Country & Coastal Touring

Captain Allen Francis Gardiner… pt2

Durban from the Berea
View of Durban from the Berea.

 

Gardiner’s life at this point seemed to be progressing along at a pace he could only be satisfied with. He had a mission that was going strong, and had made numerous inroads with the local natives and Europeans at the settlement. There was one aspect though, that still needed to be tackled, and that was the safety of the settlement.

The residents of Port Natal lived under a dark cloud that was Dingane. The residents believed that at any time they could provoke the ire of the thousands of Zulu’s living to the north and in doing so, be expeditiously wiped out. This meant that no effort was made to build permanent structures or lay out the town as in an instant it could all be destroyed.

Dingane’s biggest gripe with the Port Natal residents was that a number of his subjects were making their way to the Port Natal settlement and taking refuge from the Zulu King, in essence being protected by the settlers. In the then Zulu culture, those seeking refuge would normally have received a death sentence from the King so it was no surprise they made their way to the settlement of Port Natal.

On 18th April 1835, a town meeting was held by the Europeans in which plans were discussed to ensure the towns security. The plan was to approach Dingane with a treaty whereby it was agreed that the settlers would wherever possible refuse to allow deserters into Durban but rather arrest them and return them to the King, provided Dingane guaranteed the lives and property of those living in the settlement, both white and black lives. It was also agreed that until Dingane agreed to these terms, no deserters would be given up.

On the 28th Gardiner started on his second journey to Dingane in order to present the treaty, arriving six days later on the 4th, this time bearing gifts for Dingane. Over a period of about 8 days, the terms of the treaty were discussed and eventually agreed upon. It was also during this period when Dingane commented that Gardiner was to be his European “agent” and that any and all traders wishing to enter the Zulu Kingdom had to have Gardiner’s permission.

It is this that essentially places Gardiner in an unenviable position. It made Gardiner accountable to the King of the Zulu’s, which of course he was not, and considering he was new to the area, would make him particularly unpopular amongst traders, settlers and hunters. Worse still, is that Gardiner was not only aware of the difficult position he was now placed in, but he actively sought to  justify his continued involvement.

Plan of Durban
Plan of Durban

 

Gardiner did however contribute towards a town plan, having attended a meeting with the townsfolk and being instrumental in guiding the planning meeting towards a concrete decision. With them he also walking the area and assisted with the laying out of boundaries. He also contributed financially to the new township of Durban (a not inconsiderable sum of 30 pounds!). During the course of the meeting, the inhabitants further voted to name the new town “D’Urban” in honour of Sir Benjamin D’Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony.

Part 3 to follow.