised. Rushing upon them with a
fearful yell, fearless of cannon, Gatling gun,
and showers of bullets wliich laid low at least
three thousand of their number, they demolished
the English camp in less than an hour's time.
A regiment of " redcoats " standing in a solid
body fired away all their cartridges and then,
as they tried to defend themselves with their
bayonets, were speared, not one escapirKj. The
rest, flying in different directions, were pur-
sued and many of them slain while attempting
to reach the Natal Colony. Tlie general,
returning at dark to the place where he had
left his camp, found all gone, tents, horses, oxen,
mules, beds, provisions, guns, money, all that

226 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

the Zulus thought would be of any use. The
dead soldiers were stripped of their clothing,
and the wounded, according to native custom,
put to death. The feelings of Lord Chelms-
ford, as he stood or sat by the dead bodies of
his soldiers during that long, dark night of
January 22, 1879, can he better imagined than
described. Report said that for six months
not a smile was seen on his countenance.

As the camp was rifled of everything, and a
new commissariat would be needed, a return to
Natal was decided upon the next morning. A
body of Zulus had crossed the Buffalo River
into the colony and attacked a small fort at
" Rorke's Drift," where a mere handful of
Englishmen defended themselves against the
enemy, although some Zulus came near enough
to catch hold of the rifles, between the biscuit-
boxes and bags of grain, with which the forti-
fication was made. Returning to their own
country they passed within gunshot of Lord
Chelmsford's troops, who never offered to harm
them, and were only too glad to find them-
selves in a place of safety.

The terror that seized the people in Natal,
after the massacre at Isandhlwana, was so
great that many of them sought protection in
the towns or fortified places. The belief was
general that the Zulus, elated witli their suc-
cess, would overrun the colony. England be-
came alarmed, and sent out a large number of
troops and the subjugation of Zululand was
prosecuted in a more cautious manner.

Zulu Kings and Wars, 227

As a result of the Zulu war, Cetywayo was
taken prisoner, sent to Cape Town, his country
divided, and over each division was placed a
petty chief. The king, after a visit to England
and an audience with her majesty the Queen,
was permitted to return and resume authority
over a portion of his former people. But soon
a contention arose between rival chiefs. One
of them, Usibepu, visited Cetywayo, after his
return, and was apparently disposed to live in
peace, but was snubbed by the son of Umpan-
de, in a manner not likely to be forgotten.
The " Usutu," as Cetywayo's party were called,
said to him, " You are only a dog," and soon
began to make raids into his territory. This
roused the ire of Usibepu, who resolved to
crush his insolent rival, though he should die
in the attempt. With nearly a thousand picked
warriors and aided by some European filibus-
ters, who joined him in hopes of reward, he
marched all one night and came suddenly at
daybreak on Ondine, Cetywayo's kraal, put-
ting all its inhabitants to an ignominious flight.
It was not a battle, but a slaughter of fugitives.
Abraham, a Christian native, member of the
Umsunduzi church, who was visiting Ondine
at that time, took the chief's rifle, and defended
himself and the king as long as the cartridges
lasted, and he was then shot himself. Cety-
wayo, after receiving a spear wound, escaped
into the Inkanhla forest, from which he was
rescued shortly after by a party of English
troops. He soon died, probably a natural

228 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

death, though his own people say from poison
administered by his enemies.

His son Undinizulu, a lad of twenty years,
swore that he would avenge his father's death,
and in direct opposition to the English author-
ities, now in possession of Zululand, renewed
the quarrel between the Usutu, his own party,
and that of Usibepu. The result was that he
was made a prisoner, tried before an English
judge, and sentenced to banishment at St.
Helena for ten years. There, the unfortunate
prince, like the great Napoleon, will have
opportunity to reflect on that turn of the
wheel of fortune which deprived him of his
chieftainship and terminated the Zulu dynasty.

A "Zulu Defense Committee" has been
formed in England,^ chiefly through the elo-
quent and importunate pleading of Miss Harri-
ette E. Colenso, daughter of the late bishop of
that name. She, it is said, has " expended more
than £3,000" in defending the exiled chiefs,
but, as yet, little has been accomplished
except bringing the matter before the English
public. The repatriation of the Zulu chiefs, it
is thought by the imperial authorities, would
disturb the present peaceful state of Zululand.
If the exiles behave well, and the political
condition of their country admits of their
return with safety, T have no doubt it will be
effected at an early date.

