The first official day of the KwaZulu-Natal tour started with a morning tour of Durban. I took Pat along Durban’s “Golden Mile” (a 6km long stretch of beachfront), whilst chatting a little bit about Durban’s history; the day was perfect for the beach, blue skies and a cool breeze and postcard-perfect ocean views.
After our cruise along the Golden Mile we stopped at the new (‘ish) development at Bamboo Square to have a quick look around, we also tried to spot the old Whaling Station and the Millennium Lighthouse. What was Point Road is now Mahatma Gandhi Road so we chatted a bit about Gandhi as well as other local historic figures like John Ross and Dick King as we cruised along Magaret Mncadi Road.
Battle of Congella
Since my client Pat was interested in the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, I told her about a little known battle that took place inside the city of Durban; the Battle of Congella.
In May of 1842, Boers participating in the “Great Trek” had arrived in Durban and had in essence annexed the new settlement and renamed it the “Free Province of New Holland“. The British at first weren’t too peturbed since the settlement hadn’t at this point been annexed yet by the British and so was really considered fair-game.
However the Boers instituted a number of policies, some of which caused a number of Zulu people to leave the Durban settlement and press down on the northern-most borders of the British Cape.
Now alarmed the British sent a regiment to take Durban under the command of Captain Smith (of Smith Street fame). Unfortunately for Captain Smith, things did not go so well and at the site of Albert Park he was successfully ambushed by the Boers under the command of Andries Pretorius and suffered heavy casualties. Smith was forced to withdraw to his camp at the “Old Fort” site where he patiently bunkered down for a siege.
It’s at this point in history when Dick King made his famous dash to Grahamstown accompanied by his companion, Ndongeni, a distance of 960km which King covered in an unheard of 10 days! Here he alerted the British to Smith’s pridicament and so helped end the siege that had lasted over 6 weeks already!
We stopped by KwaMuhle Museum to see a little of Durban’s more recent past. The museum is in the same building that was known then as “Native Affairs” and it’s here the majority of Durban‘s Zulu people made their first stop on arriving in Durban. The museum is small, but always well presented, and it does give an intriguing insight into times not that far gone!
There’s also a section on some of the bombings carried out by the the military wing of the ANC; Umkhonto we Sizwe – as well as the subsequent investigations and trials.
It was onto KwaDukuza (Stanger) next. Known to the Zulu people Dukuza, this is the site of the Zulu King, Shaka’s royal kraal. We were running out of time at this point to were unable to enter the small museum and model Kraal displayed, instead we had to just make do with a few pictures of the statue of Shaka outside. Shaka is so important to KwaZulu-Natal history that his influence is still everywhere you look. A visit to KwaDukuza should be on everyone’s bucket list at some point!
At this point we were headed direct toward our overnight stop at Shakaland just outside Eshowe. As we were driving along I noticed a sign out the corner of my eye that mentioned a place called “Gingindlovu“. Suddenly a memory flooded back of a visit I had made to this area over 10 years ago to visit the site of some British War graves, fatalities from the Battle of Gingindlovu. I wasn’t a 100% sure I’d be able to find the site again, but Pat was game to try so off I went.
Fortunately within minutes I recognized the area pretty quickly. The only problem was that the sugar cane in the area had grown so tall that I couldn’t spot the graves. After one wrong turn though, we rounded a corner and there they were!
As Pat mentioned, the site is lonely place, almost in the middle of a sugar cane field, a lonely place to die indeed. I was certainly pleased to see that someone was taking very good care of the war graves themselves. Unfortunately the small civilian site was very overgrown, a bit disappointing.
An interesting side note: because of the difficulty in pronouncing the name, British soldiers referred to uMgungundlovu as “Gin Gin I Love You“!
After some pictures, it was finally time to head direct to Shakaland. I think Pat was mightily pleased since breakfast was a distant memory and lunch still some time ahead! Unfortunately I think I misunderstood some helpful advice given to me by reception when making the booking, and instead of taking the normal route I went an unfamiliar way, this resulted in us getting to Shakaland just to late for lunch! Instead we had to make do with sandwiches… sorry Pat!
We had the afternoon to ourselves, only needing to meet again at 4pm for the Zulu cultural tour. I was pretty tired so I went for a 10 minute power nap that may have ended up being a bit mroe than 10 minutes!
I was up and ready to meet Pat for the tour which lasted about an hour or so, afterwhich we headed to the bar to wait to be called for the evening show.
Although I’ve watched the show many times before, I can’t help but get goose-flesh when the drums start! This show in my opinion is one of the best I’ve seen and worth the drive to get there! Both Pat and I were captivated by the frenzied dance and fantastic costumes! I can’t help but admire the dancers who must do this regularly and yet still seem to give their all!
Finally though all good things have to come to an end and the show was no exception. We were escorted by our Zulu dancers to the restaurant where the Zulu Chief gave us his blessing to start dinner.
Once again dinner at Shakaland was fantastic with many options including the more traditional foods like samp and beans. With fantastic layouts like what was on offer, it’s no wonder my waistline is increasing!