| South Africa - Bhambatha: War of the Heads
- 72 min
[5 March 2009]
Inkosi Bhambatha was born in 1866. He was only thirteen when he saw the independent Zulu Kingdom refuse to bow to the Natal Colony demands to open up their territory to capitalist investment. In 1879,the British waged war on the Zulu nation whilst under the leadership of the last Zulu King to be recognised by the Natal Colony, Cetswayo.
The consequence of the defeat that followed for Africans was immense. Perhaps the greatest casualty was our African way of life… the way we worked and shared the land.
After the murder of Cetswayo, his rightful heir, Dinuzulu, was unable to stand up to the British. He was prevented from taking his place as king. Instead he was exiled to St Helena for opposing British Annexation of Zululand.
By time of his return in 1897, the Zulu Kingdom had been fully incorporated into the Natal Colony. The authorities watched his every move… But to his people, he would always be King.
The undermining of Dinuzulu was felt very keenly by chiefs all over Natal for his situation mirrored theirs. Some chiefs refused to stay quiet. Among them was Chief Bhambatha.
The land that had been set aside for Bhambatha’s Zondi people was decreased without their consent as the Umvoti area was opened up to settlement by white farmers. By the 1890’s, many of the Zondi were living on were living on white farms and these farmers were now demanding rents. In addition, the government was trying to impose how many cattle African people could own. The result our young men forced to seek paid work on the white economy.
Each advancement of the white settler on our territory was permanently erasing our African communal life under the Amakhosi, the very basis of our survival as an independent people.
Today Bhambatha is a hero to many in South Africa, especially among the Zulu people. In 1906, over three months between March and June, he waged a brave war against the power of the white man. For the first time he brought Africans from diverse clans together, united in the will to fight… at a time when the majority of African chiefs had accepted defeat and deferred to the colony. What would make a low ranking chief like Bhambatha become a hero for those people like myself, who made it our mission to help end apartheid? And how did this episode in history lead to the historic event known as the Bhambatha Rebellion?
Perhaps the answer lies in Inkosi Bamabatha’s greatest fear. The Natal colony had assumed the position of supreme chief over our people. This meant that whites could now ignore the system of hereditary rule and select chiefs themselves. His hatred of colonial rule and its threat to his chiefdom meant that he was regularly seen in court for one infringement or the other. Bhambatha was aware that he would have to fight to keep his rightful place as chief.
Bhambatha of the Zondi I have a list of petitions here requesting your removal as chief, faction fighting, sheep stealing, unpaid rents. You are indeed a thorn on our side. Can you not control your men omvoti? Or is it you yourself who lead them astray.
The truth was that chiefs like Bhambatha were losing the ability to influence the destiny of our people, particularly the younger men who were becoming slaves to the wage economy.
By the 1880’s to the early 1900’s the system of Amakhosi, in your colonial language chieftaincy had been co-opted into colonial administration to a point where many of the chiefs were being called the Magistrate’s Boys.
The situation is not as simple because many of the chiefs had witnessed their colleagues been deposed throughout Natal. And many of them had to make situations or come to decisions where they needed to count their loses and decide whether it was worth any thing to be disloyal and be deposed, or act as if they were loyal and hang in there with the colonial administration that still carry on running their chiefdoms.
We’ve cut away our forests, To make towns and plantations. Now my men are building roads So the produce of our sweat can be moved and then sold back to us in white stores. And then our toil will be in white men’s stores, only for us the original owners to buy it from their stores.
Many of our young men, who had moved into towns to work, faced a hostile environment, as one migrant worker explains.
We fought the wars, Now they want us to carry passes. Is this what it means to be ruled by whites? Some say the real chief is the Governor of Natal. No! This is nonsense!
Bhambatha found inspiration in the powerful chief, Meseni, who ruled over the Qwabe, a clan that at one time had been more powerful than the Zulus. The Qwabe’s had a history of challenging the colonial authorities, often with some success.
Meseni, sensing mounting tension and an impending confrontation, organised a series of ancient rituals to ascertain guidance from the ancestors and to strengthen his Qwabe clan.