1 See Appendix.



ZULU native lore is quite limited, all we
have being taken from the lips of the
people. They had an abundance of legends^
many of which, together with their religious
beliefs, have been collected and published in
two volumes by Rev. Henry Callaway, M.D., a
missionary bishop of the Church of England.^
In this department he labored with unwearied
zeal and perseverance, and we are indebted to
him for having saved much which might other-
wise have been lost.

Dr. Callaway said the belief was irresistibly
fixed in his mind that the Zulu tales point out
very clearly that the Zulus are a degenerated
people ; that they are not now in the condition,
intellectually or pliysically, in which they were
during the " legend-producing period " of their
existence, but have sunk from a higher state.
Like the discovered relics of giant buildings in
Asia and America, they appear to speak of a
mightier and better past which, it may be, is
lost forever. " What Ave have preserved," he
says, "contains evidence of intellectual powers
not to be despised, while we have, scattered
everywhere throughout the tales, those evi-
dences of tender feelings, gentleness, and love,

1 Callaway '8 Nursery Tales.


230 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

which should teach us that in dealing with
savages we are dealing with savage men^ who
only need culture to have developed in them
the finest traits of our human nature."

Elizabeth Cookson, in her *' Introduction to
the Legends of Manx Land," has truthfully
observed : " Popular tales, songs, and super-
stitions are not altogether profitless ; like the
fingers of a clock, they point to the time of
day. Turns and modes of thought, that else
had set in darkness, are by them preserved and
reflected, even as objects sunk below the hori-
zon are occasion alij^ brought again into view by
atmospheric reflection. Fables are facts in so
far as they mirror the minds of our less scien-
tific ancestors."

In citing a few specimens of Zulu light
literature, I begin with a fable, the moral of
which is: "If you want anything done well, do
it yourself."

Long ago a certain king sent for all the
animals to go to a certain place and receive
their tails. On the day the tails were to be
distributed, the coney, not being disposed to
take the journey in consequence of a little
rain, said to the monkey, " When you get your
tail, will you ask for mine also, and bring it to
me ? " The monkey agreed, but on his way
home managed to join the coney's tail to his
own, saying, "If he is too lazy to go for what
he needs, he must go without. I shall not
encourage his idleness." So the monkey has a
long tail, but the coney scarcely any.

Zulu Folklore. 231

When Zulus ask others to do for them what
they ought to do for themselves, they often
humorously reply, ''Have you forgotten the
coney that lost its tail?"

Other races have fables accounting for the
tailless condition of animals, such as that of
the bear, in the Norse tales, fishing, at the
instigation of the fox, with his tail through
a hole in the ice till it was frozen, and losing it
when he attempted to escape ; but the fable of
the coney has much more significance.

Another fable is that of The Hyena and the
Moon, which is not unlike ^sop's fable of The
Dog and the Shadow.

It happened on a time that a hyena found a
bone and, taking it up, carried it in his mouth.
The moon began to shine with a beautiful
light on a river near by, and when the hyena
saw the moon in the water he threw down the
bone and plunged into the water to catch it,
thinking it to be beef. But he caught nothing.
Another h3-ena came and took the bone. The
first hyena v/as much ridiculed for his fruitless
plunge into the water and the loss of his bone.
So the Zulus often laugh at each other when
unsuccessful in their vain enterprises, saying,
" You are like the hyena that threw away the
bone and caught nothing."

Jack the Giant Killer, or rather a compound
of that hero and Tom Thumb, is found in
Zulu tales in the person of Uthlakanyana, who
speaks before he is born, cheats every one, even
his own mother, and shows himself "the best

232 Forty Years Among the Zulus,

man in the village " when he is only a babe.
Says his father, " He 's best man who first gets
hold of this leg of beef that I throw into the
kraal." So all the rest crowded to the entrance,
and pushed so that none could get it. But
Uthlakanyana crept in underneath at the far
end, and got the beef without any trouble.
Later on he is captured by cannibals, and he
treats them just as trolls and giants are served
in Norse and Celtic tales. They go out one
day while he is fattening, leaving no one with
him but the old mother. " Just untie me,"
says he, " and let us play at boiling one
another." She agrees. " Begin with me ; but
mind you take me out soon, for it 's only play."
The water is only lukewarm, and the canni-
bal's mother keeps her word, so he gets out
unhurt, and builds up a roaring fire, telling the
silly woman it will be all the more fun if the
water 's dancing about. So he pops her in
and holds down the lid. "Let me out!" she
screams. " It 's burning me dreadfully ; it 's
only fun, 3^ou know." *' No ; you can't be
done, or you would not be able to make that
noise ; " so he boils her till she says no more.
Then he puts on her clothes, and lies down in
the old woman's corner. When the children
come in they begin to eat. " This looks just
like mother's hand," says one. " No," says
another; "how can that be? There's mother
on the bed." But Uthlakanyana thinks it best
to be off ; so, disguising his voice, he bids them
leave the doorway clear and hobbles out. Just

Zulu Folklore. 233

as he rushes off they fish up their mother's
head, and start in pursuit. He is brought up
by a wide river ; so he turns himself into a
weeding-stick. The cannibals trace his foot-
steps to the brink. " Yes," says one, " he
must have got across just here," flinging over
the stick to emphasize his words. Safe on the
other bank, Uthlakanyana resumes his shape,
and thanks them for putting him across. " We
thought you were a weeding-stick," replied the
discomfited cannibals. But Uthlakanyana is
now very hungry : so, meeting a hare, he says,
" Stop, master, I 've got such a pretty story to
tell you." " I 'm sure I don't want to hear it,"
says puss. " Ah, but if you were to hear the
beginning of it, you 'd not be able to help
listening." "Yes, I should, though," persists
the hare. " Do you know it 's all about those
horrid cannibals ; they had me cooped up, but
1 managed to boil their — " And as the hare,
in spite of himself, is stopping to listen, our
hero gets hold of him, eats him, and makes a
flute of one of his leg-bones.

The Zulus have another legend of Uthla-
kan3^ana. He lived Avith a cannibal, with whom
he had a quarrel, and resolving to make away
with him, he hit on the following expedient.
He said one day: " Uncle, let us build a house;
then we shall live comfortably and eat our
cattle." The cannibal replied, " You are right,
child of m}^ sister : let us build a house, for we
shall get wet." When the time came to thatch
the hut, Uthlakanyana said to the cannibal,

234 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

" You go on the top, and I will go inside and
pull the thatching needle for you." The canni-
bal did so. His hair being very long, Uthla-
kanyana contrives to knot it into the thatch,
fastening it so that the poor cannibal could not
extricate himself, and there he died, leaving
Uthlakanyana to eat in peace.

The Zulus have their riddles, of which the
following are specimens : ^

1. " Guess a man who does not lie down ; even
when it is morning, he is standing, not having
lain down."

Anstver. " A pillar, for it does not lie down.
If the pillar lies down, the house niciy fall. Do
you not see that the pillar is a man, since it
upholds so great a house as this ? But it does
not fall."

2. " Guess ye a man who does not move,
although the wind blows furiously; he just
stands erect. The wind throws down trees and
houses, and much injury is done, but he is just
as if the sky were perfectly calm, and does not
move in the least."

Answer. ''The ear. Who ever saw the ear
of a man move, or being moved by tlie Avind ?
We see trees and grass and houses move, but
not the ear. The man truly moves ; if he is
carried away by the wind, the ear is not car-
ried away, or, if he falls, it still stands erect, or,
if he runs away, it remains the same."

3. " Guess ye some men who are walking,
being ten in number. If there is one over the

1 Callaway's Nursery Tales.

Zulu Folklore. 235

ten, these ten men do not go. They say, 'We
cannot go, for here is a prodigy.' These men
wonder exceedingly; they are slow in settling
the dispute, saying, ' How is it that our number
is over ten ? ' They have no love for the one
over the ten."

Anstver. "The fingers. Their proper number
is only ten. They are matched, going in pairs.
Therefore if there is a supernumerary finger,
they are no longer fit to go together in pairs
or to count with ; their counting is bad ; there
is no agreement, but only difference. This is
what we mean when we say they are slow in
settUng the dispute ; that is, if it could be done
without pain — the supernumerary finger could
be taken off with a word, and thus truly it would
be said, ' Away with you ! You are not fit for
this place.' "

The preceding, chiefly taken from Dr. Calla-
way's " Nursery Tales, Traditions, and Histories
of the Zulus," are sufficient, I trust, to show
that the people have a traditional lore which
throws light on their history and character.