Whites also felt a sense of impending doom and their fears were stoked up by the rumours that African armies had imminent plans to sweep through the countryside to take back their land.These fears were further fanned by the not so distant memories of the bloody Anglo Zulu war of 1879.
By 1906, not all Africans lived directly under the influence of chiefs. Some belonged to Independent African Churches, merging African traditional beliefs with Christianity.
There was a large number of your African people who were converted to Christianity usually they are known as Amakholwa, those who were believers.
Many of these people who were dissatisfied ended up breaking away from the mainstream churches run by missionaries and established African independent churches, which advocated an idea of Africa for the Africans and of sending the white people to the sea.
For us to have clear direction we need great leaders. No matter the crimes you commit God will always love you.
Bhambatha was attracted to the ideas of these Christian preachers, who through their literature could spread the ideas of rebellion like a wildfire.
Now is the time to drive the whites from the land.
While the Amakholwa turned to God and saw education as the key to African advancement. Their very progress was blocked by the inequalities built into the system. The Amakholwa saw it as their responsibility to preach the word… and the word was dissent.
We are your dogs! If the owner doesn’t feed his dogs... They will go and hunt. We are hungry, master.You are forever pushing us around at the work place.You are living in comfortable houses that were built with our strength and sweat. Please don’t take us for granted.
Reverend John Dube was the editor of the weekly, Ilanga Lase Natal, a newspaper widely read by Zulu speakers. The paper voiced the grievances of urban and rural African Christians. While he urged his readers to support gradual political change, more militant Christians were arguing that colonial rule was immoral and unjust and needed to be fought.
The colonial authority soon labelled all African Christians as radicals and revolutionaries. Their opposition would not be tolerated….And things were about to get worse.
Every male person of the age of 18 years and upwards shall pay an annual poll tax of €1 sterling. If any person liable to the poll tax shall fail to pay within 2 months, they will be found guilty of contravention of this act and prosecuted with the full force of the state.
When the government introduced this new tax legislation this time without any consultation with our Chiefs, there was uproar of discontent. The news launched the colony into crisis.
The idea behind the tax itself was to impose some kind of a coercive measure that was going to force a lot of African population off the land into the various sectors of your emerging capitalistic economy in South Africa at the time.
There was a depression after the 1899- 1901 war and Natal itself had actually gone through a great deal of hardships and they needed a lot of money in their coffers.
Now all these sort of pressures were intended to squeeze money not from the white population, because they had a voice and representatives in this legislature they were able to resist the imposition of new taxes and then the people who became the target of those taxes were African population.
To ensure that the poll tax was collected Colonel George Leuchars a former government minister and prominent farmer was placed in charge of the Umvoti mountain riffles. Under Leuchars the Amakhosi were ordered to hand over all those who had defied the magistrate or face severe punishment
To shell their home stead is a bit theatrical but at least it sends a no nonsense message to the natives never to dare resist the authorities again.
The colonial authorities were imposing the poll tax on our people. There is a well known saying which says that there is no taxation without representation, who were not consulted in any way, who were just dictated to.
Reverend John Dube penned many articles giving voice to the pain felt by our people.
Punished by Colonel Leuchars down cast members of the tribe will never forget it as long as they live, nor will any other black man. Deprived of their cattle, their chief and two thirds of their land, Their poverty will make them vagabonds
Most of these commercial farms were known territories to a lot of people who had been dispossessed since the early 1850’s and were still in the 1880’s. Now these people were expected to comeback and work for wages on farms that at one point or another were their ancestral landsThe poll tax was means of getting the young Zulu men to go and find employment on the mines or construction. Because the Zulu’s were actually farmers they didn’t need money, so there was no point in them going to work because they had everything they needed and also there were other taxes as well there was a hut tax there was a dog tax you can imagine and there was also a taxes to man, which was actually out of proportion. So the young Zulu men well said this is enough with the poll tax we won’t take it anymore and I guess that is why they actually resisted.
Independent tree fella, Mjongo Kamphumo, was an anti-colonialist and militant Christian. As local leader, he had come into direct conflict with those chiefs who sided with the authorities.
We were known as the Presbyterian Church of Africa. Our minister had argued with the local chief, Mveli. The chief did not like our women singing or our modern dress. He felt we had turned away from his authority.
Really! It was not the chiefs who started this fight it was us. Today they called it Richmond uprising
When the time came for Mjongo’s men to pay the new Poll Tax, they sang songs of protests. This was interpreted by the local magistrate and Chief Mveli as open defiance.
I told my congregation not to take arms. Because the police would be waiting for us. I told them to go home.
But it was too late. The magistrate had already dispatched troops to arrest the militant Amakholwa.
They reached Mjongo’s homestead at nightfall and a scuffle broke out between the three troopers and Mjongo’s men. A trooper’s gun was fired and the Ibandla, fearing for their lives, retaliated with assegais. By nightfall, two white policemen lay dead.
Can you now see these people cannot be trusted? They are not law abiding; we will have to use force against them.
To reassure the terrified white population that the situation was under control, Governor Henry McCallum declared martial law.
Now we can burn blacks out, to deprive them food is the only way and then punish all those guilty of high treason as a lesson to the others.
To punish those who opposed the tax, large tracks of land were taken away and given over to loyal chiefs. Huge herds of African livestock were confiscated and auctioned to white farmers...for next to nothing. Those who openly protested were fined or publicly flogged.To cow Africans into submission, hundreds of troops were sent into certain areas, to scare and intimidate.
It was not long before the white militia captured the men from Mjongo’s congregation
They were tried in military courts. But despite protests from the colonial office in England, The Natal Cabinet pressed ahead, encouraged by support from other white colonial settlements elsewhere in the world.The punishment of these churchmen was harsh and public. The young Winston Churchill described the rulers of the Natal colony as the thugs of the British Empire.
The day for collection has been set. On that day I must send my people to pay.
Bhambatha’s men were divided over whether or not to comply and pay the tax, or to refuse. Many of the older men feared the consequences of resistance to the authorities. Bhambatha sent those willing to pay into Greytown while he himself remained with the younger men who were refusing to pay. It was their belief that they were protecting their chief. For them it was certain that if he presented himself to the magistrate in town, he would be arrested on the spot. A young warrior from Bhambatha’s clan had this to say at the time.
Our wish is that our chief should not be shot as a buck or as a beast or an ox driven to the slaughterhouse.
To hand over myself to the magistrate is not an option.
By staying with the militant men and not appearing in town, Bhambatha had made it clear where he stood in the fight against the poll tax.By nightfall rumours had abounded that the bothersome chief was planning to attack Greytown.By the time troops rode out to arrest him….Bhambatha was nowhere to be found.
In fact, taking his favourite wife Siyekiwe, Bhambatha, had crossed the Tugela river and entered Zululand, heading for Usuthu, the home of Dinuzulu. Dinuzulu was perhaps the only man in Natal who could help Bhambatha now. For many Africans in the colony it was only Dinuzulu, of the Zulu Royal House, with his connection to the lineage who possessed the supernatural powers to lead the resistance and drive the Europeans out of Natal. There were many legends surrounding the Prince. That he could stop bullets from shooting a beast. That he could travel around the land disguised as a dog. Many of our people had for some time been expecting a sign from the ancestors that would signal the end of Europeans and the return to the past glories of our African kingdoms.
Our King was between a rock and a hard place. Not wanting any further trouble, Dinuzulu stated to the law courts that he had no involvement in the rebellion whatsoever.
I told the chiefs that they must pay the poll tax. What else could I do? People should realize sons no longer send money to their fathers. The government has done well to tax young men.
Before we could meet the King we had to consult with Mankulumana his prime minister and he would advise us.
I called Bhambatha. Mankulumana was there. I told him “Go to the government, let them help you find a place, if you were driven away by high rents”. Then I told him about a pain in my leg, and that it needs to be doctored.
The king was not a participant as such but I think some of his actions for instance in giving shelter for instance to Nkosi’s Bhambatha wife and daughter implicated him because when then he made an averment that the king supported him. I think that gave the credibility that in fact could be so because how could he accept it the responsibility of keeping his family.
When Bhambatha left the Zulu Royal House, he was accompanied by a new face. Chakijana, the Mongoose. Dinuzulu had instructed Chakijana Sithole to accompany the troublesome chief back to Mpanza.
On route, Chakijana became excited by Bambatha’s plan to gather chiefs together to fight for their right to rule themselves.
In the coming months, Chakijana will use his experience as a scout in the Anglo Boer War to become Bhambatha’s most formidable lieutenant.
When Bhambatha reaches his homestead in Umvoti, he learns that, in his absence the local magistrate has removed him from his chieftaincy, placing his compliant uncle, Magwababa in his place.
Stories of Bhambatha are still told today, particularly in Mpanza, home to the Zondi.
He was tried by Van Rooyenand they deposed him and replaced him with his uncle, who sided with white people. Because people knew the chief was Bhambatha, they sided with him.
A wanted man labelled as a rebel, with no Chieftaincy to defend and without the backing of Dinuzulu, Bhambatha has only one option…. To launch the impi alone.
And so…. the struggle known as the Impi Yamakhanda, or War of the Heads, had begun.
And that incident was going to be a turning point in the form of resistance in South Africa because for the next 90 years or so, generations and generations of African people drew inspiration from this action by Bhambatha to resist colonial oppression at a later stage to resist apartheid oppression. Bhambatha by then was fed up and had actually come to a point where he recognised that hundreds of other chiefs had been deposed whenever they were seen to be disloyal to the colonial authorities. And he felt that his moment had come and instead of just cowering away he decided to declare his intention to fight the colonial authorities when they killed four policemen here.
Following the attack Bhambatha and his men severed the body parts from the policemen to be used in protective medicine.
There was a huge outcry amongst your settler population in Natal about the fact that these four policemen had parts of their body parts severed. What is often forgotten when this is said that it was the Europeans themselves who first kept body parts in jars, it cannot therefore be seen as a surprise that the local population thought well if you severed people’s body parts you get more power to control those people and did more or less the same thing, severed these body parts, use them for muti purposes during this conflict in 1906.
As stories of our Bhambatha’s (Umlingo) heroic deeds wove their way across the homesteads and workplaces in Natal, the government wasted no time in raising the alarm. It was as though the whole country was waiting for something to happen.Bhambatha’s impi headed north and back into Zululand to the safety of the Nkandla forest, a place long used by African armies as a base to regroup and launch attacks. But it was a dangerous journey as in many areas, chiefs had pledged their support to the colonial government attempts to capture him and his men. One loyal chief to the colony Sibindi, marched 1,000 men onto Mpanza, the home of the Zondi as the white militia shelled the Reserve with canon fire.
It was difficult to get hold of him. They recruited black people to locate him. Sibindi was one of them. They provided him with guns.
In time, Chief Sibindi will be duly rewarded when the land from the surrounding chieftaincy are handed over to him.
But a pledge was one thing. Capturing Bhambatha was not so easy, as many young Africans looked to him for inspiration, and were joining the impi to fight on his side.
The chieftaincy surrounding the Nkandla forest was that of Nkosi Sigananda. This 96-year-old chief was held in the highest esteem he was the custodian of the sacred burial place of King Cetshwayo, deep within the forest. Both the authorities and Bhambatha desperately needed him on their side.
When I first heard about this tax on heads. I sent a message to Dinizulu to challenge this law, and he replied saying we must pay the Poll Tax. My death is around the corner and this war in my land is a spear in my heart. Remember the old days when we stood against government. I am not scared of jail. I once gave refuge to other chiefs. Now they want me to hand over the Zondi king. Do they know during King Mpanda’s reign I ran to white people for safety? And who protected me? It was Jangeni, Bhambatha’s grandfather. Our mistake is to be neutral. In war there is no such thing as neutrality.
I’ve moved my troops into strategic positions, the paths are too narrow for our horses and wagons, but we managed to secure a position on higher ground. Where we occasionally see rebels moving between the strong hold in the mountains and forest of Kudzeni. When we receive reports of rebel concentrations we fire. And they are so good in hiding in the nooks and crannies. And thy have some damn good snipers
The tactics chosen by Bhambatha and Chakijana were dumbfounding the white military. Soon the Natal cabinet appealed for help. Guns were also sent from England by the Captains of Industry to help the colony. The owners of the gold mines in the Transvaal sent 500 men at their own expense to help crush the rebellion.
Under McKenzie, there was a rapid build up of the military to fight Bhambatha’s Impi. To swell their ranks, they were joined by the Natal Police, a force made up of black and white. But large numbers of the Durban’s African borough police were sympathetic to the Impi and had begun to desert their posts and join the rebellion; They were further joined by thousands of young men who often defied their chiefs to join Bhambatha’s fight.
Chakijana Sithole, was now the key military strategist in the Bhambatha’s impi.
Our strategy is to attack their wagons just like we did at Mpanza. Local people will feed and watch for us. We travel by night and in the day we rest in caves. Along the way we are joined by men from other villages. We are growing in numbers. They know we have a right cause on our side.
The chiefs sent word that nobody should join Bhambatha. But we young men were attracted by the fighting and the enmity.
These younger men full of defiance found themselves out of step with the older generation, as many of them chiefs who were now cowed by years of white rule.
Many men have come on their own from areas such as Maphumolo and Zululand. None were called by Dinuzulu. They came voluntarily.
I talk one way to my impi, but in my heart I am worried. We say we have Dinuzulu’s support, but his words against the war torment me.
We have to be careful who we speak to. People will betray us. They should believe kings are behind us. White people are very tricky, they can bribe our people to sell us out.
Dinuzulu fearing the claims that he was behind the uprising made the following remarks.
If it is true that Bhambatha is preparing for war in my name, then I am sending the government my pledge of loyalty. I have offered to raise a body of loyal chiefs to wipe Bhambatha out.
Dinuzulu’s offer was instantly refused. He then sent his Prime minister Mankulumana to Inkandla to convince the rebels at the Zulu royal house was not behind Bhambatha. But when Mankulumana arrived… he encountered a wall of silence.
We told him he can’t see Sigananda who is only concerned with the men who fought for Shaka and Dingane. Do not put your foot here again.
The men gathered from various chiefdoms must all go through one gate together. When bullets come to you do not be afraid and run, for all those who turn their back will die and those who face the whites will suffer no harm
Deep in the Nkandla forest Bhambatha has prepared his impi for battle. All around them, McKenzie’s men have encircled the forest. By the beginning of May, it is inevitable that the two armies will meet.On the 5th of May, the Natal Police Force, backed by 400 African levies, converge on Bhambatha’s stronghold at Bhobe Ridge on the edge of Nkandla forest. Sigananda orders his men out from the cover of the forest to confront this well armed column. The white military record no fatalities, but the impi loses 70 men.
Sigananda and I have a serious dispute. He wants to attack in daylight. But how can we face their guns? My plan is to attack at night. Attack and retreat. Attack and retreat... with this plan they will be finished. Without this plan we won’t win.I swear on my grandfather’s name.
The defeat caused a serious rift between the two with Bhambatha blaming Sigananda for poor generalship…a rift that leads to Bhambatha taking his immediate followers to Quedeni, spreading the rebellion throughout Nkandla, but also leaving Sigananda to defend the stronghold at Mome, near Cetswayos grave.But on the 17th of May, colonial troops burn the grave of the Cetshwayo. News of this infuriates African chiefs in the surrounding areas, spurring them into action. Diverse clans make their way to Nkandla to avenge the burning of Cetshwayo’s grave and to join the Impi. On the way, many groups converge and the combined force of clans come head to head with troops camped on a hill. They attack in traditional Zulu formations. The battle lasts all day and there were many casualties on our side. But unlike at Bhobe, the Zulu army have managed to kill a number of the enemy.News of the burning of King Cetshwsayo’s grave reaches Bhambatha. At the same time, Sigananda has sent Bhambatha good news. He is now convinced that Bhambatha’s guerrilla tactics of drawing small groups of men into the forest to attack them can work. It is time to rejoin forces.
McKenzie received information from one of his many spies that the whole of the Impi would be congregated in one spot at Mome Gorge.
So we devised quite a cunning plan. Seven columns are to converge simultaneously at the rebels’ camp near Mome at Cetshwayo’s grave.
In the night a messenger came to warn Bhambatha of the movements of the colonial troops.
Despite this, Bhambatha and his men decided to camp down for the night just outside the protection of Mome Gorge.
During the night of the 9th the soldiers organised themselves that is the white soldiers forming the line there up there and some were forming the line all around here and all the other on other side there. So that if they try to run away they found them waiting for them there.
As the men slept, colonial troops arrive with canons and machine guns.
They were tearing our men apart. An old man said, “the young are being decimated”.
Those who escaped the first battle scrambled over the edge of the Gorge, only to be shot to pieces in the water by soldiers waiting below. Those who ran into the forests were hit by men advancing towards them The firing lasted all day. Our men fought bravely but were outgunned by the colonial forces and their supporters. Desperate to convince both Africans and the Europeans that the Impi were conquered McKenzie needed some proof that Bhambatha was amongst the dead of the Mome Gorge. The body that they identified as Bhambatha was stabbed so hard that the blade had broken in two. The head was removed and taken to military headquarters to be photographed, displayed to the public and made into a horrible memento. Barely three days after the Massacre of Mome Gorge the colonial authorities are forced to eat their words. Fifty kilometres south of the Inkandla forest lies Maphumulo. This area was the home of the Qwabe, led by Chief Meseni.On hearing of the brutal attack at Mome and not necessarily believing that Great Bhambatha was indeed dead, Meseni called for his men to return from town to the homestead to defend their chiefs. Black workers in town responded to the call and returned to their homesteads in their thousands. Soon it was as though the towns had been turned upside down and shaken of their contents. One thousand dock workers, seven hundred rickshaw drivers, five hundred domestic workers and half the Durban African borough police left to defend their homesteads. Meseni now commanded an army of over 8,000 warriors.A thunder of feet marching out of Durban could be heard as far as Emthandeni, Meseni’s stronghold. The returning men were told that the fight was with the military and all those loyal chiefs who assisted them, that they must not attack civilians, but it was inevitable that some anger would be misdirected.A lone cyclist, a civilian, Oliver Veal, stumbled on these same men on his way to the railway station. Meseni’s men, mistaking him for a spy, killed him and used his body for muti.
Then when the military with horses and rifles fired on Meseni’s stronghold they were met with men carrying only assegais and brave hearts. But it was too much and the men were forced to retreat to the thick bush. McKenzie now determined to end this thing, made a plan to converge several columns, each one coming from a different directions into the area. In the coming days thirty thousand homesteads would be destroyed, it was as though the order had been given to take no prisoners.
Our strategy of destroying homes and property has been more immediately successful…You see these blasted locals keep feeing the rebels. He only way is to starve them, force them out into the open. After all, hungry men take risks.
Complaints rang out about the unnecessary brutality.
Immediately opposite our guns was a hut full of defenceless women and children, and their screams could be distinctly heard ... Sir this is not warfare. And his reply... “No, this is cold blooded murder, but this is the way Colonial troops fight
I have not heard any outrage been committed or even attempted, except for an attempt on an assaulted native woman by a native levy. I have though my best to conduct the military operations in this rebellion and as humane manner as possible and I consider I have been successful.
By now of the ten thousands or so warriors of the uprising, around three thousand had met their death. And this is how it was to continue. They called this rampage mopping up, putting the uprising completely to rest, ending the pretence of ruling by consensus, where the chiefs had some say, instead they were now determined to rule by force.
The three powerful chiefs in the area instead of retreating to the mountains like Bhambatha they decided to fight face to face, toe to toe with the and fight in the traditional way with the enemy.