A. B. C. F. M.

IN the first part of this volume sketches
were given of three of that heroic band of
missionaries, twelve in number, who left this
country for South Africa, December 3, 1834.
At Cape Town, Messrs. Venable, Lindley, and
Dr. Wilson, with their wives, separated from
the others and undertook the ^^e^'i^o^s enter-
prise of establishing a mission among the
Matabele Zulus, who lived far inland. War
between the Dutch and natives soon put an
end to their work, and, after burying one of
their number, Mi-s. Wilson, they joined the
mission in Zululand. The prospects beiug
dark. Dr. Wilson and Mr. Venable and wife
returned home. Rev. George Champion, a
colaborer of Mr. Grout and Dr. Adams, held
on till his wife's health obliged him to leave.
He was expecting to return, but the Lord
determined otherwise. At the early age of
thirty-one he died at Santa Cruz, one of the
Danish West India Islands, December 17, 1841.
All who knew him recall his sweet disposi-
tion, scholarly ability, and liberality. Having
inherited property, he went to Africa and
labored there at his own expense, showing


Deceased Missionaries. 237

throughout an earnest missionary spirit. The
savor of his self-denial and consecration has not
been lost.

There comes fresh before ni}^ memory the
form of a dear brother, who was the first
American missionary to be buried in South
African soil, the Rev. James Bryant. He
joined the mission in 1846, but died of pul-
monary consumption in 1850. One well
observed in regard to him, " He was a man
whose life in Africa, though short, emphatic-
ally answered life's great end." He possessed
in an uncommon degree those qualities that
make a faultless missionary. Mr. Bryant's
early history is peculiar. His parents, too poor
to support all the members of their large
family, committed James to the care of a
pious colored man named Cato, who resided
in Goffstown, N. H. Cato and his wife took
the lonely lad to their humble dwelling, and
to their hearts. Mrs. Cato, in giving her
reminiscences of young Bryant, said, '* Oh,
he was like a minister. If any of the boys
used bad language in his presence, or con-
ducted improperly, he was sure to reprove
them." After his conversion he was assisted
by some friends to prepare for college. Grad-
uating from Amherst, ^' a good scholar and ripe
Christian," he went to Andover Theological
Seminary. For a time he was settled in
Littleton, Mass. ; but wlien the call for
men to go to Africa reached him he at once
responded. Probably his love for the black

238 Forty Years Among the Zulus.

race, and a desire to pay the debt of gratitude
he owed, led him to choose the African field.
He quickly mastered the language ; translated
parts of the Bible, and composed some beauti-
ful hymns. All his works, even to his neat
and clear chirography, had a finished look.
His brief period of service yielded richer
results than are given to many, for before his
death he had the joy of seeing a church
gathered through his instrumentality. His
mind was clear to the last. Mr. Lindley, at
whose house he expired, expressed the feelings
of his brethren and sisters when he said: "We
loved him exceedingly, and had it been possi-
ble for others to bear the pain of his sickness,
we should all have wished to endure a part.
At our next meeting when he shall be spoken
of, we shall weep together, as good brothers of
the same family weep together for the loss of
the best brother they had. And why not?
He never spoke to us or thought of us other-
wise than in love."

In Rev. Samuel Marsh we all felt that we
had a genial, loving, and helpful friend.
Located at Itafamasi, he labored for six years,
and not without encouragement. Then he
was stricken with disease. Though his suffer-
ings were intense, he never lost his faith in
God or uttered a word of complaint. After a
paroxysm of pain, he once asked : '' Why do I
linger here ? " And when told it seemed to be
God's will that he should glorify him by suffer-
ing, he remarked, " Oh, yes, it is all right.

Deceased Missionaries. 239

Heavenly Father, thy will be done." Allusion
having been made to his wife and child, he
said, " I have no concern for them ; the Lord
can take better care of them than I can."
Once, I remember, he clasped his hands and
prayed most earnestly that God would make
him grateful for the kind friends who were
caring for him in his sickness and that he
might be patient and submissive under all his
sufferings. He delighted to have me read him

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16 17

Online LibraryJosiah TylerForty years among the Zulus → online text (page 13 of 17)