This man didn’t die, as it was believed. They even took his head, but it was the head of a traditional healer. Because there was money promised for Bhambatha they took the healer’s head. But he didn’t die. Bhambatha ran way. He passed by his home to tell his mother “As I was fighting my brother stayed behind because he wanted to be king, I am leaving now so you and my brother will never see me again.” They say he went to Mozambique, he left for good, nobody knows where he actually ended up.
His burden like steel on his shoulders. Making cowards fear him. Bhambatha is human. He slipped out of the hands of the British. It’s like a calabash in the hands of the drinker like a cow smearing another cow with mud. He escaped from everyone.
McKenzie was not a military genius but more like a cunning fox. He had tracked down his prey with methods foul. The capture of 96 year old and infirm Sigananda, was seen as a great victory.
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The Prison Warder in the jail…They used to come with the glass, the glass of they say its alcohol. Sigananda refused several times, he always say this is the poison, I can’t drink the poison. But on the 7th day, he told his Induna’s that if this soldier comes with a liquid then I will drink it. They say haa can you drink the poison? You are going to die Nkosi. He said, No Am I Inkosi as I’m sitting here am I Inkosi? Is better to drink this poison and die. From there we used to say Inkosi iyadunguzela. He became sick, he became weaker and weaker he was send to Inkandla hospital and then he died there. - What is painful about Inkosi Sigananda is that he was buried next to the village there not by his people. They took him there and buried him handcuffed, he was buried handcuffed,According to our beliefs as our Inkosi was buried handcuffed the whole tribe or the whole nation is handcuffed.So we are not free we felt that we are not free that’s why we tried even the correctional services has done it this year to come and officially release Inkosi Sigananda.
Chief Meseni from Maphumolo surrendered and was tried by martial law. He was banished into exile. But many of our chiefs would not risk involvement in the uprising as one young warrior explains.
When we returned home the chiefs were angry like hot chillies. Our names had been listed. It was my own father who reported me to the chief. The police found me with three guns stolen the boer war. I understand my father’s duty to the chief over me and any fear I have vanishes when I get to jail. I find so many warriors, I feel like a king. My blood runs hot.
Chakijana was pardoned for refusing to give evidence that would help the defence of King Dinizulu against the many charges bought against him.
Judge this is a false accusation, I am innocent, and they will use me as soap to wash the dirt from those that they are defending. You have go the wrong person
Perhaps no conquest over Africa would have been complete while the mobilising powers of the Zulu royal house prevailed over that of the colony.
I’m here to proclaim my innocence. I did order my people to pay the poll tax...
Prince Dinuzulu’s fate turned out the same as if he had arranged the event of 1906 himself. He was charged on 8 accounts including high treason, public violence, sedition, rebellion and murder.
Those of us who are descendent from King Dinizulu it’s been very bitter because we think he paid too high a price for that. Because it was not his decision at all.
Close to 160 people gave oath in Dinizulu’s trial but only two of them Bhambatha’s beloved Siyekiwe heavy at heart and Mangati, Bhambatha’s General, were prepared to say on oath that Dinizulu perpetrated the Impi Yamakhanda. Commentators on the trial argue that pressure was likely brought to bear on certain witnesses to testify against Dinuzulu in return for dropping charges or leniency in sentencing.
Even so the courts were unable to find sufficient evidence to convict Dinizulu of high treason. Instead he was fined 100 pounds for assisting and harbouring rebels and sentenced to four years in prison.But the effect was the same.First prison and then enforced exile, the Zulu Prince was unable to survive the harshness of captivity. He would never breathe the air of true freedom again, he would never be king through him the link to the past could finally be broken.And Bhambatha himself? We will never know whether he died or remained alive at that moment.
Through a series of remembrance ceremonies, those from many traditions came together to reclaim our history… and our connection to the past.The Centenary Committee has said that the centenary will not be complete if it only pays homage to Bhambatha. The committee has called upon other families, like that of Chief Sigananda of Nkandla, the family of chief Meseni from Maphumulo, as well as the family of Mehlokazulu, and also the family of Sithole. We wish to see Chakijane Sithole commemorated as well because he is also a great hero. Through the telling of this story, Bambatha’s spirit of resistance will endure, for their will be many more struggles ahead